I brought it up in post #10. As I say, the scenes are set up in a way to exclude everyone who’s not in the cast, which required considerable ingenuity. They shot one scene in Times Square – it shows the Christ character (Victor Garber!) and the John the Baptist/Judas character dancing on the Timex animated billboard, with them and the animations performing the same dance steps. They managed to not get anyone else in the shot by shooting up at the sign.
The Bronx is Burning, particularly the book but also the ESPN miniseries. The 1977 New York Yankees are the axis of the story (especially in the ESPN version), but by no means all of it–lots of people who aren’t particularly baseball (or Yankee) fans, but appreciate the mosaic of New York, have loved it. Other major story lines include the mayoral race, the blackout riot, and the Son of Sam.
How about Serpico? It was also a book too…not sure if the book was first or if the film and book were co-created.
Cruising came out in 1980 but that’s pretty close, and it has that seedy 1970s NYC feel.
Oh god, !'ve tried to forget CBGB’s.
The book, by Peter Maas (who’d previously written The Valachi Papers, also filmed) definitely came first.
The Andy Warhol Diaries, for the daily flow of life among a particular, interesting segment of society. It rings especially true for having been dictated as it happened. As a bonus, it’s very funny.
The city was broke, and I do mean broke.
If you read NYC hipster blogs, you’ll see that the '70s are their golden age. Crime and grime equal authenticity to them - probably because they have no feeling for New Uork’s history before that time.
Also, the 1970 version of the The Out-of-Towners which depicts the city going to seed both externally and internally.
Thank you all! Lots of great suggestions. I’d never have thought of looking out for Godspell, for example. Or old magazines or specific events like the blackout for some reason. I’ll check them all out, especially Man On A Wire. Interesting to learn Broadway was once so cheap. How on earth did they make any money, I wonder? I guess the theater rents were all much lower too back in the day.
Know you of any such blogs? I guess today is my day for looking dumb but I have no clue about who are names in the world of NYC hipsters. :o
I have been enjoying this (image heavy) fantastic thread of 1970s pictures over at Wired New York though
I wholeheartedly second that recommendation. Great book, really captures what was going on in the city that summer. I was a kid then, but I do remember a lot of this stuff.
Or even not that far back … New York Magazine did a fantastic issue around two years ago that was a look back on the 70s and early 80s. Okay, it’s the 40th Anniversary Issue:
There is a lot of weird/interesting nostalgia for 1970s New York these days … a lot of it, IMHO, is unrealistic (even for nostalgia), but that magazine issue made me remember WHY people feel so affectionate about some of the aspects of 70s NYC.
One big difference that stands out after my recent visits to the city – during the Christmas holidays I could walk down 5th Avenue, through Rockefeller Center, and get into the Natural History and Metropolitan Museum of Art quickly and easily. The last time we went, you couldn’t move. Literally, in the case of Rockefeller Center – it was wall-to-wall people and you couldn’t move without elbowing someone aside. Not as in “you’d hit somebody if you tried to walk fast”, but as in “people were touching you from al sides”. I can’t believe the crowding in NYC these days.
Cripes, I can’t think of the names just now. The one I visited most was strongly anti-gentrification to the point of being anti-renewal and writing screeds in favor of things like architectural decay and cranky tradespeople. They had a little glossary on the front page in a sidebar with nicknames for various kinds of out-of-town dumbshits. It was all very much New-Yorker-than-thou.
My Father’s Gun: One Family, Three Badges, One Hundred Years in the NYPD covers three generations of officers from circa 1890 to 1987. Of particular interest is how a botched raid nearly caused the drug bust popularly known as “The French Connection” to, well, go bust.
Hmm, no one mentioned the many TV series set in NYC of the era (well, to be fair neither did the OP).
The Odd Couple
All in the Family
Welcome Back Kotter
Barney Miller (well, this was mentioned)
and so on.
Broadly, the early '70s was still the ‘Fun City’ (such as it was) era under Lindsay (I was a tyke back then, so this is from my parents and other secondary sources), mid-70s was Abe Beame and the doom and gloom Fiscal Crisis, and the late 70s was the 1st Koch term (and at the very end of the 70s, sort of the light at the end of the tunnel indicating the coming 80s rebirth of NY as the place to be (and not an oncoming Subway train headlight).
In the early 1970s we lived in South East Queens, so - to put it bluntly - we were white, so we took flight; from the perspective of the Suburbs in the 1970s NYC was kind of a crime ridden, bankrupt cesspool, with a few bright spots such as Midtown and Wall Street, Madison Square Garden (get to and from the Garden via the LIRR directly without even going onto the streets), Shea Stadium (well, that was pretty bleak in the late 70s too), and so on. My dad worked for the city during the 70s and 80s, and had nothing but disparaging remarks for the city beaurocracy and civil service. I only realized later on (when I went to college in the city) that my perception of the city as being dark were really quite off…then again it was Koch’s second term, so NYC was well on the way to becoming the shining city on the Hill again - heck, even Peter Hamill wrote a column about middle class people moving back to the city in the 1980s.
Another possible movie to watch is Little Murders with Elliott Gould. It’s set in 1971 and also has a very bleak picture of New York.
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue is a great movie from 1975…A funny one to boot.
Long Live Lemmon.