Sunnyside, Queens is one of the few NYC neighborhoods, outside of Brooklyn, I would probably live in. That is, of course, if I wasn't financially strapped to Bushwick for FSM knows how long. Unlike most of the fauxhemian Brooklyn snobs, like myself, who make up a great portion of the outlander population flooding northern BK, I have no qualms with living outside of the cool zone. My girl's sister lives there, so I have a plenty of time to explore the nabe on my own. It has so many more amenities than Bushwick for one, the melting pot is so large that the local cuisine is so much more diversified than any hood in Hipsterville. Cheaper rents, safety, yada-yada...I could probably go on for quite some time. Truth be told, if I'm not staying in Bushwick or moving out to the Northwest in the next year, I'll probably end up in Sunnyside.
Sunnyside(1979) also happens to be the name, as well as the setting, of the 70's street gang movie I watched this morning, starring one Joey Stallone. Stallone plays Nicky, leader of the Nightcrawlers, one of three of the biggest gangs in Sunnyside. Unlike the other gangs, Nick's boys are more community organizers than career criminal. Sure they involve themselves in illegal activity, but nobody seems to get hurt but rival gangs. Nick happens to get fed up with the carny folk coming into his hood and ripping off the community so he plans on robbing them blind to teach a lesson. Unfortunately, the Nightcrawlers can't do it on their own, so they arrange a summit with the 2 other rival gangs to discuss a large group activity. Three rival gangs working together, what can possibly go wrong? Well, Nicky's bright idea ends up killing three, two being leadership of an opposing gang, all thanks to our friendly neighborhood, coked-out sociopath, Eddie Reaper. Now that Sunnyside is down a street gang, Reaper wants to make sure he can eliminate all the competition, especially the Nightcrawlers.
New York City is probably my favorite setting for genre films from 70's, bar none. There is just something about the grittiness of both the backdrop and the characters that you will find in no other city setting during this era of American film. I know it's been said time and time again, but NYC circa 70's is just a backdrop, it's actually a character. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten the same kick out of Sunnyside if it was filmed in LA or Detroit. There is just something about the Best City in the World that automatically adds points to any film I watch, an example being Joe's Apartment(pure garbage).
It was also nice to see that the movie was actually filmed on location in Sunnyside and not in Jersey City or Brooklyn(see Bronx Warrior). There is just something about seeing that Greenpoint Avenue sign that got me excited. Being a 32 year old movie, the street signs were the most recognizable things. If I ever watch it again, I will be sure that it's with someone who actually grew up in the area so I can get a better idea of the filming locations.
As I said before, I probably wouldn't have liked this film as much if NYC wasn't the setting. It wasn't a bad movie per se, but you can tell that this was a start out role for most of the actors. It was also a bit too serious for my taste. I like my street gang movies to be quite a bit less believable, Like the Warriors or Class of 1984. The trashier and more ridiculous the better.
For those of you who love 70's films set in NYC, or are actually born and raised in the Big Apple, this is something you might want to check out. For those of you who know nothing of the gritty character of 70's New York, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much.