Great Movies Set in Greenwich Village

Many great films have been set in New York City. There is also a category of movie that is set in one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods, Greenwich Village. This area, with its historic landmarks like New York University and Washington Square Park, is instantly recognizable to New Yorkers or anyone who has spent time in the city. Let’s look at a few great movies that have been set in Greenwich Village.

Cover of "Desperately Seeking Susan"
Cover of Desperately Seeking Susan
Inside Llewyn Davis

This 2013 film, directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, explores the Greenwich Village folk music scene of the early 1960s. The story follows a young folk singer named Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac. Like the Coen brothers’ earlier film O Brother Where Art Thou, music is one of the key elements of Inside Llewyn Davis. Yet the New York City of 1961 is also crucial, and the movie does an excellent job of recreating this distinctive time and place. Inside Llewyn Davis is a challenging and unconventional film that requires the audience to pay close attention.

Desperately Seeking Susan

This 1985 film, directed by Susan Seidelman, is a cult classic that has many memorable scenes set in Greenwich Village and other downtown New York neighborhoods. This is a zany comedy about a straitlaced businessman named Dez (Aidan Quinn) who gets involved with a wild and free spirited woman named Susan, played by Madonna. Among other things, Desperately Seeking Susan portrays a Greenwich Village that was gritty and dangerous in the 1980s prior to the city’s gentrification.

Cover of "Rear Window (Universal Legacy S...
Cover of Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series)

Kids is a 1995 film that features many scenes shot in Washington Square Park. Directed by Larry Clark, this is an edgy and controversial movie portraying the violent lives of street kids who spend most of the day skateboarding, taking drugs and engaging in promiscuous sex. While many movies set in New York City glamorize the location, Kids goes in the opposite direction and shows the dark underside of the streets. The movie has a very naturalistic style that makes it seem like a documentary.

Rear Window

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films, Rear Windowtakes place entirely within an apartment building in Greenwich Village. Starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly, this 1954 film is a compelling mystery about a man confined to his apartment after suffering an injury. He becomes obsessed with watching his neighbors from his window. He suspects a crime has been committed, but he has difficulty convincing anyone else. Rear Window is considered by many movie critics to be Hitchcock’s greatest film.