If you love the movies, then NYC is the place for happy squeals of recognition at the many landmark spots, says Mini Anthikad-Chhibber
New York City is quite the pop culture paradise. Apart from directors such as Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese who mainly shoot in the Big Apple, the sights and sounds of the city have been immortalised in many films and television shows. On a recent trip to the capital of the world, I sought to visit some of my favourite movie locations in town.
Solomon R. Guggenheim museum
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Guggenheim is a work of art by itself. And then there are some amazing Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Chagall and Picasso. As you feast your eyes on all that art, remember this is the site of that thrilling shoot out in The International (2009) where Salinger (Clive Owen) interrogates the assassin. Good stuff — the buck naked couple getting themselves painted in front of the museum as installation art was a bonus.
Museum of Modern Art
In addition to all the lovely Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat, Monet, Dali, Pollock, Rodin and Andy Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe pictures, MOMA got an Oscar. In 1937, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded the museum for its collection of films. Even though the museum in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill (1980) is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I’d like to imagine the bored New York housewife Kate Miller made her fatal assignation at MOMA — it just seems right; De Palma’s never-ending takes echoing the dreamy beauty of a gigantic Cézanne.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you are a museum junkie, you could spend a week at the Met and still want more. There is stuff for every kind of enthusiast — from art to armours, statuary to ancient Egypt. The punk exhibit was fun with Liz Hurley’s safety pin dress as was the section on the Egyptian queen, Hatshepsut. All reading Paul Doherty’s Amerotke series might want to spend extra time here. The movie connection has to be When Harry Met Sally (1989) — “But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie”.
Museum of Natural History
Dino lovers like yours truly will never pass up a chance to look at the thunder lizards close up. The Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton — the one that chased Ben Stiller all over the museum in the Night At The Museum (2006) is awesome. There is also a statue of Teddy Roosevelt looking like Robin Williams — no, it is the other way around, but you get the drift. The special exhibits include mind-boggling whale exhibition and Journey To The Stars for astronomy enthusiasts.
If the museum mile proves too much for you, you could step out into Central Park. Much beloved of gazillion movies — over 300 apparently, Central Park has provided the setting for diverse movies from romance (Love Story, 1970) and drama (Wall Street, 1987) to comedies (Enchanted, 2007), thrillers (Vanilla Sky, 2001) and action movies (Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1995). Walk down the mall where Dustin Hoffman says goodbye to his son in Kramer Vs Kramer (1979), listen to musicians at Strawberry Fields, the memorial dedicated to John Lennon or watch the artistes create these absolutely life-like pencil sketches of Tony Montana aka Scarface (1983).
Grand Central Station
The subway in New York takes some figuring out. The reward at the end of the rainbow is the Grand Central Station or to give it is proper name, Grand Central Terminus, which turns 100 this year. While the underground looks grey and regular, nothing prepares you for the magnificence of the structure when you come to street level. You can very easily imagine suave Madison Avenue ad exec Roger O Thornhill (Cary Grant) slipping on his Wayfarers to buy a ticket to Chicago on the 20th Century Limited in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest (1959).
Empire State Building
The 102-ft tall skyscraper brings to mind only King Kong and the beauty that killed him. Braving serpentine queues, fighting claustrophobia and your ears popping as you zoom up the many floors is all worth it for the panoramic view. Tony, the audio guide sounding like Joe Pecci in Goodfellas (1990) added to the mood.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
While Lady Liberty is the single establishing shot, to say welcome to New York in countless films, the Statue of Liberty reminded me of the climax of Ghostbusters II (1989) where our intrepid trio animate the statue to make New Yorkers feel positive. Ellis Island brings memories of a nine-year-old Vito Andolini who flees his village of Corleone after his family is killed by the local don Ciccio (The Godfather Part II, 1974). At Ellis Island, the boy is registered as Vito Corleone and the don is born.
Walking down Madison Avenue where all the Madmen congregate to tell you which soft drink or toothpaste will change your life forever, you could, like Don Draper, step into a Manhattan bar for a liquid lunch of a martini or two or a cosmopolitan like Carrie Bradshaw.
New Yorkers avoid this iconic place like the plague as being too noisy and touristy. It doesn’t hurt to take your picture at the site of numerous disaster films.
The stretch of Broadway close to Times Square has all these theatres. Numerous Broadway productions have been converted into Hollywood films, including Chicago (2002) and Grease (1978). I watched Rock Of Ages, and found that I enjoyed the film better — Tom Cruise was such fun as Stacee Jaxx; all that anthemic music was also more fun in the film. Still you can’t be in NYC and not go to show on Broadway!
After a long day and night in the city that never sleeps, you could recreate your own Breakfast At Tiffanys (1961) moment — stand in front of the famous jewellers window on the corner of Fifth Avenue, throw on an LBD, gloves, pearls, shades and grab a Danish pastry and coffee, and you are Miss Holly Golightly in the flesh!
Keywords: New York City, NYC, The Big Apple, new york tourism, Tiffanys, Broadway, Times Square, Madison Avenue, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Central Park, Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim museum