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The Exterminating Angel: On the Wrongness and Righteousness of Abel Ferrara’s “Ms. 45″

By Yasmina Tawil

By Scott Tobias

The most famous shot in Woody Allen’s Manhattan was photographed in the early light near the Queensboro Bridge, with Allen and Diane Keaton sitting on a bench in Sutton Place Park at East 58th Street. The bench occupies the far-right corner of Gordon Willis’ widescreen, black-and-white frame, with the bridge itself, illuminated by two sets of necklace lights, stretching from end to end. Folding this romantic moment into an unabashed love letter to the city itself, the shot was such a perfect distillation of the film’s spirit that it was used for the poster.

Two years later, on the same bench with the same view of the Queensboro Bridge, Thana, the mute heroine of Abel Ferrara’s rape/revenge exploitation movie Ms. 45, pulls a gun on another in a series of lowlifes she’s murdered in the wake of two sexual assaults in a single afternoon.

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