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> Latest News > Lights, Camera, Action: the Ultimate New York Movie Guide

Lights, Camera, Action: the Ultimate New York Movie Guide

date Fri, 27/03/2015 - 16:05

tag Empire State Building, New York, Inspiration,

We’ve narrowed it down to the top 35 – including the famous apartment building from Friends!

New York has been the setting for some of the most famous movies and television shows of all time; it’s perhaps this reason why so many people head to the Big Apple on their holidays throughout the year.

The city’s association with the big screen is clear to see in all directions, one which was first ignited after The Thieving Hand in 1908. Because there are far too many physical film sets to see during your holidays, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 35. 

All locations have been laid out on our handy map below, perfect if you’re in the process of booking your New York attraction tickets from us, and more details about how to find each in our A-Z list below. 

 

American Psycho, 2000

The classic psychological thriller comedy, it tells the story of Patrick Bateman – a successful investment banker who is also a serial killer. 

Location: New York Yacht Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue and East 44th Street

New York Yacht Club

How do I get here from Times Square? Take the turn on to West 44th Street and head for 5th Avenue. The Yacht Club is located between 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas.

 

Fun Fact: Christian Bale had been told that it would have been career suicide for him to play the lead in this movie. Despite the warning, it made him even eager to hold such a major part.

 

Big, 1988

Starring Tom Hanks as the adult-size version of 12-year-old Josh Baskin after he makes a wish to be big, Big was one of the most successful comedies of its time. The location we’ve included in our guide is a rather unassuming paddle ball court on Thompson and Spring Street, the venue for when Tom Hanks and John Heard have a tense game of paddle ball that becomes a hilarious fistfight.

Location: Thompson and Spring Street

How do I get here from Times Square? As it’s around 2.5 miles south of the square, we recommend getting a cab down 7th Avenue, turning left once you reach Spring Street. It’s in a playground called Vesuvio Court. Alternatively, you could catch the 8th Avenue Line from the 42 St Port Authority Bus Terminal and get off at Spring Street. Once there head south and follow signs for Spring Street, then walk two blocks left and it’s on the corner.

Fun Fact: Big was made into a Broadway musical and debuted in 1996, faring considerably worse than the film.

 

Black Swan, 2010

A psychological thriller that centres on a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Natalie Portman descends into a living nightmare following the pressure of competing for and performing the main role.

 

Location: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza

Lincoln Center at night

How do I get there from Times Square? Head along West 47th Street until you reach 10th Avenue before continuing north. The Lincoln Center Plaza is found between West 62nd and West 65th Street.

Fun Fact: Natalie Portman was injured several times during the filming, including a hefty concussion and a twisted rib on another occasion – for which she spent six weeks in recovery. The scene with Portman receiving physiotherapy is completely real.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

A classic film portraying the glitz and glamour of New York City, it centres around Holly Golightly, the eccentric society girl who is considered the most memorable character portrayed by the great Audrey Hepburn.

Location: Tiffany & Co

How do I get there from Times Square? The store is located on 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th street. The easiest way to get there by foot is to head east until you get to 5th Avenue, then walking north until you reach 56th avenue.
Fun Fact: The famous opening scene was very difficult for Audrey Hepburn. Not because of the acting, but because she hated Danish pastries.

 

Catch Me If You Can, 2002

Telling the true story of serial fraudster Frank Abaganle Jr., Catch Me If You Can was met with critical acclaim upon its release. It’s in our list because of the Metlife Building being featured, but the skyscraper was one of 147 different locations across America which can be seen in the film.

Location: MetLife Building

MetLife building

How do I get there from Times Square? Get to West 46th Street and head East towards Vanderbilt Avenue. Now turn south and you can’t miss it – it’s nearly 250m tall!

 

Fun Fact: Until he watched the final film, the real Frank Abagnale Jr. didn't think Leonardo Di Caprio would be suave enough to play the role.

 

Crocodile Dundee, 1986

A story of a man from the Australian outback who has never been to the city, it shows the stark differences between the two and results in a true comedy classic. The location we’ve added is a particular lamppost on 5th Avenue that Mick Dundee climbs up.

Location: 5th Avenue and West 53rd Street

How do I get there from Times Square? Head east along 46th Street until you reach 5th Avenue. Now head north until you get to 53rd street and it’s on the right.

Fun Fact: Quotation marks were added around "Crocodile" for the American release to make sure people didn't think that Dundee was a crocodile.

 

Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985

One of Madonna’s most successful film appearances, Desperately Seeking Susan is a story of mistaken identity that was lauded by critics upon its release in 1985.

Location: Battery Park

How do I get there from Times Square? As it’s over 6 miles from Times Square to lower Manhattan, we recommend getting a taxi. You could also wander over to the 49the Street bus station and ride the Broadway Line all the way down to Whitehall Street. From that point it’s no more than a five minute walk to the park. If you do choose to walk, head south towards the 9/11 Memorial Center and it’s just a bit further on.

