Photo by Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of the Museum of Moving Image
Are you a film buff? Have you been through the illuminated pink doors of the “Museum of the Moving Image ”? If you haven’t, there is still time for you to hop on train and head to Astoria. This happening part of Queens, home to the Museum of the Moving Image, is well underway with its “Fun City Series”.
Put together by curator and film critic J. Hoberman, the series brings to light life in the Big Apple between 1967 and 1975, all shot and based in and about New York City. In the winter of 1965, the then elected Mayor of New York John V. Lindsay, signed an executive order that soon turned the city streets into a movie set.
The Mayor’s Office of Film and Broadcasting were able to cut through the red tape, encouraging filmmakers to film on the city streets. There is even a story behind why the series is called “Fun City” series. The term first appeared in a newspaper column by Dick Schaap, which was in response to the Mayor’s comment, “This is a fun and exciting city even when it’s a struck city.”
The films are representative of the city’s ethnic tension, its glory & despair and social scene amidst a backdrop of transit strikes, the oil embargo of 1973, and gang wars.
We recently had the pleasure of screening Coogan’s Bluff, a 1968 movie directed by Don Siegel. The movie stars Clint Eastwood, whose character comes to New York to escort a young fugitive back to Arizona. The film is shot in shot in Upper Manhattan and refers to the natural landmark “Coogan’s Bluff”, which was the former site of the New York Giants baseball club.
Much of the movie is shot around “The Cloisters” and the beautiful flowerbeds and trees along the paths of Fort Tryon Park. Today Coogan’s Bluff is part of Highbridge Park, which extends from 155th Street in North Harlem to Dyckman Street in Washington Heights/Inwood.
The movie also features scenes of the dramatically changing New York City skyline, the hustle and bustle of the rocking decade, and its vibrant nightlife. Also seen in the movie is the helipad atop historic Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport, a building now being demolished.
With Labor Day around the corner, and with the weather playing spoilt sport catch the last few screenings of The Fun City Series at the Museum of Moving Image this weekend.