Pre Covid-19 we searched the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you didn’t have to.”
We made it as easy as 1-2-3.
Covid-19 has required some changes for the time being.
For the month of July we are going to try a different format – on some days we will go visual and offer a selection of the very best NYCity Instagram photos or YouTube videos. Some days you will find “the Nifty Nine”, all the NYC news you need to start your day, or the Top Online Travel Forums with NYC info. On other days we will offer “Corona Culture” – updated info and video especially suited to these difficult times.
We hope you will come back often to see what’s cooking here.
Today it’s 14 Classic NYCity Films (plus a few more personal faves).
If you want to get in the mood for your visit to NYCity, then make yourself some popcorn and pick up a copy of one of these great films at your local Netflix.
(and if you have seen any of these before, remember Director Robert Altman’s advice:
“It’s better to see a great movie again than an average one the first time. Because even though the movie hasn’t changed, you have. And you’ll see something new..”)
The Naked City (1948)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) — “I love this dirty town!”, says Burt Lancaster — and so do we, in one of his signature films — a sour, caustic tale about a twisted gossip columnist, partly modeled on the legendary Walter Winchell. Lancaster is superb, and guess what, so is Tony Curtis.
West Side Story (1961)
Midnight Cowboy (1969) — Two drifters meet in a mutual attempt to survive in, then escape from, Manhattan’s grimy underbelly. Hoffman is incredible as Ratso. The kind they don’t make anymore, this “Cowboy” still packs a hefty wallop.
The French Connection (1971) — Maybe the best cop movie ever, portraying one of the city’s bigger drug busts back in the day. Gene Hackman won as Oscar and became a bankable star with this movie — and it’s easy to see why.
The Godfather (1972)
Mean Streets (1973) — Scorsese’s breakthrough about a conflicted small-time crook and his wacko, self-destructive cousin in Little Italy. Rich in emotion, immediacy, and atmosphere, this film set the pungent, propulsive Scorsese style we’d see again in movies like 1990′s Goodfellas.
The Godfather, Part 2 (1974) — Coppola managed to improve on a masterpiece with this one, which paints on a broader canvas and offers even richer period flavor. And for the price of Brando, we get a young Robert De Niro, who’s equally brilliant.
Annie Hall (1977) — Inveterate New Yorker Woody Allen’s best film ever, with some hilariously dead-on insights about the bi-coastal dilemma: New York vs. Los Angeles. I’m with Woody: give me Gotham every time. This turned Diane Keaton into a star, and it’s still her signature role.
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
Three Woody Allen films in a row may seem a bit much, but for me Woody is the quintessential NYCity film auteur. Heck, I could have added “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989), and “Bullets Over Broadway” (1994).
Moonstruck (1987) — This love letter to Brooklyn is full of charm and humanity, though some disagree… worth the price of admission for Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis alone. And look for an unusual early turn from Nic Cage as a mooning, eccentric baker.
A Bronx Tale (1993)
Half of this list is from the wonderful film critic John Farr.
The other half (films without the write up’s) are my additional personal faves.
Heck, there are just too many great NYCity movies.
Need to make room for these classics:
1910s – Regeneration (1915, Raoul Walsh)
1920s – The Crowd (1928, Dir. King Vidor); Speedy (1928, Ted Wilde)
1930s – Dead End (1937, Dir. William Wyler); King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper)
1940s – On The Town (1949, Gene Kelly,)
1950s – Shadows (1959, John Cassavetes); On The Bowery (!956, Lionel Rogosin); Little Fugitive (1953, Ray Ashley,..); Marty (1955, Paddy Chayefsky); Pickup on South Street (1953, Samuel Fuller )
1960s – The Apartment (1960, Dir. Billy Wilder); The Cool World (1964, Shirley Clarke); Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polansky); Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, Blake Edwards)
1970s – a Golden Decade for NYCity Films
Hester Street (1975 Dir. Joan Silver); Klute (1971, Alan J. Pakula); Superfly (1972, Gordon Parks); Serpico (1973, Sidney Lumet); The Taking of Pelham1-2-3 (!974, Joseph Sargent); Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet); Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese) (great movie but NYCity at its worst); Saturday Night Fever (1977, John Badham); The Warriors (1979, Walter Hill); All That Jazz (1979, Bob Fosse); Shaft (1971, Gordon Parks); Three Days of the Condor (1975, Sydney Pollack); An Unmarried Woman (1978, Paul Mazursky)
1980s—Do The Right Thing (1989, Dir. Spike Lee); Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese); Once Upon a Time in America (1984, Sergio Leone); The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984, Stuart Rosenberg); When Harry Met Sally (1989, Rob Reiner); Ghostbusters (1984, Ivan Reitman); Wall Street (1987, Oliver Stone); Working Girl (1988, Mike Nichols)
1990s – Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese); Metropolitan (1990, Whit Stillman); Kids (1995, Larry Clark); Men in Black (1997, Barry Sonnenfeld)
2000s – Man on Wire (2008, James Marsh); 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee); Rent (2005, Chris Columbus); The Devil Wears Prada (2006, David Frankel); We Own the Night (2007, James Gray)
2010s – Black Swan (2010, Darren Aronofsky); Margaret (2011, Kenneth Lonergan); Spider-Man into the Spider Verse (2018, Bob Persichetti); Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Ethan/Joel Cohen; Birdman (2014, Alejandro González Iñárritu); Brooklyn (2015, John Crowley); Frances Ha (2012, Noah Baumbach)
Want to know what some other folks thought were NYCity’s best movies:
We hope you enjoy this change of pace, then please return here August 1, and every day for our daily, hot off the presses event guide with “Only the Best” NYCity event info.
Lower Manhattan – Did you know?
New York City, a city of neighborhoods, is filled with sights that every tourist should see. No neighborhood has more spectacular sights than Lower Manhattan. Today’s feature:
Address 26 Wall St.
Where it gets its name It was on this spot on Wall Street that the original Federal Hall, built in 1700 as a city hall and later serving as the nation’s initial capitol building, stood.
What is was before The same building once served as the US Customs House and US Sub-Treasury Building
Why it’s notable The site—though not this building—is where George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. The current Greek revival temple, lined by Corinthian columns, bears some resemblance to its predecessor.
What it is now A National Parks Service–operated museum with artifacts like the bible Washington swore his oath on and memorabilia from the trial of John Peter Zenger, who dared to criticize the British royal governor of New York. Tours are available on weekdays.
Fast fact The bronze statue of Washington that fronts the building is 12 feet tall; a 2-foot cast of John Quincy Adams Ward’s sculpture can be found at the Met Fifth Avenue. (nycgo.com)
Now how about some other useful information during these trying times.
Interesting. Unusual. Uniquely NYC. Highlights of this week’s top virtual events include Front Row Summer Evenings, Because Once You Enter My House It Becomes Our House, a radio broadcast of Richard II and more. Get the NYC-ARTS Top Five in your inbox every Friday and follow @NYC_ARTS on Instagram or @NYCARTS on Twitter to stay abreast of events as they happen.
As the country grapples with both a deadly pandemic and the tragic consequences of systemic racism, Socrates Sculpture Park will open an exhibition of new outdoor monuments this summer. MONUMENTS NOW seeks to address the role of monuments in American society – some of which have been removed in recent days – and presents artist-envisioned monuments highlighting underrepresented histories including queer, Indigenous, and diasporic narratives.Socrates Sculpture Park, as with all NYC Parks, has been open and operating …
CMS also announces the extension of its online concert series with Front Row Summer Evenings, six weeks of at-home programming beginning July 12. The series is comprised of HD performance video from the CMS archive, featuring the thoughtfully curated repertoire that CMS audiences have come to expect and enjoy. About the Summer Evenings series programming, Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han commented: “Summer Evenings concerts have traditionally presented music that breathes the pleasant airs of …
For their first major project since the coronavirus outbreak, the Miró Quartet will come together in-person to perform all sixteen Beethoven string quartets and the “Grosse Fuge” live for online audiences via the streaming platform OurConcerts.live.Since mid-March, members of the Quartet have been apart, isolating separately at home with their families. Upon reuniting for this series, they will follow strict protocols in their daily lives to mitigate the risk of virus transmission amongst themselves. Presented by the …
Join WNYC and The Public Theater as they bring Free Shakespeare in the Park to the airwaves with William Shakespeare’s RICHARD II. Brought to you in a serialized radio broadcast over four nights, listen as the last of the divinely anointed monarchs descends and loses it all. When King Richard banishes his cousin Henry Bolingbroke and deprives him of his inheritance, he unwittingly creates an enemy who will ultimately force him from the throne. One of the …
The Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) is delighted to present “Confidence in the Future” at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos. Throughout the 2020 season, BCA continues to focus on paying homage to socially conscious artwork and to art that comes from artists who are actively engaged in creating a vision of the future and expanding our understanding of the role of resistance. The eight artists featured in the show were chosen through an Open …
WFUV-FM 90.7 is my fave local radio station. Noncommercial, member-supported with a format of adult album alternative music, WFUV is doing it’s best to keep us connected to our music with a comprehensive, updated list of live music online.
