My Gritty Dozen 1970’s NYC Crime Films

This list is a result of recently reading author David Gordon’s article on Crime Reads. Like David, I grew up and lived in New York during its grittiest down and dirty days.  It’s a bit ironic that during New York’s ugliest days some of the best films set in the city were made during that time. I was already a movie freak, and while I liked a wide variety of movies I found myself attracted to crime films at a very young age. Two of the earliest I remember seeing on the big screen were Al Capone and Baby Face Nelson. While most parents took their under ten years of age kids to only Disney films, my folks took me to more adult movies too including gangster films.

Without further ado, here are my favorite crimes films from the 1970’s.


The Panic in Needle Park (1971)


Dog Day Afternoon (1975) 

Dog Day

Mean Streets (1973)


Taxi Driver (1976)


Klute (1971)


Shaft (1971)


The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (!974) 


The French Connection (1971)


Serpico (1973)


Across 110th Street (1972)


Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)


Death Wish (1974)



Originally posted at John Greco Author. 

Fingers (1978) James Toback

“Fingers” can be seen as a portrait of the artist as a small time enforcer. Jimmy Angellini (Harvey Keitel),  the quirky anti-hero of James Toback’s film directing debut is living a dual life, one of a sensitive artist, an aspiring pianist on the verge of an audition with a major impresario at Carnegie Hall. The other life is that of a street wise hood who acts as an enforcer for his father (Michael V. Gazzo), a small time loan shark. Jimmy however, doesn’t fit into either world, he has no friends and his only constant companion is a portable cassette tape player on which he is always playing the same songs, fifties rock and roll classics like “Summertime, Summertime” by The Jamies, “even when it’s fuckin’ 15 degrees outside,” as his father tells him.  His musical taste, like his life, is splintered between classical music and rock and roll.  Jimmy’s parents continue the duality theme in his life, his father, the low level hood while his late mother was a former musician, neither of who seemed to have bestowed much love on their son. Old Dad, at one point even wishes he had strangled Jimmy when he was a kid still in his crib. Mom was always resentful of his musical talent. Continue reading