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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:

$5,952,452, 4 July 1999

Gross USA:

$19,288,130

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$19,288,130
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

Two minutes of film were cut, mostly from the club orgy scene, to get an R rating instead of an NC-17. See more »

Goofs

During the shooting sequence where Phil Rizzuto is doing the play by play for a Yankee game, you can clearly see blood mechanically squirt out after both victims are not moving and no more shots are being fired. See more »

Quotes

Dionna: Hey, Vinny! Vinny, pick me up a sandwich, BLT, mustard not mayo.
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 The Get-Man (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Go Breaking My Heart
(1975)
Written by Elton John (as Ann Orson) and Bernie Taupin (as Carte Blanche)
Performed by Elton John and Kiki Dee
Courtesy of MCA Records and Polygram International Music B.V.
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Grade: A-
3 December 2004 | by tideprinceSee all my reviews

The climate is fear, pure and simple. Fear so heavy you breathe it in. There's a menacing entity killing nearly at random, and no one knows where, when, or who it'll strike next. The authorities are working hard to bring the danger to an end, but they're seemingly blocked at every turn. As the tension mounts, everything the people of this place don't like or understand becomes suspect. Social conventions break down. Hysteria seeps into the hearts of these people, a good, hardworking, blue collar people. And it drives them mad.

The story I've just told is essentially the story told in "Summer of Sam", which I believe is Spike Lee's best film. The story takes place in the summer of 1977 in New York City, but social mores being what they are today, it could easily take place in any town in America today, right now. Replace the Son of Sam with a terrorist threat, and the situation becomes strikingly similar.

The vigilantes who beat Richie at the end of the film are beating him because he works at a gay strip club, not because they think he's the Son of Sam. They don't like his hair or his music or his friends or his attitude, but in the end the straw that breaks the camel's back is his sexuality. As the country struggles with a potential Constitutional gay marriage ban, we need to think about where our anger toward homosexuality is really coming from. Is it coming from a sense of morality, or is it coming from a sense of fear?

That's enough political mumbojumbo though. This is a stunning film, and don't let anyone tell you different. I noticed Adrien Brody in this flick long before anyone saw "The Pianist", and I said then that he was going to be a star someday. He should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his work here, as should have John Leguizamo and Mira Sorvino, Leguizamo especially. He shows range I haven't seen from him since. The script plays like an Arthur Miller stage production. Tormented protagonist, fighting battles with his own soul that he should learn to let go of. A climactic moral test of wills. Society turning on an individual out of fear and anger.

So props to Spike Lee, who may never be this good again. "Malcolm X" and "The 25th Hour" are also both really wonderful films, but for me, this one takes the cake. If you haven't seen it already, do so. A lot of people don't like it, but like Adrien Brody says in the film, you've gotta think for yourself.


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