Sleepless In Seattle | 1993
Nora Ephron’s cutesy romance, sparklingly photographed by longtime Ingmar Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist, was the sleeper of ’93, and, although Vancouver was considered as a location, the real Seattle finally won out. In fact, most of the ‘Chicago’, ‘Baltimore’ and ‘New York’ interiors are Seattle, too, as are some of the ‘Baltimore’ exteriors.
Moving to Seattle, he sets up home with his young son Jonah in a houseboat at 2640 Westlake Avenue North, on the west shore of Lake Union in the Queen Anne Hill district, in the north of the city.
There seems to be some kind of aquatic connection with journalist Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), who lives over on the east coast, at the foot of the pier on the Fells Point waterfront of Baltimore, at 904 South Broadway.
The newspaper for which she writes is the Baltimore Sun, from its office at the Baltimore Sun Building, 501 North Calvert Street, where she enjoys a happier career than the obnoxious Freddy Lounds did in Red Dragon.
When Jonah phones a radio station to ask for a new wife for his depressed dad, it’s inevitable that Annie is listening in her car.
The ‘Capitol Diner’, apparently in the shadow of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, where she stops off only to find the female staff listening to the same phone in, can be found in Baltimore. It’s the, currently closed, Hollywood Diner, 400 East Saratoga Street – famous as the original setting of Barry Levinson’s 1982 Diner.
Annie and her workmate Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) walk past the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church and the Washington Monument on the way to lunch at Baltimore institution the Woman’s Industrial Exchange, 333 North Charles Street, which is where she admits that, along with seemingly half the female population of the US, she thinks the mysterious ‘Sleepless’ caller sounds “nice”.
Supposedly in ‘Baltimore’, the New Year party, where Annie and her dull fiancé Walter (Bill Pullman) make plans for the future, is the Dome Room of the Arctic Building, 700 Third Avenue at Cherry Street, in Seattle’s Business District. The 9-storey building was built in 1916 as a private club by men returning rich from the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon, which explains the terracotta walrus heads decorating the façade.
The wonderfully elaborate library, where Annie visits her brother Dennis (David Hyde Pierce) to talk over her creeping doubts about marriage, is the Peabody Conservatory of Music, 1 East Mount Vernon Place.
Meanwhile, Sam’s pal, Jay (Rob Reiner), is giving him some man-to-man advice about the mysteries of dating, sex and tiramisu in the Athenian Inn, 1517 Pike Place (tel: 206.624.7166), a breakfast and lunch eaterie in the Main Arcade of Seattle’s landmark Pike Place Market.
It’s also in the market that Sam shops with his prospective date, Victoria, she of the hyena-laugh. He takes her for a meal at the Dahlia Lounge, one of Seattle’s top restaurants, where Annie’s hired detective surreptitiously photographs the couple. In 1993, the restaurant stood at 1904 4th Avenue, but has since moved premises, though not too far, to 2001 Fourth Avenue at Virginia Street.
Smitten Annie is soon whizzing across the States to the northwest, where she spies on Sam playing with his son at Alki Beach Park, Alki Avenue SW at 58th Avenue SW, on the northwest shore of West Seattle.
Which can’t be good news for poor Walter, when she meets up with him at the Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street. in New York, and the couple seem destined to settle for unadventurous domesticity at Tiffany & Co, 727 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street.
Though, to be fair, with Annie constantly sniffling over TV showings of An Affair To Remember and its planned romantic tryst atop the Empire State Building, Walter’s choice of the Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center, with its view of the – erm – Empire State Building, doesn’t seem the wisest choice for a Valentine’s Day meal.
And, sure enough, in no time, Annie is soon rushing out of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza entrance and heading for the famous Observation Deck and an assuredly happy ending.
Although the exterior and lobby of the Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street, are the real thing, a slightly larger replica of the Observation Deck was built in a hangar at Sand Point Naval Base on Puget Sound just northeast of – where else? – Seattle.