My Favorite New York City-Based Films

21 Jul

Lord knows there are millions – New York City has always been A Darling of Hollywood’s.

You have your favorites.

Here, thanks to help by Wikipedia, are some of mine, in chronological order:

1933 King Kong

“In July 1932, Schoedsack and his crew filmed establishing shots in the harbor of New York City. Fighter planes taking off and in flight were filmed at a U.S. Naval airfield in Brooklyn. Views of New York City were filmed from the Empire State Building for backgrounds in the final scenes and architectural plans for the mooring mast were secured from the building’s owners for a mock-up to be constructed on the Hollywood soundstage.”

1949 On The Town

“…notable for its combination of studio and location filming, as a result of Gene Kelly’s insistence that some scenes be shot in New York City itself, including at the American Museum Of Natural History, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center.”

1953 Little Fugitive

“The film was filmed on location at Coney Island and Brooklyn. Using a concealed strap-on camera, Morris Engel managed to have thousands of beach-going New Yorkers as extras without their knowing it.”

1955 The Seven Year Itch

“The footage of Monroe’s dress billowing over a subway grate was shot twice: The first take was shot at Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street and the second on a sound stage. The sound stage footage is what made its way into the final film, as the original on-location footage’s sound had been rendered useless by the over excited crowd present during filming whistling over Monroe’s see-through panties. The exterior shooting location of Richard’s apartment was 164 East 61st Street in Manhattan.”

1961 Breakfast At Tiffany’s

“Most of the exteriors were filmed in New York City, except the fire escape scenes and the alley scene at the end in the rain where Holly puts Cat out of the cab and then Paul and Holly look for Cat. All of the interiors, except for portions of the scene inside Tiffany & Company, were filmed on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. It was rumored that the film’s on-location opening sequence, in which Holly gazes into a Tiffany’s display window, was extremely difficult for director Blake Edwards to shoot. Although it was simple in concept, crowd control, Hepburn’s dislike of pastries, and an accident that nearly resulted in the electrocution of a crew member are all said to have made capturing the scene a challenge.”

1961 West Side Story

“The film’s opening sequence was shot on the streets of New York City, mainly in the area where the Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts campus of Fordham University now stands.”

1962 The Manchurian Candidate

“…Sgt. Shaw meets Capt. Marco, after having jumped into a lake in Central Park, New York…”

1968 Coogan’s Bluff

“…Coogan’s Bluff is a site on Manhattan Island between Washington Heights and Harlem…”

1968 Rosemary’s Baby

“When Farrow was reluctant to film a scene that depicted a dazed and preoccupied Rosemary wandering into the middle of a Manhattan street into oncoming traffic, Polanski pointed to her pregnancy padding and reassured her, “no one’s going to hit a pregnant woman”. The scene was successfully shot with Farrow walking into real traffic and Polanski following, operating the hand-held camera since he was the only one willing to do it.”

1969 Midnight Cowboy

“Joe stayed at the Hotel Claridge which was located at the southeast corner of Broadway and West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan. His room overlooked the northern half of Times Square. The building has since been demolished.” and “Before Dustin Hoffman auditioned for this film, he knew that his all-American image could easily cost him the job. To prove he could do it, he asked the auditioning film executive to meet him on a street corner in Manhattan, and in the meantime, dressed himself in filthy rags. The executive arrived at the appointed corner and waited, barely noticing the beggar less than ten feet away who was accosting people for spare change. At last, the beggar walked up to him and revealed his true identity.”

1971 The French Connection

“This was the first film to show the World Trade Center: the completed North Tower and the partial completion of the South Tower are seen in the background of one scene.” and “The film is often cited as containing one of the greatest car chase sequences in movie history. The chase involves Popeye commandeering a civilian’s car and then frantically chasing an elevated train, on which a hitman is trying to escape. The scene was filmed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn roughly running under the BMT West End Line (currently, D trains) which runs on an elevated track above 86th Street and New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn.”

1972 The Godfather

“One of the movie’s most shocking moments involved the real severed head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion of the scene. Coppola later stated that the horse’s head was delivered to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed specifically for the movie. This scene was shot in Port Washington, New York. A side entrance to Bellevue Hospital was used for Michael’s confrontation with police Captain McCluskey. The hospital interiors, when Michael visits his father there, were filmed at the New York Eye And Ear Infirmary on 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York City. The scene in which Don Barzini is assassinated was filmed on the steps of the New York State Supreme Court building on Foley Square in Manhattan, New York City. The wedding scene (and the Corleone family compound) was shot at 110 Longfellow Avenue in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island.”

