Movies as urban time capsules, redux.

Three years ago, I discovered and linked to a fun new website called Scouting New York. The site, run by a movie location scout named Nick Carr, has lots and lots of photographs, as well as lots of interesting historical information — but what caught my eye initially was the three albums he posted, comparing how certain locations looked when they were photographed in Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Taxi Driver (1976) and Ghostbusters (1984) with how they look now.

Since then, Carr has posted lots of other interesting photo albums, but nothing like those three albums — until now. Last week, he posted part one of a two-part series on Annie Hall (1977), and today, he posted part two. Some of the locations were difficult to track down, but he digs up some fascinating information on, say, that house under the roller coaster on Coney Island (it was razed in 2000, and the lot where it stood remains vacant), or the racquet club that used to stand on a couple of piers near Wall Street (it was demolished in 2002, but the piers still show up on Google Maps). It’s especially fun to see how the trees have grown in some shots, e.g.:



Incidentally, in my earlier post, I linked to my capsule review of Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), a fascinating (and occasionally NSFW) documentary on how the movies have, inadvertently or otherwise, captured the changing fortunes of certain buildings and neighbourhoods. Since then, the film has been posted to YouTube in segments.

Some of my favorite bits include the section on the Bradbury building (D.O.A., Blade Runner, etc.), which you can see between the 5:30 and 10:15 marks, here …

… and the section on Bunker Hill (Kiss Me Deadly, The Omega Man, etc.), which starts at about 11:25 here …

… and continues to about the 3:15 point in the next segment:

With any luck, someone will compile a similar set of now-and-then images (whether via still photos or video) of Vancouver some day!

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About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).