The Big Apple On Screen: 11 Films Starring New York City

As the heat of summer in the city settles in, refresh your love for New York with some of our favorite films – all of which love Manhattan just as much as we do.

 “An Affair to Remember” (1957)

Safe to say that most of us have come to associate the Empire State Building with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and while we have nothing against Sleepless in Seattle, it’s 1957’s An Affair to Remember that first turned the tower into a global symbol of romance. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr’s tragic missed connection on the 102 nd floor is at once hopeful, romantic, and tragic—basically, New York City in a nutshell.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) will forever be remembered standing elegantly at the corner of 5 th Avenue and 57 th Street, but the film’s other iconic locations—from Central Park’s Conservatory Water to the New York Public Library—are a beautiful backdrop as Holly and Paul’s (played byGeorge Peppard) love story unfolds.

“Taxi Driver” (1976)

Martin Scorsese’s beloved Robert De Niro starrer paints a dark picture of life after the Vietnem War—and of New York City. But as De Niro’s Travis Bickle drives through the city boroughs to battle his insomnia (and depression), the grit of 1970s Times Square and the East Village now serves as a poignant reminder of the city as it once was.

“Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)

Kramer vs. Kramer’s devastating portrayal of young divorce in New York City not only swept the Academy Awards that year (and earned Meryl Streep her first trophy), but painted a picture of Manhattan living that captured the beauty of the island despite the film’s tragedy—we dare you to stroll through Central Park’s Mall without thinking about it.

“Manhattan” (1979)

Of Woody Allen’s many, many, many odes to New York, Manhattan is more of a love story about the city than any of the director’s other films. As Allen’s character romances both a young Mareil Hemingway—who earned an Oscar nom for her performance—as well as Diane Keaton, the viewer falls for the gorgeous black-and- white scenes of Greenwich Village, the Guggenheim, and Sutton Square, looking onto the Queensboro Bridge.

“Ghostbusters” (1984)

The Ghostbusters headquarters has been immortalized on film, in video games—it’s even featured in a Lego set. But nothing brings cinephiles as much joy as catching a glimpse of the building in real life. Located at the corner of North Moore and Varick in Tribeca, Hook and Ladder Company 8 (yes, it’s still operating) isn’t done with it’s big-screen career just yet: It’s set to appear in this summer’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot.

“Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985)

There are two foolproof cures for any bored housewife: Madonna, and Manhattan. In 1985’s classic Desperately Seeking Susan, Rosanna Arquette gets a queen-of- cool-inspired makeover—and gets into a bit of trouble, too—as she follows the adventures of Madge as she traipses through locales such as Battery Park and the East Village—and a brand of St. Marks Place we long to revisit.

“Working Girl” (1988)

Few films have portrayed the many faces of New York as effectively as Working Girl. Melanie Griffith’s secretary from Staten Island ditches the ferry and her big hair for her boss’ chic clothes and lifestyle (and handsome Harrison Ford boyfriend), and takes charge of her life and Manhattan. As she commands the businessmen of Wall Street and charms Ford at the South Street Seaport, viewers fall for the working world of downtown New York in the late ‘80s. The 1988 Best Picture nominee stands as one of director Mike Nichols’ finest works and an ode to the city and its ever-shifting waters.

“Big” (1988)

While some may always associate Big with the famed FAO Schwarz scene, we will forever remember the Tom Hanks favorite for giving us real estate envy. When the newly-adult Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) earns a big- money promotion at his job at the toy company, he does what any respectable New Yorker would do, and spends the money on an amazing Soho loft. Located on Grand Street between Greene and Wooster, we’d move in tomorrow—trampoline and all.

“When Harry Met Sally” (1989)

Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner nailed romance in New York in the cherished will-they- won’t-they comedy. Witty banter aside, the film’s most memorable supporting character is Manhattan itself—from strolls through Central Park to jokes at the Temple of Dendur in the Met to romantic shots of Greenwich Village, no movie has made us long for New York (or love) more.

“Ghost” (1990)

More real estate envy. Sam (Patrick Swayze) and Molly (Demi Moore) may have only gotten to share their artist’s loft on Prince Street temporarily. With those high ceilings and monstrous windows, it’s no surprise that Sam stuck around in the afterlife. 

To see more of our favorite films, head to The Roxy Cinema! In partnership with Posteritati, The Roxy is proud to present complimentary screenings of classic New York films (including the aforementioned “Big” showing on June 4th) every Saturday and Sunday, starting at 4:30pm following our brunch buffet. For more information, visit our events calendar.