It is a throwback to the bad old days.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is screening 13 classic films that captured New York City’s subway system at the height of its grit, in a series dubbed Retro Metro. The curator said the series, which runs Sept. 26–Oct. 25, was an old idea that almost never left the station.
“It was one of those things that was always on the back burner,” said BAMcinematek programmer Nellie Killian. “We had this perverse idea that we would do it in August when everyone hates the subway the most. But we waited until September when things cooled down.”
But of course, the most important films in the series are the ones that feature Brooklyn lines and stops. So we have compiled a guide to the four movies that highlight Kings County transit — and the exact locations they highlight — so you don’t waste your money on flicks that only feature other, lesser boroughs.
This 1979 cult classic gives the borough’s people-movers the most play — even if many Brooklyn locations actually stand in for elsewhere in the city. Shots of trains pulling into Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue station bookend the film. Amid the action, the Broadway Junction, New Utrecht Avenue, and Hoyt–Schermerhorn stops all make appearances masquerading as stations in the Bronx and Manhattan.
The film features the system so heavily that it is almost a supporting character, Killian said.
“It’s everywhere — it’s this artery of the city that’s allowing people to travel through different neighborhoods,” she said.
Screening Sept. 26 at 3 pm, 5 pm, 7:30 pm, 9:45 pm.
The defunct RR train and the Fourth Avenue line have cameos in 1977’s “Saturday Night Fever,” when prancing protagonist Tony Manero goes to the city to visit his dance partner.
“That movie is so much about traversing the city,” Killian said. “His rides back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan are at the heart of the story.”
Screening Oct. 4 at 4:30 pm, 7 pm, 9:30 pm.
This 1971 thriller flits through the five boroughs at break-neck speed, but the famous chase scene was shot below the West End elevated tracks in Gravesend and Bensonhurst. In the end, Det. John Doyle gets his man on the stairs leading up to the 62nd Street station on the border of Bensonhurst and Borough Park. More than just a killer action sequence, the scene shows off classic sections of Brooklyn, Killian said.
“That chase scene is so iconic because it’s just perfectly constructed and so fun to watch, but also so many great exterior shots of the neighborhood,” she said.
Screening Oct. 5 at 2 pm, 4:30 pm, 7 pm, 9:30 pm.
For a movie with a title that name-drops the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, 1992 flick “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” is pretty slim on actual subway shots. But the opening scene takes place at the Park Place Station along the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and another shot goes retro with a bright red 2 train pulling into the Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn College station.
“Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” screening Sept. 30 at 8 pm.
Retro Metro at BAM Rose Cinemas [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org]. Sept. 26–Oct. 25 at various times. $14 per screening.