Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★

In 1997, gruff Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), an ex-soldier turned convict, is sent to Manhattan, now a maximum security prison, to rescue the stranded US President (Donald Pleasance).

Released 40 years ago this past Saturday, July 10th, Escape From New York is a dark, gritty, and gripping sci-fi action thriller that introduced Snake Plissken as one of pop culture’s most great anti-heroes. Much like in Assault on Precinct 13, John Carpenter once again pays loving homage to the westerns of his youth by casting Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine, and directs Kurt Russell to basically play Snake as if he was one of Clint Eastwood’s characters in his old spaghetti westerns. Snake rarely raises his voice, and while he is the protagonist, there’s nothing to redeem or absolve him, nor any kind of noble sacrifice. Everyone in the movie, including characters played by Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adrienne Barbeau, is largely in it for their own survival. 

Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, one of pop culture’s most iconic characters, and another awesome score from Carpenter (with help from Alan Howarth), Escape From New York is a B-movie classic that is just as entertaining as it was forty years ago. 

Stray notes:
- Apparently the studio was very hesitant to hire Russell because up until then, he was mostly known as a Disney actor. 

- I love that Snake’s real name is Bob, and there’s never an explanation for his eye patch

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