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Subway Movies

 

Welcome to the Subway Movies Page!  Over the years, many movies included scenes that were filmed in the New York City  and the Subway System.  Below are a list of some of your favorite films with a review.  New films will be added periodically, so keep checking back.  If you have a film that you would like to include, please send it along with a review to Motorinstructor@yahoo.com and it will be featured on this page.  You may also add your comment to an existing review.  All purchases made through our links help to support Subway Web News.

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The French Connection -

The French Connection is a gritty, tough and unapologetic film that is based on the true story of two New York City narcotics officers who scored the biggest heroin bust in history. Gene Hackman stars as the rough edged Popeye Doyle. Popeye is not above doing anything in order to make his bust, whether it be coercion or violent force. Teamed with his more leveled-headed partner Cloudy, played by Roy Scheider, they follow a hunch of Popeye's to the record bust. The movie is one of the ultimate cat and mouse thrillers as Popeye and Cloudy stakeout the Frenchmen who are importing the heroin. The famous car chase scene underneath the West End Line in Bensonhurst still holds up even thirty years later as one the greatest ever filmed. Mr. Hackman is incredible in the role of Popeye and the over the top blind rage and fury he brings to the character is perfect. Mr. Scheider is also great and his sanguine performance provides a nice contrast to the fiery Mr. Hackman. William Friedkin's grainy filming style perfectly captures the feel of the movie. Mr. Hackman won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor, Mr. Friedkin took home the Best Director Oscar and the movie won for Best Picture. After thirty years, The French Connection hasn't lost one bit of its power.

Review by Thomas Magnum  

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King Kong - In the original, the Kongmeister wrecks the 3rd Avenue El.  In the classic Mad Magazine satire, an exasperated straphanger sticks his head out the window and yells "Can you put me down at 34th Street, please?  That's my stop!" Review by Joe Raskin

This is a thrill-packed monster movie that has achieved cult-classic status. The imaginative and skillful special effects are outstanding (considering that this film was released some 70 years ago), setting the standard for countless action/adventure films to follow.

The story of the giant ape who is captured and transported from the jungle to contemporary New York City shows similarities to the fairy tale "Beauty And The Beast". The now legendary scenes with King Kong and a terrified Fay Wray, along with the closing remarks "...it was Beauty that killed the Beast" will stay with the viewer as a powerful commentary on society and its norms.

This is clearly the greatest cinematic achievement in the genre of horror movies. This classic ranks with "Bride of Frankenstein" and the original "Dracula" as the leader in this art form. A must-see for any horror film enthusiast. The soon-to-be released DVD version promises to be the ultimate experience in viewing this masterpiece

Review by Michael R.Mathena 

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King Kong - In the original, the Kongmeister wrecks the 3rd Avenue El.  In the awful remake, the No. 7 line gets it.  Review by Joe Raskin

This was the first big film of my childhood, I'm 28 now, and I still really enjoy it. This ambitious re-telling of King Kong has it's share of faults but overall, it's still a pretty exciting adventure film. The story itself of course is absurd but it's played to the max here. The screenwriter knows this and gives the film a quirky sense of humor. Many of the special effects are outdated which simply can't be faulted here in 1999. The robotic Kong briefly seen in the presentation is laughable, but you got give them credit for actually building the beast. I still believe the acting is light years better than the original. Jessica Lange was perfectly cast as the naive starlet Dwan. She obviously wasn't a "dumb blonde" and had far more personality than Fay Wray. Jeff Bridges is just fine as the conflicted and noble hero and Charles Grodin is terrific as the weasel-like and desperate oil executive. The haunting and evocative music by John Barry really gives the film character. Yes it was a guy in a gorilla suit, but that guy was Rick Baker, and his gorilla suit is simply amazing. He gives Kong a real personality and becomes a sympathetic character, which is the biggest difference in the two films. The original is a landmark film and was ahead of it's time in its production qualities, but the acting and characters leave a lot to be desired. The cinematography of the remake is another standout feature. This version of King Kong has gotten more than its share of punches, but I still find this to be a very entertaining and exciting adventure film with a breezy sense of humor. I don't have a DVD player just yet, but this will be one of the films of my collection.

 

Review by an Amazon customer 

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The Little Fugitive -  The plot involves one youngster, who is victimized by a practical joke, and runs away to Coney Island via the West End line (then, as now, we're going your way).  In 1953 I started school at PS 188 on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island.   Each year, The Little Fugitive would be shown in the auditorium ...and every year I loved it as much as I had the year before ... I never forgot the movie and whenever anyone would ask my favorite film, even as an adult I would always mention it ... Several years ago when visiting NYC with my own children, after spending a day in Coney Island, eating at Nathans and going on the Cyclone, we wandered into a Manhattan video store and I was astounded to see it on a shelf. We immediately rented it and it was as wonderful in 1998 as it had been in the 1950s. My children loved it and continue to mention scenes from it today in 2003! A wonderfully charming film that goes right to the heart of childhood.

