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Tuesday July 23rd 2024

Big | 1988

Big filming location: Grand Street, SoHo, New York
Big location: Josh’s loft apartment in SoHo: Grand Street, SoHo, New York

The best of the clutch of Eighties bodyswap movies was originally meant to star Robert De Niro, though the boy-man Josh now seems the part Tom Hanks was born to play.

Young Josh Baskin plays ancient video games at his home over the Hudson River from Manhattan, at 437 Greenmount Avenue, Cliffside Park, in New Jersey. His best friend, Billy, lives next door at 435.

North, at Ross Dock Picnic Area on the Palisades Interstate Park, north of the George Washington Bridge, stood the funfair where Zoltar speaks and grants Josh his wish to be big. Of course, the next day, the grown-up Josh discovers that the fair has moved on.

After freaking out Billy at ‘George Washington Junior High’, which is is School #6 Cliffside Park, 440 Oakdene Avenue, Josh’s quest to find Zoltar takes him to Manhattan where he ends up, like all innocents in the city, in a sleazy Eighties-era Times Square.

Big filming location: St James Hotel, West 45th Street, New York
Big filming location: Josh stays at the ‘scuzzy’ hotel: St James Hotel, West 45th Street, New York

Reassured by the religious name, Josh books into the St James Hotel, 109 West 45th Street at 6th Avenue, a block east of Times Square. It was quite brave of the hotel to use its real name – it’s nothing like it appears in the movie, and certainly doesn’t “smell bad”. Over 20 years later, the St James is still thriving, so the film doesn’t seem to have harmed its image too much.

Big filming location: West 23rd Street, New York
Big location: Josh gets a job at ‘MacMillan Toys’: West 23rd Street, New York

To support himself while he searches for the elusive travelling fair, Josh manages to get a job at ‘MacMillan Toys’ in the old Hasbro Toy Company Building at 32 West 23rd Street in the Flatiron District.

In the film’s most famous scene, Josh and his boss Mr MacMillan (Robert Loggia) get to dance Heart And Soul on the fab giant keyboard on the Second Floor of giant toystore FAO Schwarz, at 745 Fifth Avenue at 58th Street. In 2009, FAO Schwartz was acquired by Toys 'R' Us, who subsequently closed down the flagship store in July 2015. So, no heart, no soul.

Big filming location: FAO Schwartz, Fifth Avenue, New York
Big filming location: the toystore with the giant keyboard: FAO Schwartz, now closed, Fifth Avenue, New York

When his enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, what kids want gets Josh promoted to Vice President in Charge of Product Development, the pay allows him to rent a large, if empty, SoHo loft apartment at 85 Grand Street on the corner of Greene Street.

Josh even manages to hold his own when ultracompetitive co-worker Paul (John Heard) challenges him at squash in the Thompson Playground, on the northwest corner of Thompson and Spring Streets in Greenwich Village.

Big filming location: Strip House Grill, 12th Street, New York
Big location: Josh celebrates his birthday: Strip House Grill, 12th Street, New York

He does let rip, though, flinging pizza dough around as he celebrates his birthday at what was Asti Restaurant, now the Strip House Grill, 13 East 12th Street, east of 5th Avenue in Greenwich Village.

When Josh finally catches up with Zoltar, it’s over 20 miles north of New York, on the coast of Long Island Sound. ‘Sea Point Park’, the spookily deserted deco funfair, where the growing-up process gets reversed, is Rye Playland, Playland Parkway, in Rye, on I-95, the New England Thruway. Playland is also seen also in Fatal Attraction and Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown.