July 26 marks the release of Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's newest feature film. Like all of the director's movies, it opens with jazz music and simple credits in the white typeface on black background that he favors. And it has another trait that's been common to most of Allen's work (a recent tendency to shoot in Europe notwithstanding): plenty of New York City flavor.
While the movie's main action takes place in San Francisco—where Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves in with her sister after her life and marriage to a Bernie Madoff–type named Hal (Alec Baldwin) fall apart—the story of Jasmine's past life of luxury is told throughout the film via flashbacks to Manhattan and the Hamptons.
The New York City in the film is a decidedly upscale version: when asked by an aspiring congressman (Peter Sarsgaard) where she's from, Jasmine says “New York: Park Avenue.” When Jasmine's sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) visits with husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), she recommends that they dine at Daniel and Le Cirque. She shops at what appears to be Mauboussin, where she accessorizes for the upcoming Met Gala. Later, Jasmine also makes a stop at the Fifth Avenue Fendi flagship.
As for more accessible attractions, well—Jasmine does send Ginger and Augie to go sightseeing at South Street Seaport when she needs time to plan an event for the Central Park Conservancy.
Even Hal's serial infidelity has a New York flavor. His dates outside of marriage include primo seats at Yankee Stadium and high-class dining at The Four Seasons Restaurant—and at the end of one such rendezvous, he promptly places his lover in a classic New York City yellow cab, which is when Ginger first suspects something is awry in her sister's relationship.
The release of a new Woody Allen flick makes this a fitting time to assemble a list of some positively Woody Allen–style spots you can visit right here in New York City:
One of the most memorable images from Annie Hall is of Allen's character Alvy Singer's noisy home beneath the old Thunderbolt roller coaster, a setting that helped feed Singer's anxiety. While the original Thunderbolt is gone, the Cyclone remains, and is one of America's great wooden roller coasters. And a new roller coaster going by the Thunderbolt name is on the way—though the modern steel-tracked thrill ride, complete with twists and loops, seems to bear little resemblance to the one Allen helped make famous.
Broadway Danny Rose's plot is narrated by comedians dining at this popular Midtown purveyor of truly massive sandwiches that don't fit into any sensible diet. In fact, the deli even sells a sandwich called “The Woody Allen.” It costs about $20, but it is piled with enough corned beef and pastrami to feed the cast of Broadway Danny Rose II: The Secret of the Ooze.*
You don't even see this thoroughfare in Sleeper, but the way the scientists who thaw out Miles (Allen) discuss his origins—“under 'occupation' it says he was part owner of the Happy Carrot Health Food Restaurant on Bleecker Street, wherever that was…”—brings to mind the current exotic aura surrounding Williamsburg, which has become synonymous with the American hipster. Miles' penchant for wheat germ turns out to be worse for his well-being than a good old hot-fudge sundae, but if you still favor his version of health food you can find more than your fair share of veggie fare in the West Village.
Radio City Music Hall
This iconic venue makes a big impression on Joe (Allen) in Radio Days. Narrating, he says that seeing the then–movie palace for the first time was “like entering heaven.” For a kid growing up in Rockaway Beach, the Manhattan attraction is larger than life. Although Radio City Music Hall is no longer a movie theater, the building still hosts concerts and boasts the kind of art deco architectural details that can wow new visitors.
While Manhattan (a movie that Allen originally hated) is filled with black-and-white images of well-known spots in its namesake borough—The Onion's A.V. Club has observed, quite accurately, that the film features “a Gershwin-scored montage that could practically be a tourist-bureau advertisement for NYC”—the best-known shot of the City from this movie is of the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge. Isaac (Allen) and Mary (Diane Keaton) chat on a bench—and, naturally, extol New York's virtues—at the end of a long night together, with this span as their view.
*To our knowledge, no one is planning to make a film by this title.