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Film History Podcasts

Capturing History: Ric Burns and James Sanders on “New York: A Documentary Film”

In today’s episode, Tom discusses the vast span of New York history with filmmakers and authors Ric Burns and James Sanders, creators of New York: A Documentary Film. Tom, Ric and James discuss the 8-part documentary (which aired on PBS in installments in 1999, 2001 and 2003) and its newly updated companion book, “New York:… Read More

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Film History Science

The original IMAX: Jacob Riis and his magic lantern

Jacob Riis changed the world with “How The Other Half Lives.” By using the new technology of flash photography, Riis was able to capture the squalid conditions of Manhattan tenements in a way no mere paragraph, drawing or sermon could. The startling photographs contained in this book did not originate there, however. Riis debuted them… Read More

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Film History

“Keep ‘Em In The East”: A new book on New York and the movie business

New York City (and the surrounding region) was the capital of movie making at the industry’s inception until the major studios moved out to Hollywood in the mid 1910s. By the late 1960s, a creative revolution of independently made film — a “New Hollywood” movement, inspired by European filmmakers and driven by film students will… Read More

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Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History

The French Connection: Bowery Boys Movie Club

The new episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club explores the new film The French Connection, the gritty action classic employing an astonishing array of on-location shots — from Midtown Manhattan to the streets of Brooklyn. It’s an exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon. The French Connection, directed by William Friedkin and… Read More

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Film History Landmarks

The World Trade Center in its greatest film roles

How do you feel when you see the World Trade Center pop up in a movie from the 1970s and 80s? Sadness? Nostalgia? Or, with so many years gone by, do they just seem unusual to you? Fortunately researcher and movie lover Donna Grunewald had documented every reference you need to revisit all those emotions.… Read More

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Film History Podcasts

The Magic of the Movie Theater: A History of Palaces and Arthouses

PODCAST In celebration of 125 years of movie exhibition in New York City — from vaudeville houses to movie palaces, from arthouses to multiplexes. On April 23, 1896 an invention called the Vitascope projected moving images onto a screen at a Midtown Manhattan vaudeville theater named Koster and Bial’s Music Hall. The business of movies… Read More

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Film History It's Showtime

The Fantastic Mr. Fox: The media legacy of a legendary Brooklyn movie producer

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… Read More

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Film History Landmarks

Cheers to the Ziegfeld Theatre, the ultimate screen for sweeping drama

The Ziegfeld Theater, one of Manhattan’s last single-screen movie theaters, closed for regular film exhibition in 2016.* Its final film was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, an appropriate choice as tens of thousands of movie lovers had gone to the Ziegfeld to see previous films in the series — including the 1977 original. I think… Read More

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Amusements and Thrills Film History

The Paris Theater: A loving tribute to a cinema survivor

The Paris Theater, as glamorous and as eccentric as any film it’s ever played, has the benefit of having the Plaza Hotel and Central Park to ensure it never goes out of style. But the history of this romantic and occasionally radical movie house, the longest running single-screen movie theater in New York, is as… Read More

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Brooklyn History Film History

Free movies in Coney Island saloons — since the year 1912!

People have been enjoying movies and alcohol well before anybody first thought to make popcorn for hungry audiences. Believe it or not, this carefree pleasure — one most people do not take for granted anymore — has its roots in a small but significant decision that was made almost 110 years ago. In May of… Read More

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Amusements and Thrills Film History

The Trans-Lux experience: New York’s ‘modern’ mini-movie houses

I’m a sucker for severe electric-laden art-deco theaters like the Trans-Lux Modern Theater which was once located in Midtown Manhattan on the corner of 58th Street and Madison Avenue. Most every Midtown movie theater by the 1920s dabbled into electric signage to grab attention. But Trans-Lux worked in the opposite direction. To underscore the importance… Read More

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Film History Pop Culture

Watching ‘Mank’? Listen to these podcasts for more Hearst, Welles and 1930s America

The new David Fincher film Mank, a tribute to old Hollywood and an elegant inspection of the studio system, is one of the most lavish original Netflix films ever. California history buffs will find it especially fascinating. Some of the more interesting moments actually have to do with the gubernatorial campaign of Upton Sinclair. And… Read More

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Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History

‘When Harry Met Sally’ and the return of postcard New York (Bowery Boys Movie Club)

The new episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club explores the film When Harry Met Sally and the rich historical context of late 80s New York City. An exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon. I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING. When Harry Met Sally, directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron,… Read More

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Bowery Boys Movie Club Film History

Seven New York City Documentaries to Watch This Week

Looking for a good documentary on New York City history — particularly the 1970s and 80s? Try out one of these recent releases, now available for streaming at home: FEAR CITY: NEW YORK VS. THE MAFIA The FBI takes down the Five Families — New York’s major organized crime syndicates — in this extremely attractive… Read More

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Amusements and Thrills Film History

Come to the Airdome! Over 100 years of outdoor movies in NYC

It may be some time before we all get to truly enjoy the inside of a movie theater again. Hopefully soon! But outdoor movies — in particular, drive-in movies — have had a bit of a renaissance, a socially distanced way to enjoy blockbusters on a big screen. Mommy Poppins has a great round-up of… Read More