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Summer of Sam (1999)

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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 Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writers:

Spike Lee, Victor Colicchio (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Leguizamo ... Vinny
Adrien Brody ... Richie
Mira Sorvino ... Dionna
Jennifer Esposito ... Ruby
Michael Rispoli ... Joey T
Saverio Guerra ... Woodstock
Brian Tarantina ... Bobby Del Fiore
Al Palagonia Al Palagonia ... Anthony
Ken Garito ... Brian
Bebe Neuwirth ... Gloria
Patti LuPone ... Helen
Mike Starr ... Eddie
Anthony LaPaglia ... Detective Lou Petrocelli
Roger Guenveur Smith ... Detective Curt Atwater
Ben Gazzara ... Luigi
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Storyline

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 Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It Was A Time They'd Never Forget 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

2 July 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Son of Sam See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,991,450, 4 July 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$19,283,782, 12 September 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Idina Menzel was cast as Richie's girlfriend. Her scenes were cut before final release. See more »

Goofs

Set in 1977, a 1990-92 Cadillac Brougham stretch limousine is seen outside the disco. See more »

Quotes

Ritchie: Vinny! You fuckin' traitor! What the fuck are you doin'?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

After they are refused entry into Studio 54, the sex scene between Dionna (Mira Sorvino) and Vinny (John Leguizamo) included more explicit shots in the original cut. This scene was edited a bit after the MPAA threatened the film with an "NC-17" rating. See more »

Connections

References Naked City (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

Dancing Queen
(1976)
Written by Benny Andersson, Stig Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus (as Bjorn Ulvaeus)
Performed by ABBA
Courtesy of Polar Music International AB
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Flashy Departure For Spike Lee...
29 December 1999 | by Don-102See 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.

RATING: ***


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