Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right 13 movies that capture the NYC subway as it was
Warriors (1979) “Come out to play-aaay!” You know the taunt—and if you don’t, shame on you for never having seen Walter Hill’s seminal gang classic. Fine, so it looks a little like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video; a clash with the cops on a subway platform remains terrifying. Sept 26 at 3, 5, 7:30, 9:45pm
Style Wars (1983) Tony Silver’s essential graffiti-artist shout-out was made on the cusp of hip-hop’s breakthrough. You almost wish these train cars—beautiful, mobile works of art—still greeted you on the platform. Sept 27 at 3, 7:30pm
Beat Street (1984) One of the first hip-hop-themed movies, Beat Street was shot on location in the South Bronx and follows a teen DJ as he plies his trade. Break-dancers have a showdown on the 57th Street subway platform. Sept 27 at 5, 9:30pm
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) The color-coded criminals in Reservoir Dogs were inspired by this first-rate thriller, in which Robert Shaw and his gang hijack a Gotham subway train and ask for…$1 million! Hey, it was 1974. Sept 28 at 2, 7pm
Midnight Cowboy (1969) Hard to believe now that this admittedly frank but hardly scandalous movie was rated X at the time of its release—and equally hard to believe that neither Jon Voight nor Dustin Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar that year. Sept 28 at 4:30, 9:30pm
Dames (1934) A goofy ol’ millionaire wants to shut down those immoral Broadway shows. (Boo!) But Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and clean-as-a-whistle Dick Powell—along with legendary director Busby Berkeley—put on one heckuva musical anyway, just to show the old coot up. One number is a surreal subway ride to dance heaven. It screens with the 21-minute 1973 short “El Atlantis,” which captures the defunct Third Avenue El. Sept 29 at 7, 9:30pm
Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) If we’re being honest, Leslie Harris’s film is amateurish—an unworthy beneficiary of early-’90s indie fever. But even though you can sometimes see the shadows of the crew, you can also see plenty of footage of subway rides, along with the confident verve of star Ariyan A. Johnson. Sept 30 at 8pm
The Clock (1945) Soldier Robert Walker falls for NYC clerical worker Judy Garland (in her finest nonmusical role) while on a two-day leave in this charming precursor to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. It screens with Stan Brakhage’s experimental six-minute short “The Wonder Ring” (1955). Oct 1 at 7, 9:15pm
On the Town (1949) New to the city? Tend to forget your map? This terrific musical, in addition to its general entertainment value, offers sound geographical information in its clever, catchy lyrics: “The Bronx is up, and the Battery’s down.” The five-minute “Daybreak Express” (1953), set to Duke Ellington’s jazz, will intro the feature. Oct 2 at 7, 9:15pm
Speedy (1928) Babe Ruth makes a cameo appearance in this fun Harold Lloyd vehicle, in which our hero attempts to save NYC’s last horse-drawn trolley. Naturally, he also makes it down to the subway for a gag or two. Pianist Steve Sterner will accompany this silent screening with a live score. Oct 3 at 7pm
The Incident (1967) Two psychopathic thugs (one of them played by a young Martin Sheen) terrorize the passengers on a Manhattan subway train. It’s a precursor to the better-known The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and, in its own way, more nightmarish. Oct 3 at 2, 4:30, 9:15pm
Saturday Night Fever (1977) How deep is your love for this classic piece of disco detritus? Though John Travolta charms with his moves, you’ll really have to dig the Bee Gees to stick around. Most of it takes place on the dance floor, but Travolta enjoys a contemplative moment or two on the train. Oct 4 at 4:30, 7, 9:30pm
The French Connection (1971) More admired than enjoyed, William Friedkin’s cop drama has a riveting tough-guy performance by Gene Hackman and an insurance-nullifying car chase involving an elevated train being pursued. Go for that sequence. Oct 5 at 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm

13 movies that capture the NYC subway as it was

Revisit the dingy days of graffiti, roving gangs and worse in BAM’s 'Retro Metro' series

By Time Out Film, edited by Joshua Rothkopf
Everyone’s got their own hellish subway story (did we tell you the one about the onboard rat who cruised to the Bronx?). Still, by and large, we have it easy compared to the way it was: a commuting nightmare that’s vividly, if sometimes incidentally captured in the 13 features and three shorts playing in BAM’s upcoming “Retro Metro” series, beginning Sat 26 and running through Oct 4. Take a taste with these images. No Metrocard required.

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