Friday, February 15, 2008

A Necessary Evil

I have a love-hate relationship with the New York City subways. Despite being filthy, outdated and in poor repair, it generally gets you where you need to be for an extraordinarily cheap price. And its patrons -- there is certainly no shortage of creeps, goons and degenerates that lurk on the trains at all hours of the day (so long as you don't make eye contact, you're relatively safe). Word of wisdom: immediately upon exiting the train, make sure to douse yourself with a healthy dose of Purell. Personally, I'm a cab guy. I don't mind shelling out the few extra bucks for the comfort and convenience of the overpriced yellowcab, despite stubborn drivers and air-conditioning that never seems to work.

But I'm the minority -- millions of commuters each day rely on NYC Transit's most prized gem for getting around the city. Not looking forward to my impending ride on the dreadful 7 train this afternoon (I have an appointment in Flushing, Queens), I got to thinking about the subway's historic role in American cinema (yes, I'm a huge loser). I've listed below a couple of my favorite scenes that feature New York City Transit's finest in some very classic movies:

Ghost (1990) - Tell me you don't remember the late Vincent Schiavelli's haunting (pun intended) role as a post-suicidal specter caught in limbo, hopping between subway cars and his famous exclamation, "GET OFF MY TRAIN!!!" -- that scene still creeps me out.

Coming to America (1988) - Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) riding either the A,C, or G line, renounces his throne to Zamunda in order to win over McDowell's heiress Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) who rebuffs his offer. Akeem then gives a pair of jewel-encrusted earrings removed by Lisa to a little old lady who proudly states, "If you're really a prince, I'll marry you." How sweet.

Saturday Night Fever (1977) - After witnessing his good friend fall from the Verrazano Bridge, a troubled Tony Manero (John Travolta) rides the graffiti-laced R train (I think) throughout the early morning hours pondering his life and his love interest with Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney). The Bee Gee's classic "How Deep Is Your Love" is memorably playing in the background.

The Devil's Advocate (1997) - One of my favorite scenes of all time. John Milton (Al Pacino), accompanied by Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), is riding the subway headed to MSG for "fight night." In the midst of thwarting a knife attack by a group of Hispanic hoodlums, Milton (who is the devil), in perfect Spanish addresses the hoodlums:

"Maricela, the moment you left the
apartment she [hoodlum's wife] was upstairs with
Carlos. They're on the pipe right
now, my friend. They're in the
kitchen splitting a jumbo and then
he's going to fuck her in the ass,
right on your bed, and she's going
to like it...Do yourself a favor and put that
knife where it belongs."

The hoodlums, visibly terrified and awestruck by Milton's ominous, but truthful prediction, hop off the train at the 14th Street station. Classic, just classic.

Honorable mention: Crocodile Dundee (1986)

On that note, I wonder how much a cab would cost to Queens this time of day...

UPDATE: I survived the train ride back from Queens, but had some guy's backpack brush against my face and I caught an elbow to the back at some point. At least I wasn't exposed to any violent coughing fits, which is a normal occurrence these days...

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