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Bright Lights, Big City (1988)

A disillusioned young writer living in New York City turns to drugs and drinking to block out the memories of his dead mother and estranged wife.


James Bridges


Jay McInerney (novel), Jay McInerney (screenplay)
4,558 ( 593)
2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael J. Fox ... Jamie
Kiefer Sutherland ... Tad
Phoebe Cates ... Amanda
Swoosie Kurtz ... Megan
Frances Sternhagen ... Clara
Tracy Pollan ... Vicky
John Houseman ... Mr. Vogel
Charlie Schlatter ... Michael
David Warrilow David Warrilow ... Rittenhouse
Dianne Wiest ... Mother
Alec Mapa ... Yasu Wade
William Hickey ... Ferret Man
Gina Belafonte Gina Belafonte ... Kathy
Sam Robards ... Rich Vanier
Bernard Zette Bernard Zette ... Stevie (as Zette)


Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring writer and yuppie living in New York City who seeks oblivion in cocaine and the glittery nightclub scene as his life falls apart (his wife leaves him, his mother dies, etc.). With his hard-partying friend Tad Allagash (Kiefer Sutherland) tagging along with him during their nights out, Jamie finds it increasingly difficult to show up every day at his unfulfilling job as a fast checker for a literary Manhattan magazine. Written by Larry B.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's 6.00am. Do you know where you are? See more »




16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French

Release Date:

30 June 1988 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Schitterlichten, Grote Stad See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,126,791, 1 April 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


Color (DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Star Billing: Michael J. Fox (first), Kiefer Sutherland (second), Phoebe Cates (third), Swoosie Kurtz (fourth), and Frances Sternhagen (fifth). See more »


When Jamie (Michael J. Fox) runs from his brother who's been waiting for him on Jamie's stoop, he enters the Christopher Street station of NYC's 1 train. But when the camera shows him on the subway platform he's actually at the 42nd Street/Times Square station. See more »


Jamie Conway: [voice over] You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning and, though the details are fuzzy, you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar.
See more »


Performed by Oscar Peterson
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products
A Division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
Produced by Norman Granz
Words & Music by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, P.G. Wodehouse
See more »

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User Reviews

Glitzy nights of excitement and sex, big apple style, hide a not so bright world of drug abuse
27 November 2013 | by videorama-759-859391See all my reviews

This is one of my favourite Michael J Fox movies. We really get to see him in a dramatic role, though I hadn't bothered with that turkey, Light Of Day. This refreshingly original film was something totally different totally for me, a hard hitting drama that plays well on screen, though it might of not had the impact, the novel intended. An R rating slapped on, as a few were back in the day, supposedly for drug use, like Fox's bleeding nostril when he does too much coke, didn't make much sense. We see two hot women kissing in a cubicle, when Jamie (Fox) walks in then quickly retreats, spouting a funny response of dialogue, in that great comic timing of his. Could this be another reason. Whatever it is, nothing should of stopped people under 18 from seeing this. Jamie Conway's life is a mess, which he refuses to acknowledge. The first anniversary of his mother's passing is coming up. His beautiful model girlfriend (Cates-really) a heartless b..ch has reappeared in his life, choosing a career over a sunken Jamie. His prim and demanding boss, an editor of a magazine, an old hag, is pushing him to finish an article, where he'd rather be doing drugs, or trying to write that aspiring never to published novel. Also little brother has just popped into town. As an anti drug movie, this one works well. In the face of mishap, loss, whatever, drugs are not the solution, and it doesn't help when you're swayed by slime bag friends. Fox does well, though he's not great. Though really, he's never been as good an actor as people have been led to believe. Shining performances comes from Cates and Sutherland. Robards was fun to watch too, and Wiest was great as always, as Fox's mother, seen in flashbacks, that we're a bit heavily laid on. BLBC is an engrossing, if intriguing drama about young 80's New Yorkers, and the drug and disco scene, and we can't forget the coma baby. The scene with Fox again confronting Cates who says to him in casual tone, "How are ya?" where Fox is just thunderstruck, and crashes back against a transvestite, is probably one of three memorable moments. But Fox fan should like it. Well made drama, that should be viewed time and time again, even for under 18's.

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