The Kemps: All True.

Music However much of a classic it's supposed to be, This is Spinal Tap felt unaccountably a bit flat. Perhaps I've seen too many real life documentaries since, the likes of Anvil: The Story of Anvil or Bros: After the Screaming Stops, which cover similar ground to Tap but feature real people. Enter The Kemps: All True, the new project from Rhys Williams, in which the real members of Spandau Ballet, both capable comic actors, bend themselves and their history into comic territory. The clips and cast look incredible although as you can see from the above embed, Williams hasn't really needed to push them in that direction too much ... [via].

New York on Film
in Chronological Order.


After ninety days in lockdown, my imagination is naturally trying to focus on other people and places, constantly reminding myself that there is a world outside of this tiny flat, somewhere I used to be and will be again.  One of, if not the key support in this has been film, with its capacity for time travel, to provide a window onto what we might describe as the before, when we didn't live in fear of others and the physical disaster they might accidentally inflict on us.

One of the places I keep returning to is New York.  Ever since my film diet evolved in my mid-teens, it's been impossible not to idolize it all out of proportion, fascinated by its size, its landmarks, its atmosphere.  Of course this is all through the filter of film and it's easy to romanticize a place when you've never actually been there, but at university, in halls, I'd sit in the doorway of my room and pretend it was the window ledge of a brownstone watching the world go by.

Why then create a chronology?  The idea's been swirling around me for a few months, as I wondered if it was possible to track the building and development of this metropolis through cinema, to see what the earliest narrative about the city is and compare period and historical films with the movies produced in the era they're depicting.  Would there be clustering around the larger events in the city's history?

Find the results below.  The spine of this list is a page at the Wikipedia which I've trusted to give me accurate information about when films are set, so there are bound to be errors and do let me know if you spot anything.  The plan is for this to be an organic chronology with films being added in and out if it's obvious that something should or shouldn't been in here.  It will continue to evolve, there are plenty of documentaries to add.

Some rules I've worked by.  The chronology only includes films intended for theatrical release.  There have been hundreds of television series and movies over the years about New York but the ultimate intention for the list is that someone might actually sit down and watch the films in a particular year or even the whole thing (if they do nothing else for the rest of their lives) and adding lots of television most of it probably unavailable would just complicate matters.

Other than that the list is inclusive for the most part.  If a film has any scenes set in New York, they're included, even if they weren't actually shot in the city itself.  It's about how the city has been depicted over the years  But it has to have scenes set in New York or be are about the city and its people.  Films which show and talk about the reality of 9/11 are in here, the many interchangeable conspiracy documentaries are not.

As to the date when a film is included, it's been a judgement call.  If a film covers a long time span, I've tried to place it in the moment when the city has the most impact on the story.  If it isn't a historical film, I've just assumed its set in the year of release based on the information available from the synopsis, watching the trailer and my own memory of seeing the film.  Again, there will be errors.  Do let me know etc etc.

Finally, the documentaries are marked in italics in case anyone decides to stick with reality, or at least reality through a documentarian's eye.  I haven't separated out the newer films set in an older period because it made the chronology even more difficult to read.  Plus its an incentive to click the link on an interesting sounding title and discover when the film was made in contrast with those around it.

If I've learnt anything from this exercise, it's that there are many films by well known directors with incredible casts which have become all but forgotten, especially from the 1960s and 1970s.  Remarkably a lot of them are available for rental on streaming services, so it's worth checking JustWatch if something takes your fancy.