A Woody Allen Walking Tour of New York City
He'll take Manhattan: from Annie Hall to Zelig
As the Republican Convention unfolds in New York, the drama will be mostly focused on platform planks, policy, speechmaking, sound bites and the like. There will be characters of all sorts paraded across the stage, and New York will become a mere backdrop for lots of partisan politics and protests. But for those in search of the Big Apple's real spirit, it would behoove both visiting Republicans and full-time New Yorkers alike to take a tour of the sites that have become more familiar courtesy of Woody Allen, whose films serve as loving, visual (and sometimes neurotic) reminders of what makes New York such a personally affecting place. Woody's New York is an authentic New York; as much about offbeat delis and street corners as it is about skylines and museums.
So if you're ready to walk off some angst, then let's visit some of Woody Allen's most memorable New York filming locations.
1977 - Annie Hall
Considered by many to be his best ever, the bittersweet story of a quirky neurotic named Annie Hall did as much for alternative female fashions as it did for the filmmaker's career. All of a sudden, women were wearing men's ties, vests and hats, and Woody was viewed as more of an "artist" who dealt with adult themes and humor versus some of his lighter works (i.e. Sleeper and Love and Death). Autobiographical or not, Annie Hall won Oscars that year for Best Picture, Best Actress (Diane Keaton), Director (Woody Allen), and Original Screenplay.
Some of the film's more memorable landmarks include the Beekman Theatre, located at 1254 Second Avenue. This is where Alvy Singer (Woody) is accosted by a fan who recognizes him (when Annie is late for the movie and Alvy is waiting outside for her.) Another theater, the Thalia Cinema, was once located at 250 West 95th Street. Torn down in 1987, this was where Alvy bumped into Annie (as she takes her new boyfriend to see The Sorrow and the Pity) at the ending to Annie Hall. As far as Annie's apartment goes, while the exact location remains a mystery, it was definitely located somewhere on 70th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues.
1979 - Manhattan
Manhattan remains a favorite of most Woody Allen aficionados. Shot in stark black and white and set to a powerful Gershwin score, it dealt with awkward adult themes in a genuinely touching manner, and featured a wonderfully sinister turn by Meryl Streep (as Woody's estranged, now-lesbian ex). A young Mariel Hemingway played Woody's teenage love interest in the film, and it was at John's Pizzeria (278 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village) where she broke the news to him that she was off to London to study. A real-life haunt of Woody's, the classic New York restaurant Elaine's, (1703 Second Avenue between East 88th and East 89th Street) is where the film opens, with Woody waxing on to his friends about the trials and tribulations of dating a 17-year old. The iconic poster image for the film of Woody and Diane Keaton seating on a bench together was shot at Riverview Terrace on Sutton Square, just beneath the 59th Street Bridge on the east side of Manhattan. Perhaps the most famous scene from the movie, this is where Woody and Diane Keaton watch the sun come up together, in the shadow of the bridge. (There's no longer a bench located where the pair sat.)
1984 - Broadway Danny Rose
This 1984 effort focused on the career of Danny Rose, a small-time, two-bit Broadway talent agent whose roster of hopeless, hapless clients and bad luck send him on a series of adventures, recalled by some old Borscht belt comedians who swap Danny Rose stories at one of New York's most famous delis, The Carnegie. Another real life spot frequented by Woody Allen over the years, it remains virtually unchanged since the film and also stands as one of the most authentic New York culinary experiences. The Carnegie Deli is located at 854 Seventh Avenue.
1986 - Hannah and Her Sisters
Another critical and box office success, Hannah and Her Sisters focused primarily on the complex lives and relationships of several women (including "Hannah," played Mia Farrow) and also featured wonderful performances by Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow and Maureen O'Sullivan, among others. A sophisticated, deeply emotional (and also very funny) film, Hannah and Her Sisters featured many New York City locations. Pomander Walk, located at 260-266 West 95th Street (through to 94th Street) is where the architect (played by Sam Waterston) takes Dianne Wiest and Carrie Fisher on a favorite building tour, including a walk through this beautiful mock-Tudor village.The Langham, located at 135 Central Park West, was where Hannah lived and where her memorable Thanksgiving dinners were held each year. The St. Regis-Sheraton Hotel (2 East 55th Street) is where Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey conducted their clandestine affair after meeting at the Pageant Print and Book Store (now the Central Bar), located at 109 East Ninth Street in the East Village.