Fun Fact: While called Susan in the film, there's a scene where Madonna is wearing a red top with the letters 'MC' on it. These are her initials in real life, 'Madonna Ciccone'.

 

The Devil Wears Prada, 2006

Offering a glimpse of the fashion industry, it stars Meryl Streep as the fearsome boss Miranda Priestly and Anne Hathaway as budding journalism graduate Andy Sachs.

Location: McGraw-Hill Building

McGraw-Hill Building

How do I get there from Times Square? Head along to 6th Avenue then north two blocks until you reach 48th Street. From that point it’s very hard to miss.

Fun Fact: It was the most expensively-costumed film ever produced, with fashion designers allowing many of their clothes and accessories to be used.

 

Fame, 1980

Named among the best High School Movies, Fame was a commercial success after its release in 1980 and follows the determination and courage of students enrolled at the New York High School of Performing Arts.

Location: Church of St. Mary the Virgin

How do I get there from Times Square? Literally a couple of yards away, head east along West 46th Street and the church is on your left-hand side.

Fun Fact: The film was originally meant to be set at the High School of Performing Arts, however the producers were forced to find a new venue after permission was refused. Instead the Church of St Mary the Virgin was used as the exterior and Haaren High School was used for interior shots.

 

Fatal Attraction, 1987

A story of blackmail, stalking and obsession, Fatal Attraction was the second-highest-grossing film of 1987 and even won best film at the 60th Academy Awards.

Location: 675 Hudson Street – Alex Forrest’s Apartment

How do I get there from Times Square? Go west along 43rd Street and travel south along 9th Avenue until you reach West 14th Street.

Fun Fact: Glenn Close - who played Alex Forrest - still has the knife used in the film hanging in her kitchen.

 

Friends, 1994 – 2004

Undoubtedly one of the most successful television shows of all time, it centres on a group of friends living in Manhattan and explores the trials and tribulations faced in every life.

Location: Grove and Bedford Streets – The Friends Apartment Building

Friends apartment building

How do I get there from Times Square? Head straight down 7th Avenue and take a slight right turn on to Grove Street. Get to the Little Owl Café and it’s right behind you.

Fun Fact: Bruce Willis once appeared in Friends for free after losing a bet with Matthew Perry.

 

Ghost, 1990

A romantic fantasy starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, Ghost made over $500 million at the box office despite a meagre budget of just $22million.

Location: Mezzogiorno Restaurant, Spring Street

How do I get there from Times Square? It’s just one block away from the paddle ball court on Spring Street from Big – just look for Sullivan Street and you won’t miss it.

Fun Fact: When the movie was first released in 1991, the VHS tapes were light in colour and referred to as 'ghost gray'.

 

Ghostbusters, 1984

Remembered among the best films of all time, it follows three parapsychologists on their mission to rid New York City of ghosts. As well as filming at the New York Public Library, the film also featured 55 Central Park West, which has since become known as ‘the Ghostbuster’s Building’

Location: New York Public Library, 5th Avenue

New York Public Library

How do I get there from Times Square? Head down Broadway and then go right along 42nd Street until you reach 5th Avenue.

Fun Fact: The voices of the gatekeeper Zuul and Slimer were Ivan Reitman, the film's director. He was never credited with these and did it to avoid paying another two voiceover artists. 

 

The Godfather, 1972

Considered one of the best films of all time, it tells the tale of the Corleone family and is based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name.

Location: Radio City Music Hall, Avenue of the Americas

How do I get there from Times Square? Go north along 7th Avenue and then east along 50th Street

Fun Fact: Although the cat being held in the first scene is now an iconic image of the film, it was in fact a stray and no cat was ever written into the original script.

 

Goodfellas, 1990

Another mafia film favourite, Goodfellas is a classic Martin Scorsese film that narrates the rise and fall of Henry Hill, an associate of the Lucchese family.

Location: The Copacabana Club, 47th Street

How do I get there from Times Square? Go along 47th Street towards 8th Avenue and it’s just on the left-hand side.

Fun Fact: Joe Pesci's mother said that the film was good after watching it, but asked him why he had to curse so much during the filming.

 

Home Alone 2, 1992

The sequel to the Macaulay Culkin classic, it sees Kevin McAllister once again outsmart Harry and Marv, the two dim-witted burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

Location: The Plaza Hotel

Plaza Hotel

How do I get there from Times Square? Go north along 7th Avenue before turning right onto 59th street and head to the end of the block.

Fun Fact: This movie was actually shot at the Plaza in a Central Park Suite. The phone number given for the plaza in the movie was an actual working number.

 

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, 2003

A classic romantic comedy, it was based on a carton book of the same name and took over £170 million at the box office. While it is set across the city, we’ve chosen Madison Square Garden as our feature.

