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New York in the 50's (2000)

5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 87 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 5 critic

Based on the book by Dan Wakefield, the film combines stunning archival footage of New York with interviews of the icons of the day - Kerouac, Ginsberg, Baldwin, Mailer, Basie, etc. Offering modern day perspectives.

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Cast

Credited cast:
David Amram ...
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Sam Astrachan ...
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James Baldwin ...
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Brock Bower ...
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Ann Brower ...
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William F. Buckley ...
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Knox Burger ...
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Art D'Lugoff ...
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Mary Ann DeWees McCoy ...
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John Gregory Dunne ...
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Edwin Fancher ...
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Bruce Jay Friedman ...
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Jane Wylie Genth ...
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Based on the book by Dan Wakefield, the film combines stunning archival footage of New York with interviews of the icons of the day - Kerouac, Ginsberg, Baldwin, Mailer, Basie, etc. Offering modern day perspectives.

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based on book | See All (1) »

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Documentary

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Release Date:

9 February 2001 (USA)  »

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Opening Weekend:

$4,552 (USA) (9 February 2001)

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$4,552 (USA) (9 February 2001)
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User Reviews

 
Is it just me or did most of the people in this documentary seem awfully smug and self-involved?
7 September 2008 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

As one reviewer pointed out, this film is less a documentary about New York City and more a film about Greenwich Village and a small group of Bohemians. New Yorkers, in general, were NOT like the folks portrayed in the film. This isn't a major complaint--just a clarification.

If you watch this film, your reaction will probably have a lot to do with your values and beliefs. While so many folks looked back wistfully about the 50s in New York, to me I felt that most of the folks seemed like the most self-involved and smug individuals I have ever heard. Some, certainly not all, seemed to care mostly about feeling good through sex, smoking, psychoanalysis (which, in some ways is VERY egocentric) and drugs and you can easily see how the radical 60s truly had its roots in this New York movement. To me, these attitudes just seemed very sad and selfish.

In amazing contrast, the idealism, social consciousness and egalitarian aspects of this time I found admirable. Despite some of the incredibly "ME-oriented" people who talked in the film, a lot of good came from it as well. Its roots to the 60s civil rights movement were interesting and helped the viewer to see that racial equality didn't just "appear" in the 60s.

Overall, this is a mixed bag. The film is constructed well and has no narration--simply allowing those of the time to speak for themselves. This is the sign of an excellent and intelligent documentary. However, it's lack of balance and "wide-eyed" view of all the good of this time is disturbing--at least to this more conservative viewer. I wasn't enamored with many of these themes and felt there was a lot of negative though it all seemed to be portrayed too optimistically. To me, the good AND bad should have been explored--such as the early deaths due to substance abuse. Because of this, the film should play well to more liberal audiences and make "middle America", Muslims, and many others feel uncomfortable.


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