It may be safe to say that no other filmmaker or artist has become as synonymous with New York as Woody Allen. Thanks to loving camerawork and a wide-ranging array of location shoots, the city itself serves as one of his most fascinating characters.
Let’s start with “Annie Hall” (1977), one of Allen’s first movies and considered one of his best. Alvy Singer (Allen, playing one of his trademark schlubby neurotics who are somehow irresistible to much more attractive women) and Annie (Diane Keaton) share a romantic moment by Pier 17 at South Street Seaport.
Allen set the opening scene of his 1979 classic “Manhattan” at the Upper East Side restaurant Elaine’s, a favorite of his in real life. Elaine’s also shows up in 1993’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” which features a couple of other New York City institutions, including the 21 Club and the Chelsea Hotel.
The Carnegie Deli (pictured above) is one of New York’s most famous old-school delicatessens, and another frequent haunt of Woody’s; it features prominently in “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984). The deli offers a sandwich called “The Woody Allen” in honor of the movie, with “Lotsa corned beef plus lotsa pastrami.”
In “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey meet for clandestine trysts (his character’s married to her sister, played by Mia Farrow) at the St. Regis Hotel on East 55th Street. The final wedding scene in “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989) takes place at another great old hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria.
In one of my favorite Allen movies, “Bullets Over Broadway” (1994), a young playwright played by John Cusack gets his play produced at the Belasco Theatre. The catch? The play’s backed by a mobster, who makes sure his ditzy girlfriend gets a plumb role.
For “Whatever Works” (2009), Allen returns home after several movies shot abroad (“Match Point,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”). Larry David (playing the Woody Allen character) leaves his Upper East Side life for an apartment on Mott Street in Chinatown (which in reality is much hipper, more expensive, real estate than this movie implies). When he meets a naïve, much-younger Southern girl (Evan Rachel Wood), he shows her the city, including a trip to Grant’s Tomb.
Finally, for those seeking a peek at Woody in his natural habitat, the rabid jazz fan (the music features prominently in most of his movies) and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band play most Monday evenings at the Carlyle Hotel.