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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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

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 […]