If you wind New York City's film clock back thirty years and about three weeks, then you'd find yourself in a city that's quite different from present day New York. While there aren't enough words in the world to cover and describe all of the changes that thirty years have brought to this city, one thing that hasn't and will never change is this: nostalgia rings true.
Released on February Seventh, 1986, Hannah and Her Sisters is regarded by some as Woody Allen's best film. The film features strong performances by marquee actors such as Mia Farrow (Allen's spouse at the time), Michael Crane, Dianne Weist, as well as a few smaller roles by Julie Kavner (who would go on to play the voice of Marge Simpson), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (only a few years before Seinfeld).
While Allen would win the Academy Award that year for Best Screenplay and Crane and Weist would win for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, in reality, the real star of the film, as always, is New York City.
When you watch Hannah and Her Sisters, especially those scenes filmed in Soho, you can't help but notice how much of downtown was yet to be developed by the middle of the eighties. Where Soho today carries the look and feel of a crown jewel ––– with galleries, shops, and domestic as well as international tourists aplenty; Soho in 1986 looked, in essence, deserted. Newspapers blow across empty streets; graffiti-adorned buildings stand large, tattered, and mostly unoccupied; and piles of scrap construction pieces, wood, metal, and wires occupy a street corner here and there.
Yet, while the Soho scenes illustrate how much the City has changed over the past thirty years, those scenes that take place uptown, particularly, in the Upper East Side, mostly function as a celebratory gallery of all that made –– – and still makes ––– New York unique. Sometimes it's specific locations: The Carlyle (35 East 76th Street) and and St. Regis Hotels (2 East 55th Street), and a townhouse at 8 East 62nd Street ––– which, oh by the way, is currently on the market for $84 million dollars: Courtesy of The Modlin Group – 8 East 82nd Street.
Other times it's just scenes of Allen's character, Mickey, strolling through Central Park; the East Side up near 100th Street; and though we can't quite verify this one, we think at one point he walks out of The Black and Whites, a set of townhouse walk-ups located at 527-541 East 72nd Street, just east of York Avenue.
Whether you watch Hannah and Her Sisters for the New York City retrospective, the award-winning dialogue, or just as a casual Allen fan, you're unlikely to be disappointed. If nothing else, it may bring up at least one interesting question: what might the next thirty years bring to our city?