10. Midwood

Vitagraph

The Vitagraph Company was the most prolific American film company around the turn of the 20th century. It was opened in 1897 by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith at 1277 East 14th Street, moving to Midwood from Manhattan’s Nassau Street. The company was the first to use the stop-motion technique in its film The Humpty Dumpty Circus, and it agreed to sell Thomas Edison its most popular films for distribution. In 1909, Vitagraph distributed the first film adaptation of Les Miserables, and during the 1910s, it released perhaps the first feature film, the first aviation film, and World War I propaganda films. Many film stars lived in Midwood, including “Vitagraph Girl” Florence Turner, vaudeville actor Maurice Costello, Norma Talmadge, and comedian Larry Semon (who directed the silent film The Wizard of Oz). In 1925, Warner Bros. purchased Vitagraph, and studio operations were moved to Hollywood in 1939. Part of Vitagraph’s Midwood studios was purchased by NBC Television in 1952, and shows and programs that originated at Studios 1 and 2 included Peter PanKraft Music HallHullabalooThe Sammy Davis Jr. ShowThe Cosby Show, and a few episodes of Saturday Night Live.

After the success of the Vitagraph Company, however, Midwood remained a popular setting for Brooklm film locations, which is perhaps unsurprising given that Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach, Didi Cohn, and Wentworth Miller all attended Midwood High School. The school was where the talent show took place in the 2005 film The Squid and the Whale. The 1996 film The First Wives Club, starring figures like Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker, takes place at Brooklyn College, or Middleburg College in the film. In Malcolm X, Denzel Washington plays the title character and appears at East 19th Street in one scene. Woody Allen’s film The Purple Heart of Cairo, which follows Tom Baxter who leaves a fictional film and enters the real world, has its interior film scenes shot at Kent Theater at 1170 Coney Island Avenue. Additionally, the retail shop The Leading Male on East 12th Street and Kings Highway provided the disco uniforms for Saturday Night Fever. A handful of films including Sophie’s Choice and The Pallbearer were shot just north of Midwood in the Victorian enclave of Ditmas Park.

Filmed in Brooklyn: Virtual Talk

Coney Island Boardwalk dusk 1

Keep exploring the film history of Brooklyn and discover more iconic Brooklyn film locations on February 14 at 12 p.m. as Margo Donohue discusses her new book, Filmed in Brooklyn. This live-streamed virtual event is free for Untapped New York Insiders. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today and gain access to a full calendar of in-person and virtual experiences!

Next, check out Filming Locations for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon!