5. Volpe Bar
23 Cleveland Place today
This bar located on 23 Cleveland Place in SoHo is where most of the action of the film takes place. The first time we enter the bar, is right after Charlie prays in church. Scorsese wanted to show the contrast between the church (the holiest place in the film) and this bar. The lighting is a dark, reddish color and is filled with drunks, exotic dancers and gangsters. This is what hell is to Charlie and on a deeper level Scorsese.
It is in this bar, that the audience is properly introduced to Johnny Boy, a wild, young, interesting but destructive man. He is the streets, he is everything that Charlie does not want to be, but can not help seeing himself becoming. Numerous scenes play out in the bar, including Johnny Boy threatening the loan shark Michael with a revolver.
The bar no longer exists, as it was replaced by an Italian restaurant named Va Tutto! Sadly the restaurant has closed down as well, and now nothing stands where Scorsese filmed one of his first masterpieces.
Next week, we check out the locations for Scorsese’s 1976 classic Taxi Driver. To find out how much money Johnny Boy still owes him, contact the author @TatteredFedora.