An iconic scene from Woody Allen's 1979 classic "Manhattan"

According to the @UrbanismAvenger, interviewed recently by The Atlantic Cities editor Sommer Mathis, “There are ALWAYS urbanist themes in movies, if you look. Cities themselves are often heroes, or at least key characters, in the story. Whether the city is New York or Asgard, cities in movies can inspire us to be better urbanists!”

We agree wholeheartedly, and have been thrilled by the response to our post a few weeks ago about films that demonstrate Placemaking principles. Folks have made a lot of great suggestions, and we’ve culled eight of our favorites below. Keep ’em coming!


Rear Window (1954; director, Alfred Hitchcock)
Cindy FrewenWuellner suggests several Hitchcock films, our favorite of which is this classic featuring Jimmy Stewart as a man with a unique view of the life of his neighborhood. Eyes on the street! (Or the courtyard, as the case may be).

A Thousand Clowns (1965; director, Fred Coe)
According to Rob Sadowsky, the key moment for Placemakers here is a scene featuring Jason Robards giving a tour of NYC by bicycle, “because it’s the best way to see the world.”

Manhattan (1979; director, Woody Allen)
Commenter Dbpankratz nominated Woody Allen’s classic, considered by many (including at least one person here at PPS HQ) to be one of the “greatest love letters to New York” ever made for the silver screen. The film beautifully illustrates the intimate link between place and identity.

Blade Runner (1982; director, Ridley Scott)
Adrian Riley likes the dystopian urbanism of Scott’s sci-fi classic, which contrasts “the world the underclass are forced to inhabit” with wealthy residents cloistered in gleaming towers. The city is “dirty, wet, crumbling and constantly being adapted, but also grittily exciting in a way few science fiction film environments are.”

Lisbon Story (1994; director, Wim Wenders)
Wenders’ film-about-a-filmmaker shows how intoxicating the power of Place can truly be. Tiago Oliveira loves it for its portrayal of “the soul of a City and the wonder of its People and Places.”

Before Sunrise & Before Sunset (1995 & 2004; director, Richard Linklater)
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy’s decade-long romance starts with a chance encounter on a train, and features the two lovebirds walking the streets of Prague and Paris. Both of these films, suggested by two commenters. Julieta and Todd, highlight the ability of human-scaled cities to create a feeling of comfort that promotes public affection.

Be Kind Rewind (2008; director, Michael Gondry)
Highlighted by Plantanbanda, this flick focuses on two video store clerks who accidentally erase every tape in the store. (Remember tapes?) In their quest to re-shoot the entire cinematic inventory, they enlist the help of the entire neighborhood.

More Great Movies for Placemakers was last modified: May 17th, 2012 by Project for Public Spaces