How two New York classics captured the essence of Times Square then – and what they tell us about it now.
No two films capture the urban grime and desperate time of New York City in the late 1960s and 1970s like John Schlesinger’s “Midnight Cowboy” and Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” Both films set much of their action in Times Square (and specifically on “The Deuce,” the block of porno houses and grindhouses on 42nd between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), evocatively documenting that district in its heyday – or its nadir, depending on who you talk to.
In this episode, we’ll examine the history of Times Square, and its evolution from Gotham’s epicenter of sex to its soulless current iteration, as well as the making of “Midnight Cowboy” and “Taxi Driver.” And in telling those stories, we’ll look at how the “Disneyfication” of Times Square mirrors the suburbanization of New York, and ask what was lost (and gained) in the transition.
Our guests are “Midnight Cowboy” cinematographer Adam Holender, film critic and historian Glenn Kenny, historian and author Kim Phillips-Fein, and “Taxi Driver” director Martin Scorsese.
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