Where Harry Met Sally; You've Seen the Movie - Now Take a Trip through New York Cinema History

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 8, 1996 | Go to article overview

Where Harry Met Sally; You've Seen the Movie - Now Take a Trip through New York Cinema History


Byline: GLYN EVANS

PICTURE the moment. A young woman goes to Katz's delicatessen in New York and seeks out one particular table in the centre aisle.

A waitress asks if she wants to order, and the customer begins to act most oddly.

She grabs the sides of the table with both hands, throws back her head, and proceeds, embarrassingly, to mimic one of the most famous scenes in modern cinema.

This, you see, is where Harry met Sally and demonstrated, graphically, that perhaps women sometimes do fake orgasm.

Somehow, however, I don't think it's a performance that should be repeated. Katz's, a gloriously well-worn establishment, does not make a big deal of its movie notoriety. The actual table is marked only with a small, scrawled note and there's a dog-eared cutting by the cash desk. And that's about it.

Katz's was a must-see after it was decided that I would combine a holiday in Manhattan for my wife and myself with a search for movie and TV locations. Armed with a well-thumbed copy of Richard Alleman's excellent The Movie Lover's Guide To New York we set forth, helped little by the city itself. For somewhere with such a cinema tradition - Woody Allen would rather not film anywhere else - New York seems slow to promote itself.

We started with the Circle Line's comprehensive round-Manhattan cruise from Pier 83 which points out countless locations, including Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken, used in On The Waterfront, and the site of Frank Sinatra's birthplace nearby.

Back on dry land we went to Battery Park and another cruise, this time on the Staten Island Ferry, used in Working Girl by Melanie Griffith and only 50 cents return.

Next door to the ferry's Manhattan terminal is the Governor's Island Ferry, seen at the end of An Officer And A Gentleman.

Onwards, then, to the Statue of Liberty. The old girl has played supporting roles in countless movies, including On The Town, and Superman.

On Ellis Island next door - now a museum - young Vito Corleone was given his surname and passed a period of quarantine before becoming The Godfather.

We next strolled along Brooklyn Bridge's boardwalk as did Sinatra and Co in On The Town. John Travolta also crossed the bridge in Saturday Night Fever and it featured in Sophie's Choice. On the other side we visited pretty Brooklyn Heights. From its fine walkway, Cher gazed at the night sky in Moonstruck, and it also featured in Three Days Of The Condor and Prizzi's Honor.

ACROSS the river we saw Wall Street, where Working Girl worked and Charlie Sheen was manipulated by Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko.

We visited Katz's, on run-down East Houston Street, on the way to Washington Square in Greenwich Village, scene of far too many movies and television shows to mention. Notably Jane Fonda and Robert Redford went Barefoot In The Park here, and Harry was left by Sally.

On the journey back we paused at the Chelsea Hotel, a grotty-looking place most notable for where Sid And Nancy fatally parted company.

Then it was some retail therapy at Macy's, setting for A Miracle On 34th Street, before we took the short walk to the Empire State Building, which provided the final scenes for King Kong, An Affair To Remember, and the sloppy Sleepless In Seattle.

We walked to the wonderful Grand Central Station, and remembered the murder scene in Witness, a getaway scene in North By Northwest, and so many others.

Then back to a piece of New York literary history, The Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, where we were staying. Dorothy Parker and fellow Round Tablers held court here, and the film Mrs Parker And The Vicious Circle used a set based on the Rose Room restaurant. …

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