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A look at the top films shot in New York

New York City has been the world’s most recognisable film set ever since a huge ape climbed to the top of the Empire State Building. In King Kong (1933), the ape cradles the beautiful blonde he loves whilst battling with military aircraft and snapping elevated subway lines.

The ape dies in battle, leaving the city’s skyscrapers imprinted on moviegoer’s minds. But New York’s seedier streets of the time are today’s chic neighbourhoods. The mean alleys live on mostly in films.

Times Square was still a rough neighbourhood when John Schlesinger directed Midnight Cowboy (1969). The film is about two hustlers walking the streets and trying to make money. Dustin Hoffman’s unscripted anger at a taxi driver on the corner of 58th Street and 6th Avenue has become movie legend.

At the other end of the social scale, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) opens with a glamorous Audrey Hepburn staring at precious gems in Tiffany’s shop window on 5th Avenue. Director Blake Edwards shot the scene early on a Sunday morning at the corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue.

In Manhattan (1979), Woody Allen chose the same time on a Monday morning to shoot the final moments of an all night conversation between two characters played by himself and Diane Keaton.

Allen and Keaton sit on a bench overlooking Queensboro Bridge and the East River. Only string lights on the bridge and a solitary street lamp illuminate the scene.

The producers of Vanilla Sky (2001) wanted to shoot a scene with Tom Cruise in an entirely empty Times Square. Just like Blake Edwards and Woody Allen earlier, they had to be on location at 4 am and catch the scene with the first light.

Manhattan is a “far away place” for the Brooklyn characters in Saturday Night Fever (1977). These aspiring dancing stars can glimpse Manhattan from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that links Staten Island to Brooklyn.

Staten Island provided the location for The Godfather (1972) house where Don Corleone lived. The house was in the style of a Tudor mansion. The tomato orchard in the garden where Don Corleone played with his grandson is now a swimming pool.

Wall Street (1987) portrayed a different kind of mafia during the 1980s “greed is good” years. The film shows the New York Stock Exchange trading floor as well as the New York Supreme Court on Center Street.

Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox met for lunch at the 21 Club on West 52nd Street. A speakeasy during the prohibition period, it is now a traditional, upmarket restaurant. The film shows the restaurant’s famous row of cast iron jockeys on a balcony above the main entrance.

The New York Public Library featured in the opening sequences of Ghostbusters (1985), the New York cult movie of the time. Science fiction meets comedy as New York City faces an assault from the paranormal.

The movie’s famous firehouse –  the Ghostbuster’s headquarters – stands on North Moore Street. It is New York City’s second oldest fire station and was fully operational during the filming.

The Siege (1998) was a more prescient fiction about Arab terrorist attacks on New York City. Controversial at the time because of its alleged slurs on Arabs and Muslims, it became the most frequently rented film after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The terror begins with a city bus explosion in Brooklyn. This was filmed in South 6th Street and Broadway in Brooklyn. Another bomb exploded in a theatre near Times Square while troops patrolled the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The film poses ongoing questions about terrorism, law enforcement and civil liberties. Meanwhile, New York City remains a tourist magnet and the star in the world of movie locations.

Image by mandyxclear