Fun City Cinema: New York City and the Movies that Made It

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By Jason Bailey Foreword by Matt Zoller Seitz

A visual history of 100 years of filmmaking in New York City, featuring exclusive interviews with NYC filmmakers

Fun City Cinema gives readers an in-depth look at how the rise, fall, and resurrection of New York City was captured and chronicled in ten iconic Gotham films across ten decades: The Jazz Singer (1927), King Kong (1933), The Naked City (1948), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Taxi Driver (1976), Wall Street (1987), Kids (1995), 25th Hour (2002), and Frances Ha (2012). A visual history of a great American city in flux, Fun City Cinema reveals how these classic films and legendary filmmakers took their inspiration from New York City’s grittiness and splendor, creating what we can now view as “accidental documentaries” of the city’s modes and moods.

In addition to the extensively researched and reported text, the book includes both historical photographs and production materials, as well as still-frames, behind-the-scenes photos, posters, and original interviews with Noah Baumbach, Larry Clark, Greta Gerwig, Walter Hill, Jerry Schatzberg, Martin Scorsese, Susan Seidelman, Oliver Stone, and Jennifer Westfeldt. Extensive "Now Playing" sidebars spotlight a handful of each decade’s additional films of note.


"By collapsing the distance between the dream New York and the one we can see, this marvelous book illuminates a third New York: the one that lives forever in the movies. From the rise of the skyscraper to post-9/11 anxiety, from the age of grime and crime to the era of excessive gentrification,Fun City Cinemashows how movies have kept pace with the city's myriad transformations, whether we're talking ten decades ago, ten years ago, or ten minutes ago."—film critic for TIME, Stephanie Zacharek
"You know the scene in The Man Who Would Be King when Sean Connery and Michael Caine glimpse the treasure room, waiting for them since the time of Alexander the Great? If New York is the room, this book is the treasure."—author of Mystery Train and “Real Life Rock”, Greil Marcus
"Jason Bailey's elegant, deeply informed journey through 100 years of New York movies and moviemaking is a remarkable history of a city, an industry, and an art form that continues to capture a metropolis in constant motion and evolution. It's suffused with passion for and knowledge about both the films and their urban milieu—and it's an ideal companion volume for anyone who wants to explore either, or both."—author of Pictures at a Revolution, Five Came Back, and Mike Nichols: A Life, Mark Harris
"Bailey's book is a double anatomy—one of a city, the other of its filmic depictions. His astonishing talents as a researcher yield historical ore that his astonishing critical acumen turns into film-lover gold. Even when you disagree with his conclusions, the connections he makes will send your own thinking into heretofore unconsidered dimensions."—author of Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas, Glenn Kenny
"Fun City Cinemais a beautifully exhaustive, insightful, and engrossing study of New York City and the movies that reflected its political, economic, and cultural shifts over a century. Bailey writes eloquently not just about the importance and artistry of these films, but also how they helped shape our sense of the city in which they were set. This is a marvelous history of the Big Apple seen through the eyes of an incisive film critic who serves as a knowledgeable, ingratiating tour guide."—author of This Is How You Make a Movie, Tim Grierson
"Fun City is an astonishing history of NYC told through the films that shot on the streets and the politics that shaped each era. From the glamor of early talkies to the grit of film noir to the dirty old New York of the 1970s. Page after page of fascinating behind the scenes tales of classics like Sweet Smell of Success, Midnight Cowboy, Taxi Driver, and Uncut Gems. It's a book full of insightful prose and great photos that I found impossible to put down."—co-writer of Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flint, and Dolemite Is My Name, Larry Karaszewski