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.
1989 - Crimes and Misdemeanors
One of Allen's most poignant films, Crimes and Misdemeanors posed deeply philosophical questions of moral absolutes (cut with several comedic layers, including a brilliant turn by Alan Alda as a successful television producer). The themes of morals, values and ethics were played out across a wide Manhattan stage, including the Bleecker Street Cinema in Greenwich Village. Unfortunately, the theater no longer exists (it had been located at 144 Bleecker Street and is now a video store). In the film, this is where Woody takes his niece to see movies he feels will make her a better person. (The theater is also where Aidan Quinn worked as a projectionist in the Madonna movie, Desperately Seeking Susan.) Alda offers Woody a job (directing a biography about him) at the elegant Tavern on the Green restaurant, located on Central Park West at 67th Street. And the big wedding party that ends the film was staged in the world-famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel, located at 301 Park Avenue.
1992 - Husbands and Wives
A novel, documentary-style of shooting distinguishes Husbands and Wives, a layered drama dealing with marital, post-marital and extra-marital relationships. In the film, Mia Farrow's has lunch with the newly-single Judy Davis at the Dean & Deluca Café, located at 121 Prince Street in SoHo. Sidney Pollack and his airhead girlfriend go to the movies at the 68th Street Playhouse, located at Third Avenue and 68h Street.
1993 - Manhattan Murder Mystery
The basis for this film came from several ideas originally rejected for Annie Hall, which (believe it or not) started out as a murder mystery. Re-teamed with Diane Keaton, Allen and Keaton play a married couple who suspect that their neighbor may have killed his wife. Elaine's is feature once again, as is the venerable 21 Club at 21 West 52nd Street. A body is discovered at the fictitious Hotel Waldron, which in reality is the exterior of the Hotel 17, located at 225 East 17th Street. The interior is a more famous hotel, the Chelsea Hotel, located at 222 West 23rd Street. One of the most famous artist hotels in the world, the Chelsea has been home to everyone from Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan.
1994 - Bullets Over Broadway
An ode to the Damon Runyon-era of the Great White Way, Bullets Over Broadway featured one of Allen's best ensemble casts, including Dianne Wiest, John Cusack and Chazz Palminteri. The Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street, is where playwright Cusack gets his play staged (backed by mob money). For the Three Deuces Nightclub, Allen used the ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel, located at 481 8th Avenue (which he had also used for a scene in 1987's Radio Days.). New York City remains one of the great "characters" in many Woody Allen films; a living, breathing movie set that's as integral to the story as the actors and actresses. So if you're in town for the convention and you want to experience a true slice of the Big Apple, take a look at some of the cinematic spots he's helped immortalize. And of course, if you live here, it's never too late for a "Woody Walking Tour."
Chris Epting is the author of six books including James Dean Died Here, The Location's of America's Pop Culture Landmarks and the sequel, Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here, MORE Locations of America's Pop Culture Landmarks, from Santa Monica Press. He is currently at work on a new pop culture/travel book.