The Deuce: 6 '70s-era movies that inspired HBO's new drama
When The Deuce co-creator George Pelecanos decided he wanted to explore the seedy corners of Times Square circa 1971 for his new HBO drama, he looked to the films he grew up enjoying for inspiration. These were the hardboiled crime dramas filmed on location in New York City, and despite making his new show in the year 2016, he wanted to recreate their authenticity of place.
“The intention was always that when someone looked at our show that it would look like one of those films that was shot in 1971 and had been put in a vault somewhere and just got rediscovered,” Pelecanos tells EW.
Before The Deuce premieres on Sept. 10, here are the six films that inspired it.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.
When it comes to Times Square in the early ’70s, Taxi Driver is the movie. Martin Scorsese’s insomnia-racked nightmare of urban decay captured the filth of Midtown better than no other film of the era. Watching The Deuce, it’s easy to imagine Travis Bickle driving past, inwardly enraged about the show’s characters.
The French Connection (1971)
The first R-rated film to ever win Best Picture is a cop thriller with New York baked into its DNA — and not just Manhattan. The movie’s iconic car chase rips through the Brooklyn, near the home of The Deuce‘s Vincent (James Franco).
Black Caesar (1973)
The blaxploitation of James Cagney’s Little Caesar sets mafia action in the heart of Harlem, with Fred Williamson as Tommy Gibbons rising through the ranks and taking out his enemies along the way.
Across 110th Street (1972)
When $300,000 gets stolen from the mob, everyone in Harlem goes looking for it, including two oil-and-water cops played by Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn. Also, it has a killer theme song.
The Seven-Ups (1973)
This spiritual cousin to The French Connection (same producer and screenwriter) also features Roy Scheider as a cop willing to bend the rules to get his guy and an incredible car chase.
Mean Streets (1973)
Scorsese, in his first foray into the world of crime, sets a lot of the action in a mob-connected bar, which should be familiar with anyone checking out the first episode of The Deuce.