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Last Exit to Brooklyn

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jerry Orbach
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Summit Inc/Lionsgate
  • DVD Release Date: October 10, 2011
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0059GVBHG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,743 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hailed as an uncompromising look at life on the dark side, Last Exit to Brooklyn follows a gang of young hoodlums, a down and out call girl, an alcoholic father, and a low level union official as they attempt to survive in the harsh underbelly of lower class 1950s Brooklyn. Adapted from the cult classic best-selling novel by Hubert Selby Jr., the New York Times calls Last Exit "harrowing" yet "savagely beautiful."


The urban purgatory of Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel Last Exit to Brooklyn is diligently put on screen in this harrowing 1989 adaptation. This particular 1950s hell is inhabited by a group of people who are tragically divorced from tenderness or connection: a bleached prostitute named Tralala (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a closeted union organizer (Stephen Lang), a transvestite (Alexis Arquette), and a gallery of thugs, drug addicts, goons, and soldiers on leave. Director Uli Edel's approach is straightforward and blunt: these miserable characters go about their paces, caught in downward spirals, with little hope of breaking their patterns. Without a doubt, some of this captures Selby's fist-in-teeth toughness, and there's also an unexpectedly counterintuitive score by Mark Knopfler, high in mood and sadness. But the film doesn't rise to the challenge of Selby's syncopated prose style, and the very talented actors are encouraged to hit some broad notes in attacking the fuhgetaboutit-I'm-from-Brooklyn mode of behavior. Even with that, it's hard to fault Leigh's fearlessness in taking on her brittle, self-destructive character, or deny the haunted ferocity of future Avatar villain Stephen Lang. Everything feels a little stilted here, which might not be a terrible thing, because a rawer, closer take on Selby's original would be unbearable to watch. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

This is one of the best film adaptations of a book I've ever witnessed.
It shows a slice of life that is hard to watch or understand unless the viewer has practical experience in the raw world or posseses a very open mind.
Kenneth A. Nelson
There's no understating Jennifer Jason Leigh's gritty and powerful performance.
Rocco Dormarunno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on April 22, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
It's the 1950s. Under President Eisenhower's administration, everyone has a house in the suburbs, a decent job, a gas-guzzling car, and a basic "Leave It to Beaver" lifestyle.
Not so, said Hubert Selby, in his novel, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN. For a good deal of the working class, times were still tough. Preyed upon by crime, toyed with by factory owners and unions, and, ultimately, shackled by their own ignorance, the working class had their promise of a white picket fence and primrose garden vacated. In Brooklyn, particularly, things were acutely tough. Manufacturing jobs were on a rapid decline, as companies moved out of town or out of state (which was why those companies remaining in Brooklyn were able to mess with their employees: take it or leave it, was their attitude). At the same time, an influx of immigrants seeking jobs made the hunt for work even more competitive--another bonus for the remaining factory owners. Slums rapidly worsened, so much so that Dodger owner Walter Alston decided his team's future was in jeopardy. L.A. looked like a much safer place for a stadium.
But neither Selby nor director Uli Edel portrayed this working class as merely innocent victims. Neither the book nor the film is a didactic rant about class warfare. The poor had their own vices of greed, brutality, and dissipation. Just about every other scene has someone going through someone else's wallets, union funds or pockets. If they aren't doing that, they're drinking, fighting, or whoring. It's a pretty dismal world. The natural response to this film might be: "Wait a minute. Not everyone working class Johnny-Punchclock guy was a criminal. Most people worked hard and honestly." Of course, this is true but it's not the film's concern.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This movie is based on Herbert Selby's cult novel from the early 1960s. The novel traces the lives of some rough urban characters (prostitutes, street hoodlums, transvestites, striking dock workers) in 1950s Brooklyn. Think of this as "On the Waterfront" without the sugar coating. A friend of mine hates the movie because he feels it is nightmarish and lacks a moral center. I like the movie for just this reason, as deep down I think life is that way. The movie is a harsh and uncompromising look at people whose dreams don't work out; in fact, the dreams often explode in the characters' faces. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stephen Lang, Stephen Baldwin, Jerry Orbach and Alexis Arquette are fantastic. Don't watch this with kids or with people with delicate sensibilities---it's violent, sexually graphic, and full of verbal abuse and foul language.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Last Exit to Brooklyn tells a story the way it needs to be told...realistically. This film is not for everyone. If you can't accept the fact that some people do behave like this than this film is not for you. Everyone doesn't live in a fantasy land and Last Exit to Brooklyn shows this. People brought up in conditions like these or who are familiar with people such as this can vouch that people are truly like this in some places. It may not be an excuse for how others act but it is real and this film proves that. This is a powerful, moving film not to be looked upon if you're easily offended out of your own ignorance and live in a rose-colored world. If you have the ability to watch a movie, understand it and be taken in with what the film represents ( without feeling threatened ) then this movie is a keeper. If you can't see that Last Exit to Brooklyn deplicts reality for people other than the super fortunate, rent Sweet Home Alabama because this movie is not for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kevin yee on October 8, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Over the summer I purchased and read Hubert Selby Jr.'s "Last Exit to Brooklyn". It was the first book I had read for pleasure since high school. I also only bought it because the film Requiem for a Dream was astonishing, and because it wasnt at that particular bookstore. Anywho, I read LETB in about a week, which is super fast for me, and was intrigued enough to go out and watch the film.

I had never heard of Uli Edel but was curious to see how well the book was illustrated through film. From the opening shot of the three military men walking through the dark streets to the Greeks to the factory to the strike office, things seemed to have been pulled straight from the book. If you have read the book you know how it can be sometimes quite difficult to read Selby's writing style, considering there are pages upon pages of text in all caps and run-on sentences up the wazoo, so a visual illustration really did a good job of bringing some confusing parts of the book to life.

Jennifer Jason Leigh gave a good performance as the infamous Tralala, Jerry Orbach was always refreshing to watch, but I think I liked the portrayal of Harry Black the best (I think it was Stephen Lang). As in the book, his "chapter", along with Tralala's, were the longest, and the two characters were also the most intertwined in the other stories, so they also got a majority of the screen time in the film. Oh, and Burt Young was well cast, too. He seems to thrive on the grumpy-caring-jerk-semi womanizer type character quite well.

I know others who have read the book or seen the movie have been put off by its unflattering portrait of the Brooklyn working class 60 years ago.
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