Review by Diane Pomerantz

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The Lost Weekend -  One of the scariest films ever made about addiction in any form, in this case, alcohol.  The sight of Ray Milland (in his greatest performance) staggering up 3rd Avenue with the El rumbling overhead, looking for an open pawn shop and bar haunts even today.  Milland busts out of the Bellevue drunk tank, and gets away by riding the 3rd Avenue El.

Review by Joe Raskin

 

 

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The Money Train - In the past, when people think about the trains that run through the subway system to collect revenue from token booths, it's been when they're on the passenger train caught behind it (in my case, usually on the No. 7 line outside of the Queensboro Plaza station).  Thanks to The Money Train, we can now think of it as the inspiration for one of 1995's most exciting films.

 Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson star as John and Charlie, two decoy Transit Police officers, who, as it turns out, are also foster brothers.  In the course of their duties, they run afoul of the guy who runs the money train,  the Transit Police, the Command Center, and, apparently, the whole subway system, and complications ensue.

 If you see the ads for the film, you'd think that its total focus is the train itself.  Unlike the real money train, old subway cars painted yellow, the train in the movie looks like something out of Star Trek -- it could have been something that the United Federation of Planets would use to collect fares ("beam up those tokens, Mr. Scott").  Until the last half-hour of the film, though, it's a minor character.

 The core of the movie is the relationship between John and Charlie.  The Money Train is the third movie that Wesley and Woody have made together, and they have an easy rapport that goes beyond the confines of any script (they're crazy if they don't keep doing movies together).  This allows for both job-related by-play and sibling rivalry that is believable, and not often heard in the movies.

 Mark Cantor, who headed up the production of the film, began his career as a member of the staff on The Taking of Pelham 123.   Doug Richardson, one of the screenwriters, and the production staff spent a great deal of research time touring the system.  It shows in character development, as well as how traditional location shots were avoided.  Instead of repeated shots at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, we see Union Square on the Lexington Avenue line and Dean Street on the Franklin Shuttle, the escalators leading to the Times Square station on the No. 7 line and the 5th Avenue station on the E and F lines, and the underground yards south of the Church Avenue station on the F line (has the Franklin Shuttle ever been in a movie before?).  Even the scenes that were done in Hollywood reflect this solid feel for the system.  The set that was built there to replicate a local station will fool a lot of people not familiar with the subways.

 Joseph Ruben's direction is right, and the acting in The Money Train is solid.  Jennifer Lopez, playing Grace Santiago,  a rookie police officer who attracts both Wesley and Woody, makes a fine screen debut.  Best of all is Robert Blake, playing the guy in charge of the money train.  Instead of playing his character as comic relief, as others might have done, dragging down the script, Blake plays him straight, giving him an over-the-top intensity that almost steals the whole film.  It's easily the best film role he's had in decades.

 While there are some moments that defy logic and the law of gravity, The Money Train is both fast and funny.  It is definitely not a film for the kids, but everyone else will enjoy it.

 Along with the abundance of transit scenes is the similar abundance of NYC Transit personnel who receive credits for the film.  Congratulations to Jack Lusk, Joseph Hofmann, and Alberteen Anderson for their appearances.

Review by Joe Raskin 

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The Taking of Pelham 123 - You just knew that we were going to get to this movie sooner or later, didn't you?  Based on John Godey's novel, Joseph Sargent's 1974 thriller remains the definitive subway film.  Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and Earl Hindman play a group of hijackers who take over a downtown No. 6 train and hold its passengers for ransom.  Walter Matthau plays the Transit Police Lieutenant trying to maintain control of the situation while negotiating with Shaw over the radio.  How the police, transit employees, and the city react to this situation makes up the core of a fast, exciting, and funny film that never lets up until the end.

Many transit buffs will tell you about all of the inaccuracies (wouldn't it be great if our Command Center actually looked like the one in the film?).  Big deal.  Matthau (brilliant as always) and Shaw (who sounds like he just came off of the set of a James Bond movie) carry on a terrific cat-and-mouse dialogue to an electrifying conclusion (if you've seen the film, you understand the joke).

Review by Joe Raskin  

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Coming Soon: More Movies

 

Subway Web News 2005