WFUV Live Online (July 09 -July 15)
7/9 – My Morning Jacket The Waterfall II party
7/9 – Lucius: Wildewoman (with Brandi Carlile)
7/10 – Citizen Cope debut performance of his brand new acoustic album plus deep cuts
7/10 – Brooklyn Bowl 11th Anniversary Celebration 11+ hours of music and more with Phil Lesh, Soulive, Tank & The Bangas, Fantastic Negrito and more
7/10 – Norah Jones performance and Q&A
7/11 – Winnipeg Folk Festival At Home: new performances from Waxahatchee, Kurt Vile and more; past sets from Arlo Guthrie, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Courtney Barnett
7/11 – Rufus Wainwright Unfollow the Rules record release party
7/12 – Brandi Carlile performs Bear Creek
7/12 – Ani DiFranco on the Awful Good Writers Heavy Hitters Festival
7/12 – Mary Gauthier – Sundays w/Mary special guest Lori McKenna
7/14-19 – Woody Fest 2020 with Arlo Guthrie, Jason Mraz, Glen Hansard, Graham Nash, Mary Gauthier and more, plus seminars, panels and poetry
7/14 – On Your Radar with WFUV’s John Platt: Tragedy Ann, Mark Dvorak and Siobhan O’Brien
STAY HOME FOR A BIT LONGER – MASK UP AND STAY SAFE.
One more, just found this. For another perspective on essential NYCity movies (nycgo.com):
For fans of: Broadway theater, inventive indies and the throngs in Times Square
What happens: An actor seeks redemption on the Broadway stage.
Why you’ll book a flight: This look at the cutthroat, behind-the-scenes world of Broadway could make anyone want to go to the St. James Theater (currently showing:Something Rotten), where most of the film takes place. Michael Keaton stars as a former movie superhero in this meta-drama about drama that took home the Oscar for Best Picture of 2014. If you come to the City, you can soak up some of that Broadway pizazz (and intense, postshow conflict, like what takes place in the gorgeously restored Rum House—an après-theater hangout in the Hotel Edison) for yourself. Just don’t expect to see Keaton running through Times Square in his underwear. —Brian Sloan
Where to go:
• St. James Theatre
• The Rum House
• Times Square (the block in front of the Marriot Marquis, specifically)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
For fans of: The holiday season in New York City
What happens: Kevin McCallister hops on the wrong plane, unexpectedly ends up in the City and, again, has a run-in with the world’s worst burglars, the Sticky Bandits (aka the Wet Bandits).
Why you’ll book a flight: Kevin’s in a tough spot, but the movie still shows why New York City is a great place to be during the holidays. Even when you’re on the run from burglars and without parental supervision, the luxury of the Plaza Hotel and the majesty of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree are bound to put a smile on your face. And if there’s any city where you could still, just maybe, track down a Talkboy, this would be the one. —Tess Kornfeld
Where to go:
• Plaza Hotel
• Gapstow Bridge, Central Park
• Rockefeller Center
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
For fans of: Romance and shoulder pads
What happens: Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal meet, fall out of touch, meet again, fall out of touch again, meet yet again, stay in touch this time and fall in love.
Why you’ll book a flight: Shoulder pads may be out, but New York City attractions like Central Park, the Met and, yes, even Katz’s remain romantic all these years later. Late-’80s New York serves as the backdrop for all kinds of key questions: Can men and women ever be friends? Will Harry and Sally ever find love? Can we have what she’s having? Head for the Lower East Side, and you certainly can. —Alyson Penn
Where to go:
• Gallery 131 (Temple of Dendur), Metropolitan Museum of Art
• Katz’s Delicatessen
• Washington Square Park
• Loeb Central Park Boathouse
Coming to America (1988)
For fans of: Following one’s heart, violating franchise agreements
What happens: Akeem (Eddie Murphy), prince of the imaginary African nation Zamunda, goes looking for a future queen in Queens.
Why you’ll book a flight: Prince Akeem’s attempt to find love and the shape-shifting, multiple-role performances of the stars, Murphy and Arsenio Hall, are metaphors for the ways you can reinvent yourself in NYC. As Akeem tells his love interest, Lisa (whose father owns a familiar-looking fast-food restaurant called McDowell’s), “No journey is too great when one finds what he seeks.” —Adam Kuban
Where to go:
• Waldorf Astoria New York
• Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Working Girl (1988)
For fans of: Big ambition, big hair and making it in NYC against all odds
What happens: A smart, sexy Staten Island secretary conquers Wall Street and Harrison Ford.
Why you’ll book a flight: Melanie Griffith’s workplace,One New York Plaza, is adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry terminal; some of the movie’s best scenes take place on her commute (including a sweeping opening shot featuring the Statue of Liberty, to the tune of Carly Simon’s anthemic “Let the River Run”). The sparks between Griffith and Ford fly when they crash a wedding at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, but things get complicated with the return of Ford’s girlfriend (Griffith’s boss), memorably played by Sigourney Weaver. When Griffith finally ascends to the top, her office with a view is in One Chase Manhattan Plaza, a landmarked skyscraper near the World Trade Center site. You know the drill: if you can make it here… —Brian Sloan
Where to go:
• Staten Island Ferry
• Statue of Liberty
• Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
• Pier 6
For fans of: New York City’s magnetic, larger-than-life personalities
What happens: A ragtag crew hunts ghosts.