Location: Madison Square Garden

How do I get there from Times Square? Just walk down 7th Avenue for around half a mile and you won’t miss the arena.

Fun Fact: It's thought that the value of the jewels lent to the film cost over £14.2million.

 

King Kong, 1933

A film which largely put New York on the map as a film destination, King Kong was a real triumph in the age of 1930s cinema and the character has become one of the world’s most recognisable icons.

Location: Empire State Building

Empire State Building

How do I get there from Times Square? Walk south along Broadway and then start walking towards 5th Avenue when you reach 34th Street – it’s the big building on your right hand side! It’s also within easy reach using the subway, just hop on the Broadway Line from 49th Street until you get to 34th Street-Herald Square.

Fun Fact: Producer/director Merian C. Cooper originally considered using live Komodo Dragons in place of dinosaurs!

 

The King of New York, 1990

It’s a crime thriller starring Christopher Walken as a drug lord working in New York City. Despite many walking out of the cinema on first release, it holds a reputation as a cult classic.

Location: Lunt-Fontaine Theater

How do I get there from Times Square? It’s on 46th Street and just a few feet from Times Square.

Fun Fact: The Queensboro Bridge, the setting for the final car chase in the film, was actually shut down for two nights for filming.

 

Leon: The Professional, 1994

The breakthrough movie for a 12-year-old Natalie Portman, Leon is a classic thriller about a young girl who learns the trade of a hitman after finding an unusual friend in Leon Montana.

Location: Pine Bank Arch Bridge, Central Park South

How do I get there from Times Square? Head north along 7th Avenue and the bridge is found in the south west corner of the Park.

Fun Fact: During a scene where lots of police cars were on the street, a man ran from a store which he had just robbed. After presuming the uniformed extras to be the actual police, he handed himself in to them.

 

Manhattan, 1979

Winning two Academy Awards and falling to worldwide acclaim on its 1979 release, Manhattan is often regarded among the best films by the great Woody Allen and it is now preserved in the national film registry.

Location: Boating Lake, Central Park

Loeb Boathouse, Central Park

How do I get there from Times Square? Walk north along 7th Avenue until you reach Central Park. Now follow all signs to the Boating Lake.

Fun Fact: Manhattan is one of the few films by Woody Allen not to feature opening credits.

 

Mean Streets, 1973

Another Scorsese motion picture about crime, Mean Streets is considered culturally significant and today, like Wood Allen’s Manhattan, is preserved in the United States National Film Registry.

Location: St Patricks Old Cathedral, 5th Avenue

How do I get there from Times Square? Head east along 48th Street and go north on 5th Avenue.

Fun Fact: The revolutionary use of a hand-held camera in the filming was down to the film’s low budget not being able to cater for tracking shots.

 

On the Town, 1949 

A musical film starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, On the Town was always going to be an instant hit once it was released in December 1949.

Location: Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

How do I get there from Times Square? As it’s down near the Civic Center, we recommend getting the Broadway Line from 49th Street down to Canal Street, changing onto the Lexington Avenue Line before getting off at Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall.  Of course you could also get a taxi and head there directly.

Fun Fact: Jules Munshin, who played Ozzie, was afraid of heights. The only way he could perform the song ‘New York, New York’ on the tiny rooftop was with a piece of rope tied securely around his waist under his sailor suit.

 

Shaft, 1971

A film responsible for one of the best soundtracks of all time, it’s the story of Jon Shaft, a private detective who seeks to find the missing daughter of a black mobster, travelling through Harlem and the Italian mob neighbourhoods in the process.

Location: 55 Jane & Hudson Street – Shaft’s Apartment

How do I get there from Times Square? Travel down 8th Avenue before turning right onto Hudson and Jane Street. His house from the movie is number 55.

Fun Fact: Isaac Hayes originally auditioned to play the title role, but lost out to Richard Roundtree. The production team were so impressed by Hayes that he was asked to write the legendary score, one which spent 60 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.

 

Sex and the City, 2008

The film from the hit TV series, it tells the story of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda as they sashay their ways through life as single ladies in the Big Apple.

Location: Christies Inc.

How do I get there from Times Square? It’s on 6th Avenue between 48th and 49th Street, so just head towards 6th Avenue.

Fun Fact: Victoria Beckham was offered a cameo role in the movie, but had to turn it down because of her commitments to Spice Girls Tour rehearsals.

 

Taxi Driver, 1976

An American vigilante film starring Robert De Niro, it’s considered one of the best films of all time and sees his character Travis Bickle become a taxi driver to escape the chronic insomnia bought on from depression.

Location: Times Square – You’re already here!

Times Square

Fun Fact: In preparation for the film, Robert De Niro worked as a taxi driver doing 12-hour shifts for one month.

