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In this installment of our favorite movies set or depicting New York City, Silvio weighs in.

“Fort Apache, the Bronx” (1981)

What a controversial film. There was massive pre-premiere hostility in the form of protests by Hispanic groups about the treatment of Hispanics in the film.

It did nothing to stop the release and did everything to increase its box office draw.

Regardless of the content, controversy or Paul Newman’s beautiful blue eyes, this movie at the time was a cinematic pariah but today is a visual snapshot of a Bronx I remember.

In the mid 1980s, I worked in the very area they used as a backdrop.

I worked at two different knitting mills on Third Avenue between Tremont Avenue and 176th Street.

Before that, my father worked there in the ’60s and ’70s. As a toddler and whatever it is that is the next stage after toddler, I ran around the filthy floors that later in life I would patrol as a supervisor in a knitting mill.

One of the reasons this movie resonates with me is the authentic Bronx locations.

When Paul Newman and Ken Wahl chase after a purse snatcher, the event starts right at the corner of Third and Tremont Avenues.

The building behind the police car is Expert Knitting Mills, where my father and I worked.

In fact, the corner clearly visible behind the screeching police land yacht was a pizza parlor where I spent many a lunch break.

The police chase the thief up the steps of Tremont Park.

In the scene blocking Newman, the facade on the building directly behind him are the windows of my knitting mill.

Just behind those windows were huge tables and huge scissors where I dropped off knitted pieces for quality inspection from the owners.

The movie’s location supervisor did a great job in identifying visual representations of the Bronx at that time.

The final scene features a genuine backdrop of the burned-out South Bronx that could never be recreated in a studio with master prop and studio coordinators.

Today that backdrop is gone. Fortunately, it’s lost to history and preserved only in pictures and film.

“The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three”

Four heavily armed men daringly kidnap and take hostage an entire New York subway train with passengers, gripping the city in paralyzing suspense.

They pledge to carry out hideous consequences if their ransom demands are not met within one short hour.

The only way to teleport the viewer of this fine thriller is to set the scene in an actual subway car under New York City.

That’s exactly what the creators of the original “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974) did.

Court Street Station, an abandoned subway station since 1946, doubled from different angles as two of the stations depicted in the film, 28th Street and Grand Central.

A stretch of track and an actual subway car were also used, extending the realism of the drama.

Today that abandoned station serves as the New York City Transit Museum.

Above ground, wide shots of the desperate car and motorcycle transportation of the ransom money were shot on location through Centre Street, Park Avenue, Astor Place and 28th Street.

A wonderful scene with uniformed police and the film’s New York mayor is captured with the backdrop of the 28th Street subway entrance.

Earlier in the film, one of the four gunmen, Mr. Green, portrayed by the late, great Martin Balsam, is seen descending into the 59th Street subway entrance.

Near the end of the film, when he is seen exiting the subway, it is through an actual subway grate in the sidewalk on Union Square East (between East 15th and 16th Streets) in Manhattan.

I love the incredible attention to detail this film took in using New York as its backdrop, but also equally important was the accurate representation of the character’s New York accents and attitudes.

A fun fact: A train’s name designation comes from the originating station and the scheduled time it left the station.

In the case of the film’s No. 6 train, it left the Pelham Bay Park Station in the Bronx at 1:23, hence Pelham 123.

After the movie was released, the No. 6 train would never be scheduled to leave Pelham station at 1:23 a.m. or p.m. by order of the New York City Transit Authority.

“A Bronx Tale”

Growing up in the Bronx was incredibly diverse, fun, scary, exciting and many times eventful. I loved every minute of it — looking back at it through nostalgic glasses.

The title character of “A Bronx Tale” goes through his own growing up in the tough streets of the Bronx, caught between his friends, the streets, the local mob men and his dad.

This movie, directed by one of New York’s favorite sons, Bobby De Niro, was written by a Belmont native, Chazz Palminteri, and it is semi-autobiographical.

The Belmont area of the Bronx is called “The Bronx’s Little Italy.”

Today, there is even an emblem with the Italian flag’s colors in the road at the corner of Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street. That is the street that the narrator of the film, Cologero Anello, tells us he grew up in.

An emblem with the colors of the Italian flag is painted on the street .

He even points out his stoop. I remember having to explain what a stoop is to my friend from Alabama and his wife who were watching the movie with me and my wife.

The characters were so authentically New York that it really sells the movie.

The locations too give a real feel of 1960s New York, but the filmmakers had to go out of the Bronx to find the buildings still standing, unchanged that gave that authentic 1950 through 1960s New York look.

The locations for Calogero’s stoop, the Chez Bippy bar on the corner and all the street scenes were in Astoria, Queens. Although it was not the Bronx, it was still New York.

A fun fact: De Niro plays a bus driver. In order to drive the bus during filming, he got a commercial driver’s license with an airbrakes license after training with the New York City Transit Authority.

“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

We find Vinnie Barbarino playing Tony Manero, a Brooklyn boy who works in his neighborhood paint store in Bay Ridge and he is the borough’s best disco strutter.

He’s great on the dance floor or dancing on the Verrazano Bridge. Just don’t hit his hair!

“Escape From New York” (1981)

Yeah, yeah, I know.

Except for the shots on Liberty Island and that famous cooper lady in the background, nothing else was filmed in New York.

John Carpenter worked magic to make St Louis and Los Angeles locations take on the grit and attitude of the titular city in the lawless future of “1997.” Ha!

