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Summer of Sam (1999)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  2 July 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 30,214 users   Metascore: 67/100
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Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American South Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Palagonia ...


Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American South Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No one is safe from son of sam See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic violence and sexuality, pervasive strong language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 July 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Son of Sam  »

Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,991,450 (USA) (2 July 1999)


£173,471 (UK) (14 January 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Spike Lee was facing a lot of negative feedback from the family members of the victims who didn't want a film being made which might glorify the killer in some sorts. As a result, the script had to be changed which focused more on the community than the killer himself. "Son of Sam" was rumored to be the original working title. See more »


When the guys come to get Vinny to help them with Richie, Vinny picks up the phone to call the police. When the phone is ripped off the wall, you can see that there is no phone line or place to plug in the phone on the wall. See more »


Vinny: Fuckin' make me sick, you fuckin' slut.
Dionna: I am a slut? You're calling me a slut? You lowlife piece of shit- you fucked- my- cousin! You didn't think I knew about that! I smelled her pussy juice all over your fuckin' face! You fuckin' sick bastard! How dare you? And all this time I'm thinking there's something wrong with me. You perverted sick fuck!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are in the form of newspaper headlines. See more »


Featured in Hollywood's Top Ten: Bad Hair Day (2011) See more »


Fooled Around and Fell in Love
Written by Elvin Bishop
Performed by Elvin Bishop
Courtesy of Polydor Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Sam-Enchanted Evenings

Summer of Sam was berated on its US release by New Yorkers and relatives of the victims of serial killer David Berkowitz alike. In the summer of 1977, paranoia eclipsed disco fever as the so-called .44 Killer murdered six and injured seven, all while keeping in contact with columnist Jimmy Breslin (whose comments bookend this movie). Not the kind of events to revisit in these days of the easily offended, and seeing Lee's claustrophobic take on Berkowitz in his deranged apartment is almost enough deter you from visiting the Big Apple.

The focus of the movie is an insular community of Italian-Americans. Mistrust rules the roost: the only thing close-knit about them is an occasional cheesy tank-top. Fear and conformity underpin the set-pieces upon which Lee thrives, from cops meeting a Mafia chief (Ben Gazarra) to a half-hearted Studio 54-style orgy. John Leguizamo thrives when passing himself off as John Travolta, but his marriage is a hollow sham. His quest for redemption hinges on saving punk friend Ritchie (Adrien Brody) from both himself and the lynchmob they grew up with.

Summer of Sam has invited comparisons with Do the Right Thing, on account of its portrayal of the simmering tensions building up to horrendous violence. Yet the lifestyles on show throughout make it closer to Scorsese's Mean Streets, albeit balanced by several strong female leads, notably Mira Sorvino. At 142 minutes it has stretched the attention span of some viewers and reviewers, but as the closing credits roll Lee has got us to care about the characters as each boils over. Ditching the irksome music video/sitcom visuals - even at a Late-term Abortions gig, with Ritchie on guitar - this is Spike Lee's most mature joint to date.

Graham Barnfield

28 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Who throws Richie's guitar and stuff from the window? hardwood_sale
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