If you are at all obsessed with 1960s and 70s New York on film, you'll find a kinship with Jonathan Hertzberg, who has painstakingly and exhaustively spliced together movie clips from that gritty, grimy era to give us "Dirty Old New York, aka Fun City," a collection of three videos that immerse you in that time and place.
Start with Part One:
Dirty Old New York aka Fun City, Part I from Jonathan Hertzberg on Vimeo.
I asked Jonathan about the project and here's what he said:
"I'm a lifelong cinephile, and New York holds particular fascination for me because of how much I love the city and because it's constantly in flux. Over time, films shot on location in New York take on a secondary, documentary-like function, preserving images of places that no longer exist, or which exist in radically different form.
I've long been a voracious consumer of late '60s and '70s American cinema, in large part because of the 'anything goes' ethos that was prevalent in the industry at the time.
With the formation of the organization that would become the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting--groundwork laid by Mayors Lindsay and Beame--it became much easier for studios and filmmakers to use the city's vast and varied landscape. The fact that the city was in the midst of its own economic downturn made for a welcome and colorful, if often dangerously colorful, environment for Hollywood and independent film productions. And, obviously, that's a big part of how we got so many gutsy, street-level New York-set films in that period. So I wanted to showcase these films--both the famous and the unjustly obscure--in a visual and aural way that would be entertaining while also serving some historical purpose."
Fun City - '69 from Jonathan Hertzberg on Vimeo.
After you've watched Dirty Old New York, do not miss this 6-minute, Super-8 reel shot by Jonathan's late father in 1969. The man was not shy with his camera and he loved faces--he gets right into them. At the unusual sight of a movie camera on the street, people look back with shock, anger, and pleasure. From Times Square to Harlem and the Upper East Side, this one is a pure delight.