Summer of Sam (1999)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  2 July 1999 (USA)
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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


The summer of '77 was a killer........ 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
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Did You Know?


Idina Menzel is known to have been in the film as Richie's Girlfriend, but her scenes were cut before final release. See more »


During certain parts of the movie, Richie is wearing black combat boots that did not become available until the US military adopted the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) in the early to mid 1980s. The boots in questions are officially designated "Boots, Combat; Mildew & Water Resistant, Direct Molded Sole" and were "standardized 30 Oct 1984." See more »


Ritchie: [English accent] It's all in the at-titude.
Ruby: [mimicking] In the at-tit-ude...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Come Rain or Come Shine
Music Harold Arlen
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Mike Starr and The Terence Blanchard Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Flashy Departure For Spike Lee...
29 December 1999 | by (Philadelphia, PA) – See all my reviews

Spike Lee goes berserk with SUMMER OF SAM, a twisted revisiting of the Son of Sam killings, New York, 1977. Lee steps away from his usual message pictures depicting the differences between blacks and whites and plunges us into the small Italian neighborhood within the largest city in the United States that serial killer David Berkowitz terrorized for months. The "Son of Sam" himself (played by Michael Badalucco) is placed in the back seat and Lee presents a community and an era for that matter in complete chaos.

SUMMER OF SAM has its good points and its bad points. We get to know this locale very well whether we like it or not. The characters who populate the neighborhood are funny, sad, and stupid all at the same time. You get a feel for the smells and the language of that time in that place. 1977 was the year of Disco's peak, the uprising of British punk rock (represented well by the Adrien Brody character "Ritchie"), and the Yankees were on top of the baseball world. These characters are truly nuts in their vigilante approach to finding the killer. Hell, Reggie Jackson (#44) may be the .44 caliber killer.

Aside from seeing into a sometimes gripping and stupefying world of violence and flash, the film does go overboard many times. Lee continuously rams the sex aspect of the period into our minds and Berkowitz is not seen or known enough. I did not expect a Berkowitz bio at all, however a more focused look at the killer would have proved more effective. The relationship between "Vinny" and "Dionna" (John Leguizamo and Mira Sirvino) is well-done, but over-told. True, "Vinny" is the movie's central character, but he has barely a redeeming quality and is a hard-headed product of his environment.

The cinematography and overall sound of SUMMER OF SAM is awesome. It looks grimy when it should and the use of The Who on the soundtrack is emotionally rousing, especially during the inevitable climax. I liked the picture mostly for cinematic reasons than for historical or emotional ones. The fictional neighborhood pieces are not as good as the small glimpses of Berkowitz, who does indeed chat with dogs. It did remind me in many ways of Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, but this film has a larger canvas to paint. It works despite the shortcomings.


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