From dark subculture movies and gang stories to romantic comedies and musicals, here are some of Brooklyn’s top cult classics – the movies you watch over and over again and quote with your friends.
The Warriors (1979)
What it’s about: The Warriors is about a gang from Brooklyn’s Coney Island, falsely accused of shooting and killing a rival gang leader. The Warriors have to fight their way through New York back to the safety of their home turf in Coney Island.
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Beck, James Remar, Deborah Van Valkenburgh
Famous Quote: “Warriors, come out to play”
Tagline: These are the Armies of The Night. They are 60,000 strong. They outnumber the cops three to one. They could run New York City. Tonight they’re all out to get the Warriors.
Trivia: Remember when rival gang member Luther said “Warriors, come out to play”? Actor David Patrick Kelley improvised that line based on a memory of neighborhood kids taunting him.
Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990)
What it’s about: Last Exit to Brooklyn was an adaptation of Brooklynite Hubert Selby Jr’s book about growing up in the gritty Red Hook section of Brooklyn in the 1950’s.
Director: Uli Edel
Cast: Stephen Lang, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Burt Young
Tagline: The Novel That Shocked The World Is Now A Movie.
Trivia: The film never had commercial success due to its dark subject matter.
The Wiz (1978)
What it’s about: The Wiz was a loose adaptation of the Wizard of Oz using an all African-American cast in New York City.
Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Michael Jackson, Ted Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor
Famous Quote: “Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.”
Tagline: The Motown remake of “The Wizard of Oz”!
Trivia: You’ll see parts of Brooklyn throughout the film, such as Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, but there’s some confusion as to where Dorothy is from. She says her address is 433 Prospect Place, which is in Brooklyn. But Aunt Em says Dorothy has never been below 125th Street in Harlem.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
What it’s about: Brooklyn teenager, Tony Manero, thinks his only chance to succeed in life is to win on the dance floor. It’s a peek behind the scenes of the disco lifestyle in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn during the 70s.
Director: John Badham
Cast: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Paul Pape and Brooklynite Donna Pescow who went to Sheepshead Bay High School.
Famous Quote: “Would ya just watch the hair? Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.”
Tagline: …Catch it!
Trivia: Although Brooklyn’s famous Verrazano Narrows bridge plays an important part in the film, director John Badham considered the image of the Brooklyn Bridge in the beginning of the movie to be symbolic to the film’s meaning. “Our first image is of the Brooklyn Bridge and how it connects back to Brooklyn from Manhattan”. That’s a key image in this film as the connection between these two worlds which are so close together and yet so far apart at the same time.”
The French Connection (1971)
What it’s about: This gritty police drama is about two New York City narcotics cops who are trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France.
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider
Famous Quote: “When’s the last time you picked your feet, Willy? Who’s your connection, Willy? What’s his name? I’ve got a man in Poughkeepsie who wants to talk to you. You ever been to Poughkeepsie?”
Tagline: The time is just right for an out and out thriller like this.
Trivia: Ask anyone what the greatest car chase scene of all time and they’ll tell you it was in The French Connection. The dangerous scene was shot right in Brooklyn under the elevated train on 86th (the same place where John Travolta struts his stuff during the opening credits in Saturday Night Fever). There was no choreography and no permits.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
What it’s about: It follows four people, from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, who become addicted to drugs and watch their dreams get shattered.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans
Famous Quote: “We got a winner! I said, weeeeee got a WINNER!! WE GOT A WINNER!!!”
Tagline: From the director of [Pi].
Trivia: Requiem for a Dream is an adaptation of Brooklynite Hubert Selby’s book of the same name.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
What it’s about: Dog Day Afternoon was based on a real life bank robbery that took place in Brooklyn on August 22, 1972. It turns into a hostage situation and media frenzy.
Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale
Famous Quote: “Attica! Attica!”
Tagline: Nobody could dream him up. His incredible bank robbery is all the more bizarre…because it’s true.
Trivia: Rumor has it that John Wojtowicz, the robber who was portrayed by Al Pacino in the film, watched ‘The Godfather’ right before attempting to rob the bank. Coincidentally parts of The Godfather were filmed in Brooklyn too.
What it’s about: Moonstruck is the story of Loretta Castorini, from Brooklyn Heights, who falls in love with her fiance’s brother played by Nicolas Cage.
Director: Norman Jewison
Cast: Cher, Nicolas Cage and Brooklynite Olympia Dukakis
Famous Quote: “Snap out of it!”
Tagline: Life. Family. Love.
Trivia: The two meet for the first time at the legendary Cammareri Bakery in Brooklyn.
The Lords of Flatbush (1974)
What it’s about: A coming of age story set in 1950s Brooklyn where a group of kids form a gang and find a new set of problems.
Director: Martin Davidson and Stephen F. Verona
Cast: Before Fonize or Rocky there was The Lords of Flatbush starring Henry Winkler, Sylvester Stallone and Perry King.
Tagline: Stanley Had a Leather Jacket and Franny Had Acne. In 1958 They Found Each Other.
Trivia: Henry Winkler said his character in The Lords of Flatbush inspired the character of Fonzie in Happy Days.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
What it’s about: Do the Right Thing looks at life on the hottest day of the year on one street in Brooklyn. Racial tensions rise after a customer wonders why Pizza Shop owner, Sal Fragione, only has photos of Italian-Americans on the walls when the shop is located in a primarily African-American neighborhood.
Director: Spike Lee who grew up in Brooklyn and went to John Dewey High School. Cast: Brooklynites Spike Lee, Rosie Perez and John Turturro.
Famous Quote: “Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.”
Tagline: It’s the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can…
Trivia: Did you know that Do The Right Thing was shot entirely on Stuyvesant Avenue between Quincy Street and Lexington Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn?
Want to see locations from some of your favorite cult classics made in Brooklyn? Come on one of our tours to see where the movie magic happens as we feature the movies listed here and many more!