Bullets Over Broadway | 1994
Once again, Woody Allen manages to turn the mean streets of New York into a warmly glowing visual feast.
The theatre where playwright David Shayne (Woody stand-in John Cusack) gets his latest work staged, with dubious finances, is the Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Opened in 1907 as the Stuyvesant Theatre, the Belasco became home to the innovative Group Theatre in the 30s, which produced such shows as Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing!, Waiting for Lefty and Golden Boy, while launching a new wave of talent including the likes of Lee J Cobb, Frances Farmer, John Garfield, Elia Kazan, Karl Malden and Sylvia Sidney.
The central character of Joel Coen’s Barton Fink is loosely inspired by Clifford Odets, and the ‘Broadway’ theatre where Fink’s play is such a success is supposedly ‘The Belasco’.
You might recognise the hotel lobby of Shayne’s mob backer, Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli), as the place where Luca Brasi gets garrotted in The Godfather. It’s been renovated since the seventies, but the public areas of the Edison Hotel, 228 West 47th Street are still a deco delight.
On the Upper West Side you’ll find the stable where gangster-cum-playwright Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) is quizzed: the Claremont Riding Academy, 175 West 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, which is where the hippies got their horses for the Central Park ride in Milos Forman’s film of 60s musical Hair.
Even further north, the penthouse apartment of grande dame Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest), is on 110th Street at Riverside Drive, though the beautiful early 20th century roof, with its rare view of a skyscraper-free Manhattan skyline is that of an office building on Nassau Street, down in Lower Manhattan.
The ‘Three Deuces’ nightclub was filmed in central Manhattan, in the ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Avenue. The ballroom had previously appeared, decorated differently, in another slice of Woody Allen nostalgia, Radio Days.
The old movie theatre, under the elevated railway tracks, was the Commodore, 329 Broadway, at Rodney, across the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Built in 1922, it was home to the Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival from 1998 until 2002, when it closed down. It was controversially demolished in 2007.