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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.

Director:

John Carpenter
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Popularity
1,322 ( 812)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kurt Russell ... Snake Plissken
Lee Van Cleef ... Hauk
Ernest Borgnine ... Cabbie
Donald Pleasence ... President
Isaac Hayes ... The Duke
Season Hubley ... Girl in Chock Full O'Nuts
Harry Dean Stanton ... Brain
Adrienne Barbeau ... Maggie
Tom Atkins ... Rehme
Charles Cyphers ... Secretary of State
Joe Unger ... Taylor (scenes deleted)
Frank Doubleday ... Romero
John Strobel ... Cronenberg
John Cothran ... Gypsy #1 (as John Cothran Jr.)
Garrett Bergfeld Garrett Bergfeld ... Gypsy #2
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Storyline

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City's Manhattan 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:

New York City has Become the Only Maximum Security Prison for the Entire Country. Once You go In, You don't Come Out... Until Today. See more »

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 July 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's Escape from New York See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,162,000, 12 July 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$25,244,700
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Extended Version)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The fight scene, in the boxing ring, was filmed in the abandoned grand hall of St. Louis Union Station several years before the building's renovation. While the hall was extremely dilapidated, viewers can make out the stained glass window representing New York City, St. Louis, and San Francisco in the background. This window is still above the front entry into the grand hall from Market Street. See more »

Goofs

When Air Force One is heading towards New York City (but before it's identified as the President's plane), it's described as a "small plane". Besides the real-world fact that Air Force One is and always has been a large passenger airplane, the footage of the plane makes it clear it's a larger aircraft than described. It would have been more accurate to describe it as a "commuter" or "passenger" aircraft even before they found out it was Air Force One. 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 ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Collector's edition laserdisc (during director commentary) shows cut scenes of high-tech bank robbery which led to Snake's conviction and eventual prison sentencing to New York. See more »

Connections

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Soundtracks

Romero and the President
(uncredited)
Written and Performed by John Carpenter
Produced by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
See more »

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 SpikeopathSee 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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