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Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters
Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

7 Film Posters That Capture the Essence of New York City

Picture of Graham Fuller
Film Editor
Updated: 18 January 2017
Finding movie posters that evoke the authentic New York — as opposed to the mythical city — may test even the most avid collector. Designers often place landmarks in the backgrounds of posters, emphasizing instead human iconography or character archetypes. The posters for King Kong and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example, sell the big ape and Holly Golightly respectively, not the city (which Kong dwarfs). The posters shown above and below are much more redolent of New York-ness.

Manhattan (1979)

(Feature image) The turbulent romance of Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) and Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton) pauses for a dawn idyll at Sutton Place on 58th Street, overlooking the East River and beside the Queensboro Bridge. The film’s best-known image — taken by Gordon Willis at 5am — is an emblem for modern New York cinema. Simon and Garfunkel put Queensboro on the pop culture map without actually referring to it in 1966’s The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).


Rear Window (1954)

The main set for Alfred Hitchcock’s sardonic thriller was based on a courtyard at 125 Christopher Street (built in 1948) in the West Village, though the address given in the film is 125 West 9th Street. Designed by Hal Pereira, it was built on a sound stage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. This poster tries to downplay the phallic nature of L.B. Jeffries’ (James Stewart) obsessive voyeurism by showing him wielding his binoculars rather than his camera and telephoto lens — but we still get the idea.



Taxi Driver (1976)

The vice emporiums around Times Square and along 42nd Street have been swept away since Martin Scorsese directed this lurid classic. The film’s poster was probably inspired by Dennis Stock’s famous photograph of James Dean walking in the rain in Times Square in 1955.

TAXI DRIVER (1976) poster 7


Saturday Night Fever (1977)

The only interior image on this list is instantly recognizable because of John Travolta’s white suit and pose. It is the shot which, more than any other, memorializes New York’s love affair with disco, and it has dated less than the coarsely misogynistic film itself.



Sid and Nancy (1986)

Toward the end of their heroin-fueled liebestod (love-death), Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) were filmed by Alex Cox on an empty lot with garbage cans plummeting from the sky. This isn’t the most famous poster for the film, but it is the most atmospheric.



New York Stories (1989)

This painting of an East Village tenement made a pleasingly simple graphic for the anthology film directed by Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, though it only conveyed Allen’s contribution. It has gained poignancy because of the background image of the World Trade Center standing in a perfect pale blue sky.


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

The poster for the Coen Brothers’ melancholy comedy was inspired by the album cover photo — taken by Don Hunstein in the West Village — for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Whereas Dylan was photographed with his girlfriend Suze Rotolo on his arm, however, Llewyn (Oscar Issac) is saddled with a cat: just one of the burdens he bears as a talented but self-destructive folk singer out of touch with the times that are a-changin’.