Why you’ll book a flight: You’re unlikely to encounter ghosts, ghouls or spirits of any sort on a trip to NYC—though you’re welcome to go looking! —but you will find plenty of silver-tongued personalities (and, if you watch TV at the right time, local ads that fit in alongside the Ghostbusters’ commercial). Not everyone’s going to be as quick with the quips as Dr. Peter Venkman, or as charmingly long-suffering as Janine Melnitz, or as proficient at the cello as Dana Barrett, but if you don’t find at least one New Yorker with that distinctly sardonic joie de vivre—a wonderful natural by-product of living in cramped quarters alongside 8 million other people—then someone’s not doing their job. (No, we’re not going to name names. Don’t be rude.) —Jonathan Durbin
Where to go:
• New York Public Library
• Tavern on the Green
• Hook & Ladder 8
For fans of: Fantasies, metaphorically/literally getting one’s feet wet in NYC
What happens: A man falls for a mermaid who comes to NYC to seek him out years after they first met.
Why you’ll book a flight: While you may not arrive naked at the Statue of Liberty (at least not if you plan your trip right), Daryl Hannah’s adventures as Madison (a mermaid who gets her name, naturally, from Madison Avenue) adapting to life in New York City—and assorted rendezvous with Lady Liberty and other landmarks, like the Brooklyn Bridge—should be inspiring for humans and mermaids alike. —Heather Liang
Where to go:
• Statue of Liberty
• Brooklyn Bridge
• Madison Avenue
The Warriors (1979)
For fans of: Leather vests and interborough travel
What happens: A stylish, leather-clad gang evades the police and rival gangs in an apocalyptic, graffiti-covered NYC.
Why you’ll book a flight: Thankfully, the real New York City isn’t a dystopia. But it is a place to set free your inner explorer. Throw on a leather vest, find your way to Pelham Bay Park and pretend, in your role as Warriors new de facto leader Swan, that you’ve got to make your way back to home turf. Stop off in Riverside Park, Central Park and Union Square, before meeting up with your friends—and coming out to play—in Coney Island. —Christina Parella
Where to go:
• Pelham Bay Park
• Riverside Park
• Union Square
• Coney Island
Annie Hall (1977)
For fans of: Existentialism, complicated relationships, Marshall McLuhan
What happens: Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) contemplates what went wrong in his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).
Why you’ll book a flight: This movie promises that NYC will feel like home for neurotic intellectuals who are never comfortable anywhere else. (The quiet of the country makes Alvy nervous and, besides, there’s nowhere to walk after dinner out there. As for Los Angeles…well, he’s got nothing nice to say about Los Angeles). Alvy remembers a childhood living beneath the Thunderbolt roller-coaster in Coney Island. You can’t live there, but you can ride the new version of the since-demolished ride. You can also people-watch at the Central Park Zoo, chat and argue on streets from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village and bring your date to a bookstore and insist that she read The Denial of Death. —Jonathan Zeller
Where to go:
• Coney Island
• Brooklyn Bridge
• Central Park Zoo
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
For fans of: Breakfast, Tiffany’s
What happens: Paul (George Peppard) falls for his neighbor Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), a charming but unreliable eccentric.
Why you’ll book a flight: Come chase the mean reds away like Audrey Hepburn does at her stylish best: romp through Central Park, the New York Public Library, Park Avenue, the Upper East Side and, of course, outside Tiffany & Co. with a danish in the wee hours. —Joyce Rutter Kaye
Where to go:
• Central Park
• New York Public Library
• Well, obviously Tiffany & Co.
Two Men in Manhattan (1959)
For fans of: Noir, nightlife and NYC enchantment
What happens: Two journalists spend a long day’s journey into night trying to pick up a missing French diplomat’s tracks.
Why you’ll book a flight: Those who want to pack as much into one day, or night, as possible, can use Two Men in Manhattan as inspiration, if not actual template—though it’s wonderful to imagine that burlesque joint in Ridgewood, Queens (OK, it doesn’t all take place in Manhattan), and the Pike Slip Inn still exist. This quasi-buddy-road-trip movie is part noir thriller and part paean to NYC’s big sights and nighttime high jinks: the director is like a kid in a candy store showing off the lights of Times Square and rolling through the City streets. There’s smoky jazz, atmospheric bars and 24-hour diners…everything a late night in New York should have; the fact that the interiors were shot in a studio in France should be of little consequence. —Andrew Rosenberg
Where to go:
• United Nations
• Times Square
• Pike Slip