 

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 1974

A classic that was remade in 2009, it sees a group of criminals taking passengers of a New York City Subway car. It is also noted for its fantastic musical score.

Location: Gracie Mansion, East End Avenue.

How do I get there from Times Square? Located toward the North East Side of Manhattan, you’re best heading to 1st Avenue and then travel north until you reach 88th Street. From here you can travel the short way to East End Avenue.

Fun Fact: The title refers to the New York Subway timetable terminus and the time of departure radio call sign. In the case of the film, the train originally left Pelham station at 1.23pm.

 

The Usual Suspects, 1995

A crime thriller acclaimed for its famous plot twist, The Usual Suspects is considered a worldwide triumph despite its original budget of just $6 million.

Location: Flat Iron Building

Flat Iron building

How do I get there from Times Square? Travel down Broadway and it’s just after Madison Square Park.

Fun Fact: The stolen emeralds used in the film were actually real gemstones loaned to the production team.

 

Vanilla Sky, 2001

A story of science fiction and romance, Vanilla Sky was a box office success despite the film being panned by some critics.
Location: Royalton Hotel, 44th Street

How do I get there from Times Square? The Royalton is between 6th and 5th Avenue on 44th Street.

Fun Fact: Kurt Russell agreed to do the movie without even reading the script.

 

The Warriors, 1979

A cult thriller based on a Sol Yurick novel of the same name, The Warriors tells the story of gang culture in New York and is today considered among the most controversial movies ever produced.

Location: Fireman’s Memorial

How do I get there from Times Square? It’s a 20-minute ride on the Metro North to 96th street, or a lengthy walk north along Broadway until you head west on 98th street.

Fun Fact: The production team paid a real gang, called 'the Mongrels', $500 a day to protect their filming trucks.

 

West Side Story, 1961

Considered the modern day Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is a tale of love between two people of rival gangs – the Jets and the Sharks.

Location: The Playground on Tito Puente Way

How do I get there from Times Square? It’s a 4-mile walk from Times Square, up 3rd Avenue, so we recommend getting the Metro. The easiest way to do this is to catch the Broadway line north and changing onto the Lexington Avenue line when you get to Lexington Avenue. Stay on until 110th Street and head along Tito Puente way towards 2nd Avenue.

Fun Fact: Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and Tab Hunter were among the long list of candidates to play Tony. Had Presley taken the role, he would have played opposite Natalie Wood, one of his real life ex-girlfriends.

 

When Harry Met Sally, 1989

A romantic comedy, it explores the long-considered question of whether or not a man and woman can be friends without feelings getting in the way. The location we’ve chosen is Katz’s Delicatessen, the source of one of the film’s most memorable lines: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Location: Katz’s Delicatessen, East Houston Street

Katz's deli

How do I get there from Times Square? You will need to head south towards East Village, and the easiest way to do this is to catch the 6th Avenue Line from Bryant Park down to 2nd Avenue. From here it’s just a short walk East.

Fun Fact: After Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron struggled to come up with a title, it was made into a competition among the crew members and the winner received a bottle of champagne.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013

Another portrayal of a criminal by Di Caprio, this time he plays Jordan Belfort, the corrupt Long Island penny stockbroker who spent 36 months in prison after defrauding investors in the 1990s.

Location: North Cove Marina, South End Avenue

North Cove Marina

How do I get there from Times Square? While you could take a long walk down 7th Avenue, on to Varick Street and then past the World Trade Center, to get there by subway, catch the 7th Avenue Line from 42nd Street station and get off at Rector Street. From here it’s just a walk north west past the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Fun Fact: Leonardo di Caprio was so nervous during the kissing scene with Joanna Lumley that it took 27 takes to get it right.

 

You’ve Got Mail, 1998

Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox start an anonymous internet romance online, but it’s not until they meet in person that it becomes clear they are actually business rivals.

Location: Starbucks Coffee, 2252 Broadway and West 81st Street

How do I get there from Times Square? You will have to head North West, so get onto Broadway and keep walking. It’s on the right-hand side in between 80th and 81st Street.

Fun Fact: Both Joe and Kathleen used AOL software to connect to the internet, using version 4.0, which had been in beta testing mode when the film was being made.

 

Whichever of the New York shopping hotspots or other attractions that we’ve mentioned in our guide you’re planning to visit during your holiday, we hope it will help make your stay in the Big Apple truly memorable. If we’ve missed a location from your favourite movie, feel free to let us know through our Facebook page so we can make this guide even better!

 

Image Credit: Chrupka (Shutterstock.com), Ben Miller, Bosc d'Anjou, Son of Groucho, Brad Clinesmith, Rob Young, Julian Mason, Alan Light, Ivo Jansch, Maria Elkind, Sarah Delbridge, ERIC SALARD, Sarah Delbridge, Peasap, Patrick Nouhailler (Flickr.com)

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