10 Classic New York City Counterculture Movies

Few cities capture the American imagination quite like New York, which explains why so many great films are set here. Time Out New York recently took on the estimable task of ranking the 100 best New York movies of all time, and we’re fans of just about everything they selected. But our most beloved films about the city will always have to do with its ever-changing countercultures, and although TONY included a handful of excellent examples (Paris Is Burning, Smithereens, Wild Style, etc.), we can’t help adding to the list. After the jump, we round up 10 classic New York counterculture movies, some of which may well be too campy, silly, or niche to belong on a “100 best” list, but all of which we consider required viewing.

The Panic in Needle Park (1971)

It was his performance as Michael Corleone in The Godfather that made Al Pacino famous, but it was this role that put him on Francis Ford Coppola’s radar in the first place. This dark and gritty drama, which takes place on the Upper West Side long before it was the pricey neighborhood we know today, follows a junkie named Bobby (Pacino) as he drags Kitty (Helen Reeves), who’s hopelessly in love with him, along on a journey to the depths of addiction. Joan Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, wrote the screenplay.