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Film History

The first film ever made outdoors in New York – May 4, 1895

Ever wonder what the very first movie ever shot in Manhattan was? It also happens to be the first American film ever shown to a paying movie audience.Woodville Latham and his sons Otway and Gray Latham had invented the Eidoloscope projector (also called the Pantoptikon), running very crudely like a film projector today. However its […]

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Film History Podcasts

Nickelodeons and Movie Palaces: New York and the Film Industry 1893-1920

The historic movie studio Kaufman Astoria Studios opened 100 years ago this year in Astoria, Queens. It remains a vital part of New York City’s entertainment industry with both film and television shows still made there to this day. The Museum of the Moving Image resides next door in a former studio building. To honor […]

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Film History

The Fantastic Mr. Fox: A legendary Brooklyn movie producer and his overwhelming media legacy

A ghost hangs over an American media empire. Over one hundred years ago, a Brooklyn-based movie impresario named William Fox helped shape the direction of the nascent motion picture industry, building a film-production empire in New Jersey and New York and operating a string of theaters that would introduce millions to the possibilities of moving […]

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Film History

Does Pauline Kael like it? A new documentary looks at the New Yorker film critic’s tenacious career

Could you imagine Pauline Kael‘s opinions of Netflix and Amazon growing influence over the motion picture industry? What would she say about watching The Irishman — made by one of her favorite film directors — on an iPhone? Would she be a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? (I think we can predict that answer.) […]

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Film History

“Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?”: Reliving six New York City movie scenes from 2019

Is it just me or was there more New York City than ever before in TV shows and movies in 2019? Granted, there is simply more of everything — more TV shows than ever, on a growing number of streaming platforms. And generally speaking there were a lot of films released in 2019 — even […]

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Brooklyn History Film History

Motherless Brooklyn: 10 things to know before checking out Edward Norton’s detective film

Motherless Brooklyn, a radical retro transformation of Jonathan Lethem’s book of the same name, refits the bright noir of the movie Chinatown into 1950s New York City. Edward Norton, who wrote and directed this adaptation, also stars as its central figure — Lionel Essrog or simply Brooklyn, a detective with Tourette syndrome and a photographic […]

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Film History

New York City stories: Great documentaries about the Apollo Theater, Statue of Liberty and the Bronx

One positive side of the near-infinite television choices we now face in 2019 — more documentaries than ever! And in the past two weeks, HBO Documentaries and PBS’ Independent Lens have given us films that are firmly rooted in New York City history and culture. The Apollo Premieres tonight on HBO Few building embody American […]

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Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History

Once Upon A Time In Five Points: The Bowery Boys Movie Club revisits Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York”

As a celebration of filmmaker Martin Scorsese (whose film The Irishman opens this month), we’ve just released an episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club to the general Bowery Boys: New York City History audience. This is an exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon. For current patrons, we’ve also just released a […]

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Film History

The Current War: The new film about Edison and Westinghouse is a sublime jolt for history lovers

The Current War, an epic detailing the battle for electrical power in the 19th century, was supposed hit theaters in the fall of 2017. But its distributor was the Harvey Weinstein Company and its release date was delayed by more important matters. Flash forward to the fall of 2019 and The Current War has finally […]

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Film History

The World of Today: How the New York World’s Fair connects to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The New York World’s Fair of 1939-40, held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, was an extravagant wonderland of ideas, filled with technological wonder and futuristic imagination. It was fun for all ages — if you could afford it. Children were a key audience, of course, and the fair was advertised to them in a variety […]

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Film History

Celebrating New York City history at the Oscars: Julius Bar, Minetta Lane, Madison Square Garden

Films honored annually at the Academy Awards usually have a historical backdrop — lavish sets and period-accurate costumes plucked from the past. Most of the nominees for Best Picture this year take a time machine to a past generation. The Favourite peers at the backroom (and bedroom) intrigues of Queen Anne. Roma dives into Mexico City in the early 1970s; BlacKKKlansman visits […]

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Film History Friday Night Fever

The film ‘Green Book’ visits the Copacabana, the pillar of New York’s glamorous, volatile nightlife

NOTE: This post features a slight spoiler of an event which occurs in the film’s first five minutes. The period film Green Book — nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture — goes cross-country with pianist Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali) and his chauffeur/bodyguard Tony Lip (played by Viggo Mortensen), depicting the varying gradients of class and race relations in […]