Summer Of Sam

The mid 1970s' were a confusing times for New York City. The New York Yankees became a championship baseball team after a long slumber, President Gerald Ford had told Mayor Abe Beame to drop dead.

But daily life was difficult. The city was broke and tax revenues were shrinking. Middle class families were leaving, arson was destroying neighborhoods in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Drugs, crime and diminishing city services only made living in the city worse.

In the summer of 1977 a citywide electric blackout gave ample opportunity for thousands to loot neighborhood stores for two days. Many shopping areas did not recover for another 20 years.

It seems from the ashes a new horror emerged. Suddenly a string of unexplained murders occurred. At first police labeled the unknown murderer The .44 caliber Killer. Then Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin received a letter from someone claiming responsibility for the killings. He called himself the Son of Sam.

After his capture, David Berkowitz plead guilty for the six murders and the attempted murder of others.

Spike Lee's Summer of Sam attempts depict what the city was like during the fateful summer of 1977.


Please answer the following questions in your journals;

  1. Do you agree with Jimmy Breslin when he says we all Jove and hate the city equally?

  2. Why couldn't Vinny's friends and the neighborhood accept Richie?

  3. Do you know someone or have a friend going through changes like Richie? How is that person being accepted?

  4. Is the movie Summer of Sam a film about the Son of Sam killings or people's lives during the murders? Explain.

  5. We have seen a fair number of movies in class by acclaimed directors; Sidney Lamet, Martin Scorcese, etc. What do you think about Spike Lee? How is his style different than others?

  6. What did you think of the film?

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Internet Move Database (

Review of Summer of Sam movie (

Details about the Son of Sam case from court TV (

BBC biography of David Berkowitz (

David Berkowitz's personal web page (

How to write a movie review (



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