Summer of Sam

Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Summer of Sam (Touchstone Movie)

“Summer of Sam” is a gripping crime drama film released in 1999, directed by Spike Lee. The movie is set in the summer of 1977 in New York City and is loosely based on the real-life Son of Sam killings, a series of infamous murders committed by David Berkowitz.

The film follows a group of friends living in a tight-knit Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx during the sweltering heatwave of 1977. As the city is gripped with fear and paranoia over the serial killer on the loose, tensions rise within the community, and the characters’ lives are profoundly affected.

Vinny (John Leguizamo) is a hot-headed hairdresser who cheats on his wife Dionna (Mira Sorvino) and struggles with his own identity and masculinity. Richie (Adrien Brody) is Vinny’s childhood friend, who embraces the punk rock scene and distances himself from his Italian heritage. Meanwhile, John (Ben Gazzara) and Ruby (Jennifer Esposito) are an older couple in the neighborhood, struggling with their marriage and the fear of the unknown killer.

As the Son of Sam killings intensify, the neighborhood becomes consumed with fear and paranoia. The film explores the psychological impact of the crimes on the characters, as well as the way media sensationalism and public hysteria affect their actions and relationships.

“Summer of Sam” is a character-driven film that delves into themes of identity, conformity, and the destructive effects of fear on a community. Spike Lee’s direction is powerful, presenting a vivid portrayal of the atmosphere and cultural landscape of New York City during that tumultuous summer.

The film boasts an ensemble cast of talented actors who deliver raw and emotionally charged performances. John Leguizamo’s portrayal of Vinny is particularly notable, showcasing a character struggling with his own demons while facing the collective hysteria of the neighborhood.

“Summer of Sam” is more than just a crime drama; it also serves as a commentary on the social and cultural tensions of the era. It examines how fear and uncertainty can bring out both the best and worst in people and how a sense of community can be both comforting and suffocating.

The film’s exploration of human behavior and the impact of a notorious crime spree on a close-knit community make “Summer of Sam” a thought-provoking and harrowing touchstone in crime drama cinema. It provides a chilling reminder of the lasting effects of violence and fear on the human psyche and the need for empathy and understanding during times of crisis.

Additional Details


  • John Leguizamo: Vinny
  • Adrien Brody: Ritchie
  • Mira Sorvino: Dionna
  • Jennifer Esposito: Ruby
  • Michael Rispoli: Joey T
  • Saverio Guerra: Woodstock
  • Brian Tarantina: Bobby Del Fiore
  • Al Palagonia: Anthony
  • Ken Garito: Brian
  • Bebe Neuwirth: Gloria
  • Patti LuPone: Helen
  • Mike Starr: Eddie
  • Anthony LaPaglia: Detective Lou Petrocelli
  • Roger Guenveur Smith: Detective Curt Atwater
  • Ben Gazzara: Luigi
  • Joe Lisi: Tony Olives
  • James Reno: Crony
  • Arthur Nascarella: Mario
  • John Savage: Simon
  • Jimmy Breslin: himself
  • Michael Badalucco: Son of Sam
  • Spike Lee: John Jeffries
  • Lucia Grillo: Chiara
  • Michael Imperioli: Midnite
  • John Turturro: Voice of Harvey the Dog
  • Kim Director: Dee
  • Michael Sorvino: Bowler at Diner


  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Producers: Jon Kilik and Spike Lee
  • Writers: Victor Colicchio, Miichael Imperioli and Spike Lee

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other site isDMR.