Bright Lights, Big City (1988)

R  |   |  Drama  |  1 April 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 5,605 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 26 critic

A disillusioned young writer living in New York City turns to drugs and drinking to block out the memories of his dead mother and estranged wife.



(novel), (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Vogel
David Warrilow ...
Yasu Wade
Ferret Man
Gina Belafonte ...
Rich Vanier
Bernard Zette ...
Stevie (as Zette)


Kansas kid Jamie Conway got employed in Gotham Magazine by claiming himself "fluent in French" but actually he was a French amateur himself. Jamie was a drug addict himself due to his wife leaving him and go Paris for her fashion show but she did not find him when she came back to New York. Finally Jamie lost his job due to a French message 4 mistakes. Megan was worried about Jamie and comforted Jamie about Amanda's leaving. Conversely, Jamie's friend introduced Vicky to Jamie and finally Vicky replaced Amanda and become Jamie's best female friend. Jamie finally realized that life can be very optimistic, just depends on how you think about your life, and how you wish to decorate your life. Written by Kazuha

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


All that glitters is not gold. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die grellen Lichter der Großstadt  »

Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)


$16,118,077 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert Lawrence, a vice president at Columbia Pictures, championed the novel against resistance from older executives. He felt that the book spoke to his generation and described it as "The Graduate (1967), with a little bit of The Lost Weekend (1945)". See more »


When Jamie (Michael J. Fox) runs from his brother who's been waiting for him on Jamie's stoop, he enters the Christopher Street station of NYC's 1 train. But when the camera shows him on the subway platform he's actually at the 42nd Street/Times Square station. See more »


Jamie Conway: [voice over] You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning and, though the details are fuzzy, you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar.
See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: A Star Is Burns (1995) See more »


Pump Up The Volume
Performed by Marrs (as M/A/R/R/S)
Courtesy of Island Records/AAD
Produced by Martyn Young (as Martin Young)
Words & Music by Martyn Young (as Martin Young) & Steve Young
See more »

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User Reviews

The Secret Of My Succe$s's evil twin
1 November 2009 | by (Yurp) – See all my reviews

You have to leave it to Michael J.: no-one looks better harried in a casual suit than he. That artfully ruffled hair is just the shizzle. Even when he's been boozing and snorting lines all night, he looks like the picture of life. Here he's teamed up with Kiefer Sutherland, the second best-looking guy in a ruffled suit, and all seems to be set for a zany, New-York-in-the-Eighties comedy along the lines of Fox's previous The Secret Of My Succe$s. Only that they decided to make a dire "serious" movie instead, probably to allow Fox to work beyond the comedy genre for a change.

So Fox plays the young would-be writer of the Great American Novel who struggles with:

*the death of his mother a year ago

*being left by his model wife (meaning they're married and she works as a model -- everyone did in the Eighties) for a swanky French fashion photographer

*having to work as a fact checker for a The New Yorker-type magazine instead of being recognised as a literary maven

*New York City

*partying too hard, taking too much coke and hanging around models with earrings the size of dinner plates too much

Here's how the story went down with me: the main character and his entourage live the affluent life of New Yorker young urban professionals that everybody dreamed about in the Eighties. Our hero Jamie Conway has a well-paying job in the media, but he whines because he'd rather be an author. It's sad that his wife left him, but he handles it so immaturely that you begin to feel that she made the right choice. The dead mother in Kansas seems to be thrown in gratuitously to add ballast. The other women in this movie are so stereotypical (the motherly type, lots of club-going fashion skanks and finally the homely girl who goes to bed at ten under a large frilly duvet) that I garnered even more sympathies for the cheating wife. I couldn't buy into the whole coke fiend schtick because Michael J. Fox just looks so damn perky and apple-cheeked all the time.

Finally the ending: Jamie meets his estranged wife at a party, starts laughing hysterically, then his nose starts to bleed from doing all those lines. He then decides to call that homely girl, whines to her about his mother, and sorta decides that he's through with all those modern women and that she's what he needs. He then goes out into the New York morning and trades a loaf of bread for his sunglasses. Credits.

The story reminded me in many ways of The Catcher In The Rye -- only that TCITR a good, captivating book, while BRBC is a boring film. Maybe the book it was based on was much better, but it just didn't translate well to film, or maybe it was crap too.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Couldn't finish it. matthewcs25
What's up with the low rating?? barrs6
Great Acting and Movie, But Needed One Edit denise1234
heart breaking ton_tongue_toffee
The ending stanlee666
book, anyone? readbaby2000
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