Monday, November 18, 2013

TCM Classic Film Tour of New York City

 Hello all, apologies for not posting sooner and for not sharing the awesomeness that was the TCM Classic Film Tour.  I was lucky enough to be approached by a representative from On Location tours offering me an opportunity, as a blogger (a term I use loosely since I'm not the timeliest of bloggers) to go on the tour and I jumped, leaped, vaulted, hopped at the opportunity.  I was going to be in the NYC area over Columbus Day Weekend for a family event so I thought that would be a good time to take in the bus tour.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to go on this bus tour, since I've been living in Los Angeles for the last year.  I always feel like I'm missing out on something classic film related when I'm on the opposite coast.  I don't think I've ever been on a bus tour before and this seemed like a good choice for my maiden voyage.  I made my way into the city and somehow convinced one of my brothers to meet me at the bus to be my plus one (my family isn't as classic film obsessed as me, but I'm slowly converting them).  Anyway, back to the tour.  As you can see in the photo above, this the bus that took us around the city.  We started at the Ellen's Stardust Diner at 51st and 7th.
I first met the tour guide Sarah, who exuded enthusiasm and excitement for all things classic film and for the tour.  She kept the tour lively and fun, even while we sat in traffic making our way cross town to Grand Central Station.  The day started out with an introduction video going over some of the highlights of films shot in NY and included a welcome from Robert Osborne (pictures below).

 The bus was very comfortable, with multiple TV screens throughout.  I also noticed (near the end of the 3 hours) that there were outlets in many of the seats.  This was helpful for a much needed phone charge.  There was also a bathroom at the back of the bus.  I had some trouble with the light/door, but it was really nice to not have to worry about missing anything for a potty break.  Anyway! We began by heading towards Columbus Circle, Sarah pointed out the various films that utilized the area, these films included It Should Happen to You, Superman (Lois Lane lived nearby), Ghostbusters, On the Town and some others.  There were many mentions of On the Town, since it was the first musical/film to be shot on location in NYC.  Here are some shots of On the Town and Columbus Circle.
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!

From It Should Happen to You

Found the above image from Once Upon a Screen who also had a chance to go on the tour and wrote a lovely overview of her experience, which included riding on the bus WITH Robert Osborne and Jane Powell!
After driving through Columbus Circle we made our way past Lincoln Center.  Sarah shared an interesting story about the filming of West Side Story and showed a clip of Russ Tamblyn discussing shooting in the city.  It turns out that they were able to shoot the film in that area before construction on the current Lincoln Center began.  It is also where scenes from Moonstruck and The Producers were filmed.
Lincoln Center
West Side Story


Zero and Gene dancing in the fountain
We then headed over to a little area near Zabars, which had a lot of very nice looking buildings.  One of which The Apthorp, which is dually interesting because it was not only where the film Heartburn was filmed, but it's also where Nora Ephron had lived.

The Apthorp
We made our first stop of the day at Zabars, which is where a scene from You've Got Mail was filmed.  We got off the bus and were able to walk around and purchase snacks.  My whole bus wanted to buy the brownies because Sarah mentioned that they were to die for.  They were delish.  My brother also got me some souvenirs.

After Zabars we headed to The Dakota, which was in Rosemary's Baby and also where John Lennon was shot and killed.  We had another opportunity to get off the bus and I have to say it was very strange to stand in the front of the building, but it's definitely a NY landmark.

As we left the Dakota, Sarah shared a funny story about Mia Farrow living in her mother's apartment in a building nearby.  This apartment was used for filming in Hannah and Her Sisters.  After getting back on the bus we headed through Central Park, where scenes from Marathon Man were shot.  I saw that movie for the first time at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival.  We then drove past the Guggenheim and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Movies mentioned with these buildings/areas included Cactus Flower, Butterfield 8, Midnight Cowboy, Eyewitness and When Harry Met Sally.

"I'd be proud to partake of your pecan pie"
We then made a stop at the house used for Audrey Hepburn's apartment in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  On the drive over there Sarah shared 2 interesting Breakfast at Tiffany tidbits.  One was that Audrey Hepburn was not a big breakfast pastry fan (which helps explain her svelte figure) and suggested that she be eating ice cream instead.  The other piece of trivia was that there were 2 versions of the iconic Givenchy dress, one for walking and one that was just for standing, because it was so tight and she had to be sewn into it.
This was followed by a drive to the 59th Street Bridge, which was made iconic in the movie Manhattan.  My brother and I were not as iconic, but still a lovely view.
We then made our way to Lexington and 52nd, which is wear Billy Wilder and company filmed the famous subway grate scene from 'The Seven Year Itch.'  Ultimately the scene was recreated on a set, they still had an evening shoot at this location.  Sarah mentioned that TCM hopes to set up a plaque or a memorial at the location, right now it just looks like any other subway grate.

Sarah did her best Marilyn impression:
And my brother didn't see what all the fuss was about:
We then started to make our trek towards the last stop on tour, Grand Central Station.  There was an inordinate amount of traffic as we made our way cross town and to pass the time Sarah led the bus in a trivia contest.  It was a lot of fun and I'm not just saying that because I won :).  There were many questions about information that we heard/learned on the tour and other questions about general classic film knowledge. Here are pictures of the very nice t-shirt that I won:

Everyone also got an issue of Now Playing.  

While heading over to Grand Central Station we passed some other interesting buildings, such as the Seaman's Building, St. Barts, St Regis, Rockefeller Center, The Waldorf Astoria and The Empire State Building.  To the left is a clip of King Kong sharing a moment with the Empire State Building.  Other films that were filmed there were Love Affair, An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle.  By the time we made it to Grand Central Station I was a little bit out of sorts, because I had to catch a train back to Long Island so I could catch my ride to the airport (I was flying back to Los Angeles that afternoon/evening).  But I did get some pictures of Grand Central Station before frantically speed walking to Penn Station to catch my train.  But the movies that have been filmed there include: North by Northwest, Spellbound and The Thin Man Goes Home (to name a few).

All in all this was a wonderful tour and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience it.  I loved that we got to make stops along the way and soak in the location.  It was great that the bus had TVs so that we could watch enjoyable clips, interviews and explanations of the wide variety of films that have been filmed in the city of New York.  It was great to have such a knowledgeable and fun tour guide, Sarah and be surrounded by a nice group.  I'll be sure to keep an eye out for any and all tours put together by TCM and/or On Location Tours.  Thanks for reading!

List of the movies mentioned on the tour (that I either wrote down or somehow remembered): 
On the Town, Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Town, Sleepless in Seattle, West Side Story, Network, Nothing Sacred (Which has the honor of being the first technicolor film shot on location in NY), Butterfield 8, Ghostbusters, Superman, Annie Hall, Manhattan, You've Got Mail, Rosemary's Baby, Hannah and Her Sisters, It Could Happen to You, Marathon Man, Cactus Flower, Hearburn, Eyewitness, When Harry met Sally, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Midnight Cowboy, The Seven Year Itch, North by Northwest, Spellbound, An Affair to Remember, King Kong

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