Obeying a seemingly ubiquitous impulse, Scorsese also rolls out his favorite shot-in-New York classics. (The American Museum of the Moving Image's recent, identically themed New York Film Critics Circle series used some of the same movies.) Thus, the Scorsese-beloved '50s predominate (Woody Allen's Manhattan is the only post-Nixon inclusion), and being mostly noir, few of the entries are very joyful. Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront, Abraham Polonsky's seminal Force of Evil, Stanley Kubrick's wicked indie Killer's Kiss, Jules Dassin's The Naked City, and, of course, Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell of Success all offer glimpses of post-war Manhattan brimming with vice and capitalist desperation. (The juxtaposition of Polonsky and Kazanthe HUAC's forgotten Jesus and forgiven-by-some Judasis its own implicit plea for healing.) Likewise, Hitchcock's The Wrong Manis as paranoid and discomfiting a portrait of New York bureaucracy as Hollywood ever producedand it's a true story. Hey, Marty, what's wrong with The In-Laws?
The semi-rarities are Raoul Walsh's Regeneration, a 1915 melodrama shot on and around the Bowery and the East Side docks. Walsh recruited lowlife extras from the neighborhood, and the movie's portrait of WW I-era downtown is pure lightning-as-history. Also relatively difficult to find, Anthony Mann's Side Street(1950) reunites Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell from the previous year's landmark They Live by Nightfor a classically grim noir scenario that presages the opening absconded-funds movement of Psycho. Again, Manhattan's a maze for hapless rats, particularly as Mann shoots itin almost Rossellinian overhead angles and with the scrupulous, crystal-clear regard for landscape Mann famously demonstrated in his westerns as well as Men in War. So be it: For New Yorkers, a little bad luck, despair, and pessimism never meant having to say you're sorry to live here. Michael Atkinson
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