7.2/10
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Escape from New York (1981)

R | | Action, Sci-Fi | 10 July 1981 (USA)
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In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.

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4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Taylor (scenes deleted)
Frank Doubleday ...
John Strobel ...
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Gypsy #1 (as John Cothran Jr.)
Garrett Bergfeld ...
Gypsy #2
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Storyline

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The world's greatest leader is a hostage in the most dangerous place on Earth. Now only the deadliest man alive can save him. See more »

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

10 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escape from New York City  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$25,244,700 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Extended Version)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film shot in St. Louis, MO, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA. Location manager Barry Bernardi selected St. Louis to double for Manhattan due to the city's eager cooperation, its aesthetic similarity to a "major east coast city," and its proximity to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which was conveniently closed and could double as New York City's famed Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge. Carpenter elaborated on the selection of St. Louis as a surrogate locale for New York City: "St. Louis, due to a major fire they had there in 1977, now just has the right amount of emptiness in the downtown area. Also the right architecture. So much of the city looks vacant and dead; perfect for our needs since we couldn't use anything looking new or fresh." St. Louis' Union Train Station simulated Madison Square Garden, while the city's downtown area, after being littered with "junked cars" and trash, became the decrepit streets of a 1997 Manhattan. Four separate locales in Los Angeles were used to recreate the World Trade Center, and Liberty Island was among the New York City shooting sites. Atlanta's MARTA mass-transit system, which was originally featured in the film as a "futuristic trans-continental train," was cut from the final edit. See more »

Goofs

After Snake takes off in the glider, Charles Cyphers is seen in the control room wearing a shirt and tie. In the next shot, he is wearing a suit jacket, which he then takes off. He wears the shirt and tie for the remainder of the scene. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards ...
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Connections

Referenced in American Dad!: Con Heir (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Bandstand Boogie
Music by Charles Albertine
Courtesy of Cherio Corporation
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Snake, a Brain, a Cabbie, a Duke and the President Of The USA,
16 October 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It's 1997 and Manhattan Island is a walled off prison, during the flight of Air Force One, the president's plane is taken over by a terrorist and the president ejects out in the safety pod. Sadly for him he lands right in the middle of Manhattan Island, when an armed unit lands inside the walls they are told that the president has been taken hostage and they must get out of their prison ASAP. At a loss what to do, the authorities decide to send one man in alone, ex war hero turned criminal, Snake Plissken, not only does he have to contend with surviving the incredibly hostile prison, he also has a time bomb implanted in his body that, should he not get the president out safely within 24 hours, will explode and mean no more Snake Plissken!.

Made in 1981 and set in 1997, it's safe to say John Carpenter is not the best predictor of the future around. However his vision of a future where America has thrown all it's criminals on one island, where they create their own society out of harms way, has to rank as an incredibly adroit piece of work. This place is grim and deadly, the flotsam and jetsam of society thrust together in this bleak and desolate place of class separation. What Carpenter has achieved with his usual minimal budget allowance is a smouldering sci-fi classic that may be as daft as they come, but it pulses with cool and cheekily slaps you round the face with its cheeky satirical edginess. I must give kudos at this point to the great production design from Joe Alves, who along with Carpenter has crafted this brilliantly dirty netherworld of crime.

Our anti-hero of the piece, Snake Plissken, is superbly played by Kurt Russell, the original choice interestingly was Tommy Lee Jones, but Russell fuels Plissken's mantra to make him one of the eighties coolest grumpy bastards!, and his work here is first class in terms of the films apocalyptic structure. Surroundning Russell is a wealth of quality performers each adding their personal bits to this tick-tock stew, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau and Isaac Hayes all earn their money and flesh out the story to the end.

Calling Escape From New York an action picture would be setting first time viewers up for a real let down, what action there is is minimal but highly effective, the machismo flourishes acting more as a point of reference to the pictures time bomb urgency. I like to think of the film as more a sci-fi adventure yarn laced with darkly comic humour, with of course machismo thrown in as a side salad to accentuate the bleakness of it all, wonderful. 9/10


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