If there is one thing guys can argue about, it’s movies.
Put three guys in a room and ask them to rank the best movie in any category and you will get five different opinions.
Now, suppose these guys are New Yorkers.
You can get five different opinions — this time with attitude.
Which bring us to this: Picking the top three movies that were either set in New York City or best depicted it.
This was all set in motion by an article last year in The New York Times that attempted to tackle this issue.
At AMR, we are an opinionated stubborn lot, each with our own heartfelt views of movies and each with our own personal favorites for which movie shined the best spotlight on our hometown.
So over the next few days, each of us will weigh in with our “Best Of” lists. Turns out some of our picks overlap but many do not.
What movies set in New York City were your favorites? How far off base are our picks?
Let us know. You can comment on our Facebook page or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or be like a New Yorker and just scream at your computer screen loud enough to wake the neighbors.
Here’s my picks:
“The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three”
For me, this is the quintessential New York movie. Maybe it explains why it ranks as my all-time favorite (Shhhhhh….Don’t tell “Star Wars.”)
Let’s start with the basics: The No. 6 line (aka Pelham line aka Lexington Avenue line ) was the one I grew up with, so it’s close to home.
The thing about “Pelham” is that it so perfectly captured the attitude, passion, dark humor and grittiness of New York and its 8 million inhabitants.
The plot is terrific and the dialogue is like listening to a beautiful symphony of smart-ass street-savvy New Yorkers.
The authentic feel of the cop cars, the politics and the trains coupled with the dynamic soundtrack make this a must-see celebration of the city.
This is another one of those dark gritty movies with some smaller light moments to break up the grim.
Set largely at night with an overwhelming sense of menace lurking behind every corner, this 1979 movie captured the dispirited nature of New Yorkers who were contending with high crime and a broken subway system.
Despite its almost relentless hopelessness, there does come triumph in the end.
It’s a bit schlocky in places and maybe the production values are not the highest, but it stands out for the sense of place it delivers about the city.
Bonus: In recognition of a big blowout cast reunion in 2015, I interviewed one of the leading actors, Terence Michos, who played Vermin in the movie.
”The Pope of Greenwich Village”
This one is a personal favorite again because it hit close to home.
I recall the big stage lights and crew occupying one of the entrances to the subway and being there for a long stretch. It was exciting to see a bit of Hollywood come to the Bronx!
There was an old Irish bar on the corner of Castle Hill and Westchester Avenues where some of the key characters, played by Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts, meet.
That it was shot in a place so familiar to me lent the film an air of authenticity that was easy to relate to.
You know, it’s like one of those things where you see a scene on the big screen and you go: “I know where that is!”
BTW, as a total aside, AMR posse member Pedro and I both have had our brush with Hollywood, appearing as extras in a crowd protest scene in the 1983 movie “Daniel,” starring Timothy Hutton.
We had to get to the Lower East Side super early on a winter’s morning, wear dark clothing and donated our day’s pay to a charity.
If you want to see what we look like, click here. It’s truly a “Where’s Waldo?” moment.
And no, I still have not watched the movie.