Category Archives: A Most Violent Year

More signs of ‘A Most Violent Year’: New movie tie-in column

Looking over the East River at Brooklyn and Queens, 1981, where much of the film’s action takes place.  (Photo courtesy GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I posted the trailer to the new film by JC Chandor called A Most Violent Year, set in New York City in 1981.

As support for the film (which releases in late December), they’ve asked me to do a few columns each Monday about New York City history for the film’s tie-in site about the year 1981.  The year is a turning point in the city’s struggle with crime, deteriorating infrastructure and urban decay.  It’s the year The Clash caused a riot in midtown, the year the New York Times first reported on a “rare cancer” killing gay men, the year Ed Koch ran both as a Democrat and a Republican.  Robbery and murder rates in the city would reach their highest peak.  But it would also be the year where things begin turning around in New York.

My first column is on a particular incident which occurred two minutes before midnight on December 31, 1980, and how that incident reflected upon the grim state of affairs in the city.  Check out the full story here.

 

1981 was indeed “A Most Violent Year” in New York City

In 1981, there were more reported robberies in New York City (over 120,000) than in any year in its history.  There were over 2,100 murders that year (slightly down from the previous year) including such infamous crimes as the mob-related Shamrock Bar murders in Queens. After years of steadily increasing crime rates, it seemed unlikely in 1981 that New York would ever reverse course.

This should make a very intriguing backdrop for the new film A Most Violent Year by J.C. Chandor, starring Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac.

We last saw Isaac in another New York flashback — Inside Llewyn Davis — which gave us a spectacular view of 1960s Greenwich Village.  And Chandor himself dabbled in some recent history with his debut film Margin Call, about the 2007 financial crash.

The film is set for an end-of-the-year release. So far the production design looks very promising:

 

And here’s a few images of New York City in 1981 for comparison:

Top pic courtesy New York Daily News/Getty Images. Middle picture courtesy Luper/Panoramio.  Meryl Streep courtesy Life Magazine!