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Who will play Charles Bronson?
New York is about to elect a new mayor, and if New Yorkers elect Bill de Blasio it could open up opportunities for Hollywood in the City that haven’t existed since the mid-1970s.
Recently, Hollow-wood’s handiworks have been pretty darned uninspired, and it worth the effort to reflect on a Golden-like Age of film that is now famous for the way in which the industry was able to capture authentic New York grittiness on screen.
New York of the 1970s was the setting for some classic films, because it was the setting for some classic crime.
Where to begin? Inspiration in Gotham waited on every street corner. Do mob shootings sing to you? Joey Gallo’s murder inspired Bob Dylan to write ‘Joey’ in 1975. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Gallo Films)
Are bombings your thing? Some of New York’s 1970s bombings still echo and not just in the streets of Manhattan. Some of President Obama’s buddies were linked to famous boomtown events like the Greenwich Village townhouse blast. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwich_Village_townhouse_explosion)
Bill Ayers denies any parallel to the Boston Marathon bombings, but it’s easy to imagine what a clever screenwriter could do with this story. (http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/06/bill-ayers-defends-weather-underground...)
And that’s not all. The terrorist FALN, a Puerto Rican group, bombed Fraunces Tavern on January 24, 1975, to advance the cause of something, something, along with more than 100 other attacks. Some of the original members might even be available for cameo appearances since Bill Clinton pardoned sixteen of them in 1999. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraunces_Tavern#Bombing)
I see a new series of 24 episodes with Bubba making guest appearances.
If a diverse bunch of Puerto Rican terrorists don’t work, maybe the return of Black Liberation Army activists anxious to relive bygone days would get the old creative liberal juices flowing. Or maybe the Blaxsploitation school could be revived. I’ll bet Al Sharpton would like producer credits. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Liberation_Army#Activities)
Serial killers are another perennial movie favorite, and New York in the ‘70s offered killers like the Son of Sam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Berkowitz), but it also featured fun, stupid criminals, too. Dog Day Afternoon, a 1975 Al Pacino Academy Award winner, was inspired by one of the latter. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wojtowicz)
The flip side of stupid criminal coins show the portraits of crooked cops, sort of like the various state quarters with buffalo portraits. The movie Serpico, the 1973 story about Frank Serpico also starring Al Pacino, is pretty much the classic dirty cop film. (http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/04/what_frank_serp.php)
And what other city in the world does blackouts and looting better than ‘70s New York. The July 13–14, 1977, power loss was followed by widespread rioting and looting. Ah, summer in New York--trapped in an elevator with a dozen of your closest friends. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Blackout_of_1977#Effects)
Celebrity and not-so-celebrated murders in large numbers--remember Kitty Genovese?--finally inspired the common folks to take a stand and form citizen vigilante groups like the Guardian Angels. Kitty was killed in 1964, and the GA formed in 1979, which says something about the patience (or fear) of normal people.
New York in those years also saw the first face-on-a-milk-carton campaign when Etan Patz vanished May 25, 1979. Unfortunately, the six year-old was never found.
Finally, in a bow to the folks who tossed DOMA, I’d include Midnight Cowboy, even though it came out in 1969, an award-winning reminder of the good things that might come out of a re-energized film industry paired with a wide open New York.
Electing de Blasio may not work out well for New Yorkers in the long run, but it could be a boon to Hollywood. I’m really excited about the reboot of the Death Wish series.
This collection of photographs is a wonderful reminder of the face of NY in the ‘70s: