The common denominator of both lists is a broad interpretation of what a Long Island movie is. The Epinions list mentions exceptional movies starring Long Islanders, even in bit parts; for Kenneth Branaugh’s “Hamlet”, which features Billy Crystal as a gravedigger. I haven’t seen that one, but I question the merit of Billy Crystal’s appearance in any film, never mind an adaptation of Shakespeare.
I’ve always ruminated on whether “Wall Street” or “The Godfather”, excellent and iconic films, should be considered Long Island movies. Only small parts of them are set or filmed on Long Island. As for “Jaws”, I’ve seen it many, many times and it was never clear to me that Amity is on or around Long Island or even in New York State (it was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard).
And then there are Ed Burns’ “The Brother’s McMullen” and Steve Buscemi’s “Trees Lounge”, which are decent and in many ways are quintessential Long Island movies, but I don’t find either very memorable.
I find it odd that neither list includes any film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”.
After considering these lists, here are my criteria for forming my own:
- I define Long Island as including what most Long Islanders consider it to include: Nassau and Suffolk counties and their offshore islands, and excluding Brooklyn and Queens.
- The film must be set substantially and filmed at least partially on Long Island, and if set there identified as such. I don’t consider a short scene demonstrating that a character has a summer home on the beach somewhere to be substantial, so exit “Wall Street”.
- I have to have seen it.
- I have to like it. I’m willing to stretch my definition of “like” to mean I feel it conveys some sense of Long Island or its people.
So far, the only films that pass muster are:
I’d like to put a fifth one in there to at least make it a top 5, so if you think I missed something please leave a comment.