Escape From New York >
John Carpenter on Escape From New York
"I first wrote the screenplay in the mid-70's, during the time of Watergate, the
whole feeling in the country was one of real cynicism about our president... No
studio wanted to make it. They all said: We can't have this kind of dark view."
- John Carpenter, High Adventure In The Future, Starlog Issue 41, Dec, 1980
"I had just made Dark Star, but no one wanted to hire me as a director. So I
thought: Well, then, I'm going to write screenplays and work my way in. I
scripted Escape, only to discover no studio was interested because they felt a:
it was to strange b: it was too violent or c: we're not thrilled with the idea of
NYC as a prison."
- John Carpenter, On The Set For Escape From New York, Starlog, Issue 45,
"Actually, I wrote Escape From New York way back in 1974. I believe I was
inspired by the movie Death Wish (about a vigilante killer), that was very
popular at the time, I didn't agree with the philosophy of it, taking the law
into one's own hands, but the film came across with the sense of New York as a
jungle, and I wanted to make a sci-fi film along those lines."
- John Carpenter, On The Set For Escape From New York, Starlog, Issue 45,
"I had been in New York,
which had a reputation for being a great city, but I saw the other side of it.
It was a little dark and grim. I'd heard all the show biz clichés about the
place: the white lights of Broadway, the "city of cities." In actuality, parts
of the city were pretty bad. I decided to sort of do a slightly humorous,
slightly violent film about New York as a prison in the future. So, I started
- John Carpenter, John Carpenter And His Escape From New York, Cinema
Odyssey, Vol 1, Issue 1, 1981
"It's both our fears and what we would like to happen."
- John Carpenter, Director's Special Edition VHS &
Kurt Russell on Escape From New York
think Escape From New York is a great film. It's ridiculous in a way and
it's horrible in a way, but overall, it's wonderful. There are a lot of laughs,
but the underlying theme is realistic. And the country's crime rate IS rising -
if you project it to 1990, we might not be that far out of line."
- Kurt Russell, New Role
Gives Kurt Russell New Look, Newport Daily Press, Jun 14, 1981
"I think people are reacting to the movie differently in different parts of the
country. City audiences seem to get the laughs. Midwestern audiences and
southern audiences see it more as a science-fiction drama. I think they all get
caught up in it, though. It looks Real."
- Kurt Russell, Escape From New York,
Future Life, Issue 30, Nov, 1981
Debra Hill on Escape From
"I don't know what specific genre it
belongs in. It's a musical. It's a comic book. It has tenderness, adventure,
action, suspense. I find myself compelled to watch it. At the end, I just
feel good. It's a very special film because it's about something that's in short
supply - loyalty. John pointed that out - Kurt is loyal to the people he cares
about: Season, Adrienne, Harry Dean, Ernest. There's even loyalty to the
President; Kurt actually begins to like Donald Pleasence. Even Lee Van Cleef, in
his way, is loyal to Kurt."
- Debra Hill, Escape From
New York, Prevue 45, Vol 2, Issue 5, May, 1981
"The film is a statement
about how I feel that we must protect peoples libertarian rights. People
themselves need to find the goodness in them, and I think it makes a political
- Debra Hill, Return To Escape
From New York featurette, 2003
Adrienne Barbeau on Maggie
"I don't think my character is nasty, she just keeps blowing people away! I
guess you can say I'm sort of a 1997 gun-moll."
- Adrienne Barbeau, On The Set For Escape From New York, Starlog, Issue 45,
Isaac Hayes on The Duke
"I know I had to be cool; still, I wanted
audience empathy for the convicts., who were thrown into barbaric
situation - we wanted our freedom! We wanted OUT!"
- Isaac Hayes, Escape From New York, Prevue 45, Vol 2, Issue 5, May,
crashing Air Force One): Tell this to the workers when they ask where their
leader went. We, the soldiers of the National Liberation Front of America, in
the name of the workers and all oppressed of this imperialist country, have
struck a fatal blow to the racist police state. What better revolutionary
example than to let their president perish, in the inhuman dungeon of his own
President: God save me, and watch over you all.
Romero: You touch me... he dies. If you're
not in the air in thirty seconds... he dies. You come back in... he dies.
