Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #15

Shaft (dir. Gordon Parks, 1971)

08-08 Shaft

Harlem during its darkest and most drug-infested war years (two decades before its brilliant “second renaissance” of the 1990’s) is shown very effectively in Parks’ famous “Blaxploitation” detective flick, starring Richard Roundtree. But many forget that much of the film is also set in Greenwich Village, with its climax beginning at the historic Caffé Reggio. The film’s exceptional signature style adds spice to a tight but standard police procedural and its legendary score by Isaac Hayes (who became the first black artist to win an Oscar in a non-acting category) matches its rhythm perfectly to the beat and pulse of the city.

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