New York Film Locations

New York Film Location Books

Title: Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies
Author: James Sanders
Paperback: 498 pages
Published: 2001

Black and white photographs throughout, with a good balance of information about New York and the films made there.

Celluloid Skyline (New York and the Movies) was edited by James Sanders, who also produced the fabulous hardback “Scenes from the City”. This illustrated publication holds a vast score of rare and unusual production images and includes references to films such as 42nd Street, Rear Window, King Kong, Dead End, Naked City, Ghostbusters, Annie Hall, Taxi Driver and Do the Right Thing. Published in 2001 during the horrific events of September 11, the author includes a personal note: “As Celluloid Skyline was on its way to the printers, the events of September 11, 2001, irrevocably altered the skyline of lower Manhattan. This book, of course had been completed sometime earlier, and in the harsh and haunting light of those terrible events, its words and images may in places take on a new and entirely unintended significance. After due consideration, the author and publisher have chosen to proceed with publication on schedule, in the hope that the book may in some way help to further an understanding of why the New York skyline – in both image and reality – has had such profound and personal meaning for people all around the world, and why – more now, perhaps, than ever before – it has been cherished so deeply, by so many.”

As James Sanders shows in this deeply original work, the dream city of the movies may hold the secret to the allure and excitement of the actual place - Here are the cocktail parties and power lunches, the subway chases and opening nights, the playground rumbles and rooftop romances. Here is an invented Gotham, a place designed specifically for action, drama, and adventure, a city of bright avenues and mysterious side streets, of soaring towers and intimate corners, where remarkable people do exciting, amusing, romantic, scary things. Sanders takes us from the tenement to the penthouse, from New York to Hollywood and back again, from 1896 to the present, all the while showing how the real and mythic cities reflected, changed, and taught each other.

Black and white photographs are framed by neatly worded content, expressing opinions and detailed knowledge. Many of the images are from Sanders's decade-long research in studio archives and private collections around the country. This book, which studies the relationship of the city and film is much like “Scenes from the City” as it celebrates the extraordinary heritage of location filmmaking in America’s largest and most cinematic city.

otsoNY Comments: Celluloid Skyline is full on content and offers the reader so much more than many of the New York film location books, combining historical substance with references to the early era of films right up until the late 1990’s, this publication is an essential coffee-table addition. Unfortunately, where is does fall short is in the area of referencing actual geographic film locations. It will mention a film title and include an image, but often leave out the all-important location information, opting only to give reference to an district of Manhattan. Although it can be forgiven for this, as it was produced long before the World Wide Web was littered with film location references and on-set images. The author’s only source of information came from old newspaper articles, production files and photographs.


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