Bob Hauk: I'm ready to kick your ass out off the world, war hero...
Plissken: Why are we talking?
Bob Hauk: I have a deal for you. You'll receive full pardon for every criminal
action you have committed to the United States. It was an accident. About an
hour ago a small jet went inside New York City. The President was onboard.
Plissken: The President of
Hauk: That's not funny, Plissken.
Hauk: You go in. Find the President, bring him out in twenty-four hours and
you're a free man.
Plissken: Twenty-four hours, huh.
Hauk: I'm making you an offer.
Hauk: Straight, just like I said.
Plissken: I'll think about it.
Hauk: No time. Give me an answer.
Plissken: Get a new
Hauk: We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive.
Plissken: I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president.
Hauk: Is that your answer?
Plissken: I'm thinking about it.
Hauk: Think hard.
Plissken: Why me?
Hauk: You flew the gullfire over Leningrad. You know how to get in quiet. You're
all I got.
Plissken: I guess I go in, one way or the other. Doesn't mean shit to me. Give me
Hauk: When you come out.
Hauk: I told you I wasn't a fool, Plissken.
Plissken: Call me Snake.
In twenty-two hours, the Hartford Summit
Meeting will be over. China and the Soviet Union will go back home. Now, the
President was on his way to the summit when his plane went down. He has a
briefcase attached to his wrist. The tape recording inside has to reach Hartford
in In twenty-two hours.
Plissken: What's on it?
Hauk: You know anything about nuclear
Hauk: It's the survival of the human race, Plissken. Something you don't
give a shit about.
Plissken: What if I'm a little late?
No more Hartford Summit. And no more Snake Plissken.
Plissken: When I get back, I'm going to
The Gullfire's waiting.
Hauk: Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Plissken (in the glider): Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
Hauk: Plissken? Plissken, what are you doing?
Plissken (in the glider): Playing with myself, I'm going in.
Plissken: I don't know who you assholes were looking at, but it's not the
President. All right, get your machine ready, I'm coming out.
Hauk: Eighteen hours, Plissken.
Plissken: Listen to me Hauk. The President is dead, you got that? Somebody's had
him for dinner.
Hauk: Plissken, if you get back to that glider I shoot you down. You climb out
I'll burn you off the wall. You understand that, Plissken?
Plissken: A little human compassion...
Girl in Chock Full O'Nuts: You're a cop?
Plissken: I'm an asshole...
Plissken: I want to meet this Duke?
Cabbie: You can't meet the Duke. Are you crazy? Nobody gets to meet the Duke.
You meet him once and then you're dead.
Maggie: Heard you were dead.
(To Maggie): You wanna see him sprayed all over that map, baby? Now where's the
Brain: Working for the man now, huh?
Plissken: You always were smart, Harold.
Brain: Just one thing, right now... don't call me Harold.
Plissken: What's wrong with Broadway?
The Duke: I heard you were dead.
The Duke: What did I teach you?
The President: Y-You are the... Duke of New...
New York. You're A-Number One.
The Duke: I can't hear you!
The President: Y-You... You are the Duke of New
York! You're A-Number One!
The Duke: They sent in their best man, and when we roam out the 69th Street
Bridge tomorrow, on our way to freedom, we're going to have their best man
leading the way from the neck up!
the hood of my car!
They're savages, Mr.
Brain: Plissken, swear to God, I thought you
Plissken: Yeah, you and everybody else!
The President: I, I want to thank you. Anything you want, you just name it.
Plissken: Just a moment of your time.
The President: Uh, yes.
Plissken: We did get you out. Lot of people died in the progress. I just want
wondered what you felt about it?
The President (Uninterested): Well, I... (Clears his throat) I want to thank
them. This nation appreciates their sacrifices. Look, I'm on the air in about
two and a half minutes.
Hauk: You gonna kill me now, Snake?
Plissken: I'm too tired... maybe later.
Hauk: I've got another deal for you. I want you to think it over while you're
resting. I want to give you a job. We'd make one hell of a team, Snake.
Plissken: The name's Plissken.
The President: Good evening. Although I shall not be present at this historic
summit meeting, I present this in the hope that our great nations may learn to
live in peace...