Formative 10: Escape from New York

Well, I guess I gotta get going on my formative 10 because what has taken me almost eight months, has taken D’Arcy Norman all of three days. I find it interesting how much a formative 10 can tell you about someone, for example given D’Arcy’s first three films it’s pretty obvious he’s a science nerd 🙂 Now me, kinda like Uli, I’m a nihilist, and it is, indeed, exhausting.

Escape from New York Movie Poster in Italian Escape from New York is a no-brainer for the formative 10, this movie may very well be the most perfectly conceived plot ever filmed, and it is without question my favorite film storyline of all time. Interestingly enough, John Carpenter is responsible for two of my formative ten, this one as well as the The Thing (which I recently blogged). Moreover, Assault on Precinct 13 would have been a shoe-in for the formative 15 and I blogged it as a kind of preview to this series many moons ago. It’s interesting that this exercise has brought into sharp focus just how important John Carpenter has been in my early years of film watching, and I’d just like to thank him for helping to make me such a huge fan of the form.

So, what now? I could talk about how cool Isaac Hayes was as the Duke of New York or how much I dug the terrorists that hijacked the Air Force 1 at the beginning of the film or how Harry Dean Stanton’s role as Brain remains one of his most memorable for me (“Unless you know exactly, precisely where it is…”) or even the crazy haired sidekick to the Duke of NY who hisses in a most peculiar way. I could do all this, and I haven’t even gotten to Snake Plissken yet. Or, I could show you a series of clips that capture the essence of this film. So, OK, dim the lights and get ready for some YouTube, roll ’em please:

The voice over (which is Jamie Lee Curits) at the beginning of the film sets up the situation brilliantly.

And here is the hissing maniac that shows off the President’s finger (love this guy!):

Scene wherein Hauk (played by the immortal Lee Van Cleef, the ultimate badass) recruits Snake for the mission to rescue the President from the prison that is Manhattan Island:

There’s the scene where the cannibalistic Mole People come out of the ground and grab Season Hubley, this was possibly the most memorable scene of the whole film for me at the time.

The Duke of NY (A#1) (played by the late Isaac Hayes) doing a little target practice with the President of the US (played by Donald Pleasance who is genius in this film, I might add).

Couldn’t find the scene of Brain (played by the legendary Harry Dean Stanton, perhaps my favorite actor of all time) on YouTube I wanted, so I will settle for when he stabs the crazy-haired hissing freak (the character is actually named Romero).

And there are many many more scenes in this film that make it simply amazing. In fact, I believe that it is still one of the best paced and consistently compelling action films ever made. Escape from New York, arguably Carpenter’s best, and maybe the last truly great American film ever made 🙂

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12 Responses to Formative 10: Escape from New York

  1. Brad says:

    “Now me, kinda like Uli, I’m a nihilist, and it is, indeed, exhausting.”

    Three cheers for Mr. Jim Groom. Some day we will discuss Lebowski in length, & that day will be considered a very important day in both our lives indeed. I can sense it!

  2. Andy says:

    I like to think I have something to say about most filmsm and indeed things, but I bow down before Escape like the drooling fanboy I am.

  3. Reverend says:


    You know, I introduced The Big Lebowski this last Thursday night for the film club, it was a lot of fun. I talked about the Lebowski as the first internet cult classic, wish you were there. But we can pick up that conversation over dinner soon –I’ll get back to you on that shortly.

    My thoughts exactly, there ain’t too much bad I can say about this film, and when it came to favorite parts it was pretty much the whole movie. Now that’s a sign of a monumental film.

  4. Andy says:

    Since the post on The Warriors, I have watched it again three or four times. I’m fascinated by how it creates its world in all the surreal brush strokes.

    Escape and Warriors both have a kind of quality that seems missing in recent movies that have infinitely larger resources and tech at their disposal.

  5. Mike says:

    Escape From New York is on in the background which is how I found your sweet blog as I am trying to figure out the actor who plays the hissing guy. I heard him utter a line and something clicked in my neural identification software, (In my head.), and I swear that his voice and inflections made me think maybe it was an uncredited role for a young John Malkovich. I mean sounded exactly like him. Thought for the day.~Mike.

  6. Mike says:

    Looks like it’s John Diehl. lol.

  7. Mike says:

    Gracias, Reverend. =^)

  8. Mike says:

    Are you giving me the finger? =P

  9. Mike says:

    That’s cool. I couldn’t resist the play on words. =^)

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