TCM's Dennis Adamovich, Robert Osborne and Jane Powell initiate the formal launch of the TCM Classic Film Tour. (Photo: Turner Classic Movies).
By Lee Pfeiffer
In true Hollywood style, it was an offer I couldn't refuse: an invitation from Turner Classic Movies to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural roll out of the TCM Classic Film Tour of New York city movie locations. This event, which took place on August 20, was restricted to the media and invited guests. TCM host Robert Osborne was there to greet everyone along with a Hollywood legend, Jane Powell, who was clearly delighted to participate. Osborne and Powell used giant scissors to cut the ribbon on the bus, which is distinctively branded with the network's logo (and appropriately enough, the ultimate New York City "big" star, King Kong). Joining them was Dennis Adamovich, Senior VP of Brand Digital Activation and the guru behind the Turner Classic Movies Film Festivals. Once aboard the bus, we were treated to what the average attendee will experience on the tour. There is a video greeting by Robert Osborne and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide (in this case, an impressive young lady named Roseanne who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the NY film locations.) There is an abundance of film clips pertaining to the various sites on the tour. The bus does make several stops to allow attendees to disembark for photo opts. These include the famed Dakota apartments where Rosemary's Baby was filmed (and where John Lennon was tragically murdered), the 59th Street Bridge where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton filmed an iconic scene for Manhattan, Holly Golightly's apartment from Breakfast at Tiffanys, the subway grate where Marilyn Monroe posed for the famed "up skirt" photo from "The Seven Year Itch" , the famed Zabar's market where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan encounter each other in You've Got Mail and, concluding the tour, Grand Central Station, site of many a film shoot including classic scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest. Even an old movie history war horse like myself was humbled by the fact that I could learn so many new facts about these classic films. The tours, which begin operating today for the general public, are three hours in duration and leave from 51st Street and Broadway. Locations are concentrated on the uptown neighborhoods but go as far south as the Empire State Building.
TCM host Robert Osborne with Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved)
The 59th Street Bridge, the "star" of an iconic scene in Woody Allen's Manhattan and the inspiration for a classic song by Simon and Garfunkel. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
Other film locations that play major or minor backdrops for popular movies include those seen in Plaza Suite, Coogan's Bluff, Live and Let Die, The Apartment, Arthur, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, Network, West Side Story, The Out of Towners, The Sunshine Boys, Ghostbusters, The Producers, Serpico, Annie Hall, Moonstruck, The Way We Were, Crocodile Dundee, Big, Superman, the Eddy Duchin Story, Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town, Baby Boom, Weekend at the Waldorf, My Man Godfrey, Hannah and Her Sisters, Midnight Cowboy, Barefoot in the Park, Nothing Sacred, Miracle in the Rain and many more. Much use is made of classic film clips showing many of these movies, with emphasis on the 1949 MGM classic On the Town, especially in Columbus Circle where Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin made merry (the original subway entrance and news stand are still intact).
Holly Golightly's apartment from Breakfast at Tiffany's is a residential address today. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
The Dakota apartments where Rosemary's Baby was filmed- and where John Lennon met his tragic end. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
Tour guide Roseanne shows the subway grating where Marilyn Monroe shot publicity stills for The Seven Year Itch. Roseanne informed us that the sequence for the film was shot here but was later redone in the studio. However, the iconic images of Monroe on the New York street still resonate with movie fans worldwide. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
There is another value to the tour that extends beyond Hollywood history- and that is the fascinating facts and anecdotes pertaining to how the city itself has changed over the years (and in some cases, remained consistent in terms of film locations.) On Location Tours, which runs the service in conjunction with TCM, also provides trivia questions on the monitors so that attendees can compete for prizes. (This is used as a pleasant way to kill time in case the bus becomes embedded in one of Gotham's notorious traffic jams.)
In all, this is a marvelous treat for both casual movie fans and die-hard TCM viewers. Tickets are $43 for adults, $27 for children. Click here to book tickets and get more info about the tour.