 

John’s Favorite Movies About or Set In New York City

“Ghostbusters” (1984)

Columbia University; Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company # 8 in TriBeCa as their office.

The New York City Public Library on 5th Ave was also used along with the building located at: 55 Central Park West (actually at 66th St.) was known as  “Spook Central.”

The movie also featured one of my favorite ambulance conversions a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor.

I enjoyed seeing the old blue and gold New York license plates.  I also liked “Ghostbusters II.” which had the Statue of Liberty, along with some other New York gems.  Here they also pointed out the Statue of Liberty license plate too and wove it into the script.

2016


The movie was mostly filmed in Boston and Massachusetts but some shots were filmed in New York City.

Columbia University was featured.

14 North Moore St., was their main headquarters, which was FDNY Ladder 8 featured in the 1984 version.

“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three”
1974


Subway entrance at Lexington Ave & East 59th Street, Manhattan.

Gracie Mansion, East End Avenue and 88th Street, Manhattan.

Astor Place and Lafayette Street, Manhattan

Court Street Station, Brooklyn.

2009

Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Manhattan.

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel 301 Park Avenue (between E 49th & 50th Street) Manhattan.

The Manhattan Bridge East River located in Lower Manhattan.

 “You’ve Got Mail” (1998)

As for “You’ve Got Mail,” it was a clever AOL tag that had me hooked on this romance movie.  Kind of sappy but reminded me of talking with people in the old days of AOL.

It’s why I changed my AOL email to John31NYC because in a chat room they’d ask what’s your name, how old are you and where are you from.

Now some 23 years later it’s still my email address and when it appeared on my resume I hoped that they thought I was much younger than advertised.  I guess its perception that counts.

Filmed on the Upper West Side.

The Shop Around the corner-106 West 69th Street

Fox and Sons Books-Broadway between 66th and 67th Streets

Cafe Lalo-83rd Street and Amsterdam

H&H Bagels-2239 Broadway

Zabar’s-at 80th Street and Broadway

The ending of the movie takes place in Riverside Park’s 91st Street Garden.

Lights! Camera! New York!

If there is one thing guys can argue about, it’s movies.

Put three guys in a room and ask them to rank the best movie in any category and you will get five different opinions.

Now, suppose these guys are New Yorkers.

You can get five different opinions — this time with attitude.

Which bring us to this: Picking the top three movies that were either set in New York City or best depicted it.

This was all set in motion by an article last year in The New York Times that attempted to tackle this issue.

At AMR, we are an opinionated stubborn lot, each with our own heartfelt views of movies and each with our own personal favorites for which movie shined the best spotlight on our hometown.

So over the next few days, each of us will weigh in with our “Best Of” lists. Turns out some of our picks overlap but many do not.

What movies set in New York City were your favorites? How far off base are our picks?

Let us know. You can comment on our Facebook page or write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

Or be like a New Yorker and just scream at your computer screen loud enough to wake the neighbors.

Here’s my picks:

“The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three”

For me, this is the quintessential New York movie. Maybe it explains why it ranks as my all-time favorite (Shhhhhh….Don’t tell “Star Wars.”)

Let’s start with the basics: The No. 6 line (aka Pelham line aka Lexington Avenue line ) was the one I grew up with, so it’s close to home.

The thing about “Pelham” is that it so perfectly captured the attitude, passion, dark humor and grittiness of New York and its 8 million inhabitants.

The plot is terrific and the dialogue is like listening to a beautiful symphony of smart-ass street-savvy New Yorkers.

The authentic feel of the cop cars, the politics and the trains coupled with the dynamic soundtrack make this a must-see celebration of the city.

“The Warriors”

This is another one of those dark gritty movies with some smaller light moments to break up the grim.

Set largely at night with an overwhelming sense of menace lurking behind every corner, this 1979 movie captured the dispirited nature of New Yorkers who were contending with high crime and a broken subway system.

Despite its almost relentless hopelessness, there does come triumph in the end.

It’s a bit schlocky in places and maybe the production values are not the highest, but it stands out for the sense of place it delivers about the city.

Bonus: In recognition of a big blowout cast reunion in 2015, I interviewed one of the leading actors, Terence Michos, who played Vermin in the movie.

Vermin Speaks! An About Men Radio Podcast Interview With “The Warriors” Star

​”The Pope of Greenwich Village”

This one is a personal favorite again because it hit close to home.

I was in college when it was being shot, with many key scenes filmed at “my” subway stop on the No. 6 line at Castle Hill Avenue.

I recall the big stage lights and crew occupying one of the entrances to the subway and being there for a long stretch. It was exciting to see a bit of Hollywood come to the Bronx!

There was an old Irish bar on the corner of Castle Hill and Westchester Avenues where some of the key characters, played by Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts, meet.

That it was shot in a place so familiar to me lent the film an air of authenticity that was easy to relate to.

You know, it’s like one of those things where you see a scene on the big screen and you go: “I know where that is!”

BTW, as a total aside, AMR posse member Pedro and I both have had our brush with Hollywood, appearing as extras in a crowd protest scene in the 1983 movie “Daniel,” starring Timothy Hutton.

We had to get to the Lower East Side super early on a winter’s morning, wear dark clothing and donated our day’s pay to a charity.

If you want to see what we look like, click here. It’s truly a “Where’s Waldo?” moment.

And no, I still have not watched the movie.