1973 Serpico

“The story was filmed in the streets of New York City. A total of 105 different locations in four of the five boroughs of the city were used. No filming took place in Staten Island. An apartment at 5-7 Minetta Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village was used as Serpico’s residence.”

1974 The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three

“The exterior NYC ‘Command Post Center’ street scenes shot above the subway train during the cash negotiation scenes, where throngs of police and spectators gathered awaiting the ransom money, were filmed at the subway exit corner of 28th and Park Avenue South in Manhattan. The New York MTA almost didn’t cooperate with the making of this movie as they feared a real hijacking could go down, but after further talks, they did work with the filmmakers. First, they required payment of hijack insurance followed by paying $250,000 for usage of the subway.”

1975 Dog Day Afternoon

“Although many scenes within the bank establish that it was quite hot during the robbery, some outdoor sequences were shot in weather so cold that actors had to put ice in their mouths to stop their breath from showing on camera. Exterior shots were filmed on location on Prospect Park West between 17th and 18th Street in Windsor Terrace of Brooklyn.”

1977 Annie Hall

“While Allen was driving around Brooklyn with his crew, looking for locations, “I saw this roller-coaster, and I saw the house under it. And I thought, we have to use this.”

1979 Manhattan

“The famous bridge shot was done at 5 am. The bridge had two sets of necklace lights on a timer controlled by the city. When the sun comes up, the bridge lights go off. Willis made arrangements with the city to leave the lights on and he would let them know when they got the shot. Afterwards, they could be turned off. As they started to shoot the scene, one string of bridge lights went out and Allen was forced to use that take.”

1984 Ghostbusters

“Hook and Ladder 8, 14 N. Moore St., Manhattan, New York City  – Used numerous times during the movie, this real life fully operational Fire Station (Hook & Ladder #8) was used as the headquarters of the Ghostbusters.”

1987 Moonstruck

“…Moonstruck house at 19 Cranberry Street in Brooklyn…”

1989 When Harry Met Sally

“The film is probably best known for a scene featuring the two title characters having lunch at Katz’s Deli in Manhattan.”

1997 Men In Black

“Much of the initial script drafts were set underground, with locations ranging from Kansas to Washington DC and Nevada. Sonnenfeld decided to change the location to New York City, because the director felt New Yorkers would be tolerant of aliens who behaved oddly while disguised.”

1999 The Thomas Crown Affair

“Filming took place throughout New York City, including Central Park. The corporate headquarters of Lucent Technologies stood in for Crown’s suite of offices. Due to it being nearly impossible to film interior scenes in the Metropolitan Museum Of Art (the producers’ request was “respectfully declined”), the production crew made their own museum on a soundstage. Artisans were hired to create a realistic look to the set. Another scene was filmed in an entirely different city landmark: the main research library of the New York Public Library.”

2007 Enchanted

“Shooting in New York became problematic as it was in a “constant state of new stores, scaffolding and renovation”. The first scene in New York, which features Giselle emerging from a manhole in the middle of Times Square, was filmed on location in the center of the square. Because of the difficulties in controlling the crowd while filming in Times Square, general pedestrians were featured in the scene with hired extras placed in the immediate foreground. Similarly, a crowd gathered to watch as James Marsden and Timothy Spall filmed their scenes in Times Square. However, the scene Lima found the most challenging to shoot was the musical number, “That’s How You Know”, in Central Park. The five-minute scene took 17 days to finish due to the changing weather, which allowed only seven sunny days for the scene to be filmed.”

Whew – these are *a few* of my favorite NYC-based films. What are some of yours?






3 Responses to “My Favorite New York City-Based Films”

  1. Johnny D July 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Two lesser-known NYC movies that I enjoy: “”Desparately Seeking Susan” (Madonna’s first and best movie) has scenes in Battery Park, the East Village and elsewhere; and Mike Nichols’ “Working Girl,” with Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack has a scene or two shot on the Staten Island Ferry and some nice views of the downtown skyline.

    Also, there’s a scene in “One Fine Day” with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer that was shot near where I work on E. 41st St. near Grand Central Station. It’s supposed to be raining when they get into a taxi, so they set up a big sprinker and it ended up washing most of the dirt off the window of the 10th floor office I worked in.

    • sallanscorner July 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi – I was going to include “Desparately Seeking Susan” and several others, but the list got WAYYY too long very quickly! Thanks for your other suggestions – some great ones there! (and thanks too for the movie trivia!)


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