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Escape from New York (1981)

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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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2,154 ( 133)

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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:

1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$50,000,000
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

In 1981, Bantam Books published a movie tie-in novelization written by Mike McQuay that adopts a lean, humorous style reminiscent of the film. The novel is significant because it includes scenes that were cut out of the film, such as the Federal Reserve Depository robbery that results in Snake's incarceration. The novel provides motivation and backstory to Snake and Hauk - both disillusioned war veterans - deepening their relationship that was only hinted at it in the film. The novel explains how Snake lost his eye during the Battle for Leningrad in World War III, how Hauk became warden of New York, and Hauk's quest to find his crazy son who lives somewhere in the prison. The novel fleshes out the world that these characters exist in, at times presenting a future even bleaker than the one depicted in the film. The book explains that the West Coast is a no-man's land, and the country's population is gradually being driven crazy by nerve gas as a result of World War III. See more »

Goofs

When the Duke is shooting at the handcuffed President, we hear the sound of very loud, echoing gunfire even though he is conspicuously using Snake's submachine gun equipped with a rather large silencer. 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 »


Soundtracks

Chase Across the 69th Street Bridge
(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

 
"Call me Snake..."
13 January 2003 | by groltSee all my reviews

"Escape From New York" is a solid action noir by John Carpenter, although it lacks the punch of Carpenter's other three previous features ("The Fog", "Halloween", "Assault on Precinct 13"). Kurt Russell became famous for his Snake Plissken, and rightfully so, although the character seems to be only a more gritty version of Napoeleon Wilson in "Assault". What makes this film the cult classic it is is Carpenter's very apocalyptic and brash story. This is a very dark film, and it holds up especially well today when shown against the countless fluff films that Hollywood seems to be churning out.

Carpenter made the most out of his meeger budget and created a very convincing New York City. Not only is the set design fantastic, but so are the typically strong performances. Russell, Hayes, Barbeau, Pleasence, Stanton, Atkins, Cyphers and Borgnine are all cult legends, and seeing them all work together makes Robert Altman's casts look feeble in comparison.

What limits this film from greatness is surprisingly lax direction by Carpenter. The film is not as tight as it should have been, and really fails to generate any sort of suspense during the action. Deaths just happen out of nowhere, with little to no build up, which is a shame. This movie could have really been amazing. The ending is perfect though, and easily makes up for the film's faults. See it for Kurt Russell and the great ending and you will come away a happy viewer. Watch "Escape From LA" though to see what this movie should have been.


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