Turner Classic Movies Shows You the Big Apple
When most people think of the silver screen, they think of Hollywood, with its acres of back lots and miles of red carpet. But moving pictures first began in New York City, which remains the city with the most films shot on-location. Now, this history comes alive with Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Tour, a three-hour sightseeing bus tour featuring some of the most famous movie locations in the Big Apple.
"It is a great way to see how much -- and how little -- the city has changed over the years," said TCM host Robert Osborne, a longtime resident of New York who joined reporters and film star Jane Powell for the inaugural ride.
TCM has partnered with On Location Tours, one of the world’s largest TV and Movie tour companies, to present a curated tour of the city’s greatest film locations.
Starting in Times Square, the bus rode past the Brill Building, site of the now-closed Capitol Records and the site where many of the most important movie scores were created. We were headed to Columbus Circle at the corner of 59th Street and Central Park South, where scenes from films like 1954’s "It Should Happen to You," and 1976’s "Taxi Driver" were shot. In "Superman," it was the location of Lois Lane’s apartment (not bad for a beat reporter) and the site where the Stay-Puft marshmallow man wreaked havoc in "Ghostbusters."
Can’t remember these scenes? Don’t worry, the humorous and extremely knowledgeable tour operator will screen them for you via the buses’ closed-captioned TVs. As you pass the luxurious Prasada at 50 Central Park West you’ll see the spot where Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis battled New York in "The Out-of-Towners." As you roll by Central Park, you’ll get a glimpse of the old Tavern on the Green, from the 1956 flick "The Eddie Duchin Story."
Drive past Lincoln Center, and you’ll see scenes of Zero Mostel in "The Producers," of Woody Allen in "Annie Hall" and of Cher and Nick Cage in "Moonstruck."
If it seems as though ever corner of the city has multiple "on-location" spots to watch out for, it’s because it does. One of the first moving pictures was shot on May 11, 1896 in Herald Square. When ’talkies’ came along, the film industry was relocated to Los Angeles, with its perfect light and weather, and unlimited back lots. But the 1948 crime docudrama "The Naked City" brought it back.
Since that time, more movies have been shot on location in NYC than anywhere else, and more in Central Park than anywhere in the city. From New York’s grandest hotels, like the Ansonia (The Sunshine Boys"), the Apthorp ("Heartburn") and the Dakota ("Rosemary’s Baby", to its stores, like Zabars ("Annie Hall"), Bloomingdales ("Moscow on the Hudson") and Tiffany’s ("Breakfast at Tiffany’s") the city is a treasure trove of movie history.
The tour bus glides by the Empire State Building, where King Kong held Fay Wray captive and Meg Ryan met Tom Hanks in "Sleepless in Seattle."
It rolls past the Waldorf Hotel, as seen in "Broadway Danny Rose" and "Weekend at the Waldorf." It even cruises by St. Bart’s church, as seen in "Arthur," and the Seagram’s Building, where Diane Keaton’s character worked in "Baby Boom."
But forget about those places you can find yourself; a main draw of this TCM tour is those locales you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find, like the brownstone of Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany’s." You might be able to stroll through the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur like Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in "When Harry Met Sally," but you might not be able to locate the corner nearby where Dustin Hoffman’s famous "I’m walking here!" scene from "Midnight Cowboy" occurred.
And would you ever know that Method actor Hoffman put pebbles in his shoes during the whole production, to maintain his shuffling gait?
This tour takes visitors to spots like Sutton Place, the most expensive block in New York City, and shows them the view of the 59th Street Bridge as seen in William Powell’s 1936 gem "My Man Godfrey." And if you happen to see the red Roosevelt Island Tram in the background, as seen in the 2002 film "Spider-Man." Is this film a classic? TCM lets you decide. In a city where every hustler tries to take tourists for a ride, TCM’s bus tour is a sure bet.
"As a kid growing up in a small town in Washington State, my only exposure to New York City was through all the movies," said Osborne. "The town with its towering skyscrapers, fascinating people and teeming energy absolutely captivated me. Seeing New York in the movies is what made me want to live in Manhattan one day. I eventually got my wish, and the city has never disappointed me."
The TCM Classic Film Tour will run Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit http://www.tcm.com/tours or call 212-913-9780.