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Trivia / Escape from New York

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: According to the DVD commentary, a large number of actors in the film got in on this:
    • Snake Plissken's eyepatch was suggested by Kurt Russell. Also, it's possible he channeled Clint Eastwood somewhat in his performance because he was acting opposite Lee Van Cleef.
    • The Duke's eye twitching was suggested by Isaac Hayes, which was done whenever Snake was in the character's presence.
    • According to Carpenter, Donald Pleasence created his own internal backstory for the President, suggesting that the character was the result of a world where Margaret Thatcher had become a world leader and the U.S. reverted back to being a colony. The humiliating blonde wig the President wears during his torture was also an element suggested by Pleasence.
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  • All-Star Cast: In addition to being a Star-Making Role for Kurt Russell, the movie features six of the most famous and recognizable character actors of all time: Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, and Isaac Hayes.
  • Billing Displacement: Season Hubley (the "girl in Chock Full O'Nuts"} is credited sixth in the end titles, above Harry Dean Stanton (Brain) and Adrienne Barbeau (Maggie), who both have more important roles in the film. In comparison, Hubley's character only appears in a single scene.
  • California Doubling: Filmed in East St. Louis and St. Louis to keep the budget low. Entire areas were in such a state of neglect — urban fires had severely damaged them only a few years earlier — to the point where sets didn't even have to be built. Four years later, the scene of the Batter Up! Blood Sport (see above) was renovated into a hoity-toity shopping area — visual Mood Dissonance.
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  • Colbert Bump: The amount of people who discovered this movie due to being Referenced by... the Metal Gear franchise probably rivals the amount who saw it in theatres.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • Austria and Germany: The Rattlesnake
    • France: New York 1997
    • Italy: 1997: Flee New York
  • Deleted Scene: Several scenes were planned but ultimately cut from release:
    • The film was intended to open with a bank robbery detailing how Snake got captured. The sequence was cut after test screenings, as it was judged that it ran too long and was better explained by the sequence where Hauk details Snake's life of crime later in the film.
    • In the finished film, Snake's trip down through the World Trade Center isn't seen. There was originally planned to be a sequence where Snake would encounter a group of Native American prisoners living on the ground floor of the building who were roasting an animal. When he eavesdrops on them, one of the tribe members sneaks up behind and tries to strangle him, forcing him to flee. The sequence also would have set up why they sabotaged the glider later on in the film.
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    • The car chase around the city just before the 69th Street Bridge sequence was intended to be longer, with Snake causing several of the cars driven by The Duke's entourage to smash into each other. This explains why Duke is the only one to follow them over the bridge at the end of the film.
    • The final shot of the film was supposed to have Snake lighting up the cassette with the secret to nuclear fusion with his cigarette, holding the burning pile of tape in his hands for a moment before dropping it. This was changed in the final product to have Snake tearing out the tape as he walks off.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In some of the shots during the fight scene, Snake's expressions of terror are real. Ox Baker, having never done a film before, got a little too into his role, and poor Kurt Russell really did end up fearing for his life.
  • Fake American: Brit Donald Pleasence plays the President of the USA.
  • Inspiration for the Work: John Carpenter originally wrote the screenplay in 1976, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Carpenter said, "The whole feeling of the nation was one of real cynicism about the President. I wrote the screenplay and no studio wanted to make it "because, according to Carpenter, "it was too dark, too violent, too scary, and too weird." He had been inspired by Death Wish 1974, which was very popular at the time. He did not agree with the film's philosophy but liked how it conveyed "the sense of New York as a kind of jungle, and I wanted to make a science fiction film along these lines".
  • Playing Against Type: Before Escape from New York and The Thing (1982), Kurt Russell was best known for doing Disney comedies and other lightweight fare. The studio was surprised when Carpenter picked him, instead of someone like Charles Bronson or Tommy Lee Jones.
  • Real-Life Relative:
  • Star-Making Role: This film put Kurt Russell on the map as an action star.
  • Technology Marches On: A monitor displays a 3D wireframe model of NYC as Snake lands his glider in the city. The filmmakers wanted to use an actual computer model, but since technology wasn't there yet at the budget they had, they compromised by building a physical miniature New York, outlining it with reflective tape, and filming the result. This was the budget option.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The idea of putting a wig on at one point in the film was improvised by Donald Pleasence on the set.
    • Maggie's death scene (where she Dies Wide Open) was something added just before release, after the film had already been completed and screened for the studio. Test screenings indicated that Maggie's fate was left ambiguous (it wasn't clear if the Duke hit her during her Last Stand or if she jumped out of the way), so Carpenter shot extra footage by filming Barbeau lying on the ground in a death pose in the driveway in front of the house they owned.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: An extrapolation of The Big Rotten Apple into a dystopian 1997 where Manhattan Island has been evacuated of its law-abiding residents and turned into a maximum-security prison.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The studio was not initially keen to hire Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken due to his past work as a Disney kid and tried to counter-pitch director John Carpenter on either Tommy Lee Jones or Charles Bronson (an idea Carpenter shot down on the grounds that Bronson was too old). Other candidates for the role of Snake included Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Kris Kristofferson; Nolte and Bridges declined because they just weren't interested and the latter was declined by the studio due to the failure of Heaven's Gate. But Carpenter fought for Russell and he eventually won.
    • The role of Brain was written with Warren Oates in mind, but he was seriously ill at the time, so he suggested Harry Dean Stanton for the role.
    • John Carpenter had originally considered a scene where Hauk reveals that the explosive charges in Snake's neck were a hoax intended to coerce Snake into rescuing the President, but decided not to use it. Carpenter did, however, use this plot device in the sequel Escape from L.A..
  • The Wiki Rule: The Snake Plissken Wiki.


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