On Location’s “TCM Classic Film Tour”: The First-Ever New York City Classic Film Tour

New York, New York, it’s a Wonderful Town…

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times this native New Yorker promised herself that she would take her ‘hit list’ of New York City classic film sites and visit them one by one, memorializing them in photos and adding them to her ever growing collection of ‘conquered’ classic movie travel sites. But, being a native New Yorker, I find myself taking this city way too much for granted, always putting off this type of fun excursion until ‘next month’, ‘next spring’ or even ‘next year…when I can find the time.’  And, of course, it’s all very ironic because, in the day-to-day, I find myself hustling past these historic sites without even a second glance and certainly without even a smidgen of thought about their iconic roles in classic film history.

That said, you can probably imagine my thrill when On Location Tours invited me to take their “TCM Classic Film Tour” of New York City! I was finally going to be able to cross New York City off my classic movie ‘to do’ list — and best of all, TCM was going to essentially be my guide! No need for me to do any research, compile any notes, or map out any travel plans. This promised to be a very turn-key and fun experience for any classic movie buff — and it was.

TCM Turner Classic Movies On Location NYC Classic Film Tour

Now, I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so I’m only going give you a relatively small sampling of what’s covered on the tour — but suffice it to say that the tour was quite robust and covered more sites than I’d be able to see on my own in a week! We traversed the city from Columbus Circle, the Upper West Side and Central Park, continuing down through the Upper East Side and Midtown Manhattan — seeing iconic landmarks, big and small, from classic films (old and new) including On The Town, It Should Happen to You, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Seven Year Itch, The Out of Towners, Barefoot in the Park, King Kong, North by Northwest, Spellbound, Ghostbusters, Marathon Man and You’ve Got Mail, plus we caught a glimpse of sites long-gone from movies such as West Side Story and The Apartment.

Overall, the tour was well-thought out and well-planned, and moved along at a good quick pace with plenty of time to enjoy our pit stops.  Our Tour Guide, Jason, was pleasant, informative, well-prepared and patient – and always ready to lend a hand in taking pictures. And kudos to our bus diver who navigated New York City traffic so smoothly!  

TCM On Location NYC Bus Tour Bus

The tour covered more ‘modern’ classics than I anticipated but, notwithstanding, it’s still a good, solid ‘classic’ tour and a fun way for any classic movie fan to spend an afternoon in New York City.

What I loved most about the tour:

The Film Clips: The bus was equipped with numerous television monitors on which we watched classic film clips that included the iconic sites we were preparing to see. Bravo to TCM and On Location Tours for doing this, as this was the perfect way to ‘refresh our memories’ and add some good solid context to the tour.

The Pit Stops:  Bravo again to TCM and On Location Tours for their choice of dedicated pit stops which enabled us to leave the bus and see the sites up close: Zabars (You’ve Got Mail, Manhattan), the Dakota (Rosemary’s Baby), Holly Golightly’s brownstone (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), the Queensboro Bridge (Manhattan), the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Subway Grate (The Seven-Year Itch) and Grand Central Station (North by Northwest, Spellbound).  I must add here that I think I fell in love with New York City all over again by simply gazing out over the East River from our stop under the Queensboro Bridge where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton so famously sat in the film Manhattan.

The Classic Nuances: And, yes, another Bravo here… I particularly enjoyed seeing the more ‘granular’ classic film sites (for lack of a better term) — for example the subway station from On The Town, the apartment building from How to Marry a Millionaire, and the street where Elizabeth Taylor hailed a cab in BUtterfield 8. These little ‘nuances’ were the perfect treat for me, helping to round out the many ‘newer’ classics covered on the tour.

Turner Classic Movies TCM On Location NYC Tour inside bus with On The Town video clip playing

A nice touch: Jason, our Tour Guide, hands out TCM's Now Playing guide, as we are treated to a video clip of Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin singing "New York New York" from On The Town (1949)

If I had to make one small recommendation for the tour going forward (full disclosure: I am a diehard ‘classic-era’ movie fan), it would be to pay even greater homage to the ‘older’ classics (TCM is our lifeline to them, so why not) as well as to New York City’s role in pre-Hollywood film history. That said, even though this classic movie buff would be over-the-top thrilled to see these nuances folded in, this tour is still, without-a-doubt, a very worthwhile tour by any account.

All-in, On Location’s “TCM Classic Film Tour” is a wonderful way to see a ‘wonderful town’ and I would recommend it to any classic film buff, whether native New Yorker or tourist.

One last Bravo for TCM — Thank you for extending your brand into the heart of New York City, giving us classic movie fans a chance to revel in our passions here as well as in Hollywood (TCM Film Festival) and the ‘islands’ (TCM Cruise).

Now for some fun photos:

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The On the Town Subway Station near Columbus Circle:

TCM On Location Tour NYC On the Town film clip

TCM On Location Film Tour Subway from On The Town

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The Dakota apartment building on 72nd Street (Rosemary’s Baby, home of Lauren Bacall, and tragically where John Lennon was shot):

TCM NYC On Location Tour film clip of Dakota from Rosemary's Baby

TCM On Location NYC Film Tour Dakota Building from Rosemary's Baby and John Lennon

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Holly Golightly’s brownstone in Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

TCM On Location NYC Tour Breakfast at Tiffany's Holly Golightly house film clip

TCM On Location NYC Classic Film Tour Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's House

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Sutton Place under the Queensboro Bridge from Woody Allen’s Manhattan:

TCM On Location NYC Queensborough Bridge scene from Woody Allen's Manhattan film clip

TCM