New York City has been an important part of film history since the birth of cinema. One unsung hero of our cities landmarks has had more than it’s fair share of starring roles; the subway. Take a look at some of the most important.
The subway effects all of our lives. More often than not, not in the most positive of ways. As thousands upon thousands of people travel its trains and tunnels, an argument can be made that the NYC subway is the MOST visited of the city’s landmarks. With that said, it’s only natural that Hollywood would capitalize on the fame of our subway as a backdrop for drama, romance, and comedy.
We’ve put together a list of the most iconic scenes in cinema that feature our infamous subway. Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments, for now, just scroll and enjoy:
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)
In 1961 New York City, folk singer Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, struggles against many obstacles to make a name for himself in the music world. In the above scene, you see Davis, and his cat, ride the 1 train from 96th Street to Christopher Street.
“Men in Black II” (2002)
In the sequel to Men in Black, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) reunite to once again protect the planet from alien threats. In the above scene, you see Jay taking on a gigantic worm named Jeff, as he causes havoc on the subway. Jeff is supposed to only roam the E, F, and M lines, but after Jay’s new partner agrivates the worm, he takes out his frustration on the C train.
PI, is a surreal journey through the mind of a tortured genius. After encountering a mysterious number and reporting, Max Cohen finds himself the target of ill-intentioned Wall Street agents bent on using the number for profit. You can see a few stations in this Darren Aronofsky film; including East Broadway and 15th St-Prospect Park, seen here.
“Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995)
In the third installment of the John McClane saga, the NYC cop is on the hunt for Hans Gruber’s brother Simon, played by Jeremy Irons. Gruber has rigged a downtown 3 train to explode. Bruce Willis has only 30 minutes to get from 72nd Street to a payphone at the Wall Street station.
“Crocodile Dundee” (1986)
In the final scene of this fish-out-of-water story, Sue follows Dundee to the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station where she tries to get his attention before the climactic embrace.
“After Hours” (1985)
Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy, After Hours, is like a tour through a bygone NYC. One of the few places you might actually recognize is the Spring St subway station on Sixth Avenue, where Paul (Griffin Dunne) tries to board a subway… if only he had enough change.
“The Warriors” (1979)
This gang movie is comical by modern standards, but in its day (and now, for many cinephiles) its a classic. When a street gang called The Warriors are mistakenly fingered for the killing of a gang leader, every gang in the city out to get revenge and they must make their way across NYC to their own turf, Coney Island. Much of the action in this film takes place in the NYC subway.
“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)
There’s a lot of subway in Saturday Night Fever, much of Tony’s (John Travolta) story arc takes place in south Brooklyn. Want to know why the elderly women in your family have an irrational love for John Travolta? This film and “Grease” are to blame.
“The Taking of Pelham 123” (1974)
Criminals hold the 6 Train hostage for $1 million. Authorities have an hour before they start to kill a hostage every minute. Transit Authority workers are the heroes here, makes a refreshing change, huh?
“Death Wish” (1974)
The quintessential revenge movie. After his wife is murdered and daughter raped, Paul Kersey, played by Charles Bronson, goes on a vigilante spree through New York City. In this scene we see hoodlums walking through the AA (now the C) Train and try to mug Kelsey. Being quite the honey-badger, it doesn’t end well for the Ne’er-do-well’s. Kelsey gets off at 86th Street station on the Upper West Side.
“The French Connection” (1971)
In this iconic scene from the William Friedkin film, we see New York City detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Schieder) as they pursue Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), a heroin smuggler through the city. In this scene we see Charnier waving as the 42nd Street Shuttle pulls away.
Look closely, yeah, that’s a young Silvester Stalone. This 1971 move sees Woody Allen evict the thugs from the train at Grand Central, only to see them re-board seconds later.
“Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)
We couldn’t find the scene, but here you can enjoy the trailer of the second of the original five Planet of the Apes Movies. Here you see what’s left of the former New York City.
“The Incident” (1967)
Hoods get on the train at 170th street in the Bronx and terrorize the subway to Grand Central Terminal. Fun fact: the MTA didn’t allow the filmmakers to film on their property… what did the filmmakers do? They filmed the exteriors there and shot the interiors subway car shots in a mock-up originally made for the 1939 worlds fair.