N.Y. Times critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis were recently asked to choose the five best New York movies for a special project called “One Film, One New York.” The winners were Spike Lee‘s Crooklyn, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen‘s On the Town, Susan Seidelman‘s Desperately Seeking Susan, Ang Lee‘s The Wedding Banquet and Martin Scorsese‘s New York, New York.
Scott and Dargis were somewhat restricted by having to choose films that are more or less family-friendly or, you know, not too coarse or graphic or profane. Which is sorta like being asked to choose the best westerns in which gunslingers don’t wear six-shooter holsters around their waist.
On top of which New York, New York was regarded at the time of its release as a notorious cocaine movie. A whole lotta tootin’ goin’ on, and yet 40 years later a pair of top-tier critics…forget it.
I haven’t re-watched any of their picks since their original release, and that goes double for New York, New York. I caught it a little more than 40 years ago, and only once at that. It’s basically a ’40s and ’50s period piece about a singer and a saxophone player (Liza Minelli, Robert DeNiro) who discover that they’re incompatible after getting hitched in a hurry and having a kid, largely because the sax player has a temperamental nature.
I’ve written a couple of times that it has one terrific scene — i.e., when De Niro is thrown out of a club that Minelli is performing in, and he kicks out several light bulbs adorning the entrance way as he’s manhandled out by the manager and a bouncer. If I could only find that scene on YouTube, but there’s no trace of it.
You still can’t stream New York, New York, and for people with limited search abilities (like myself) the only way to catch a high-def version is to buy a 2013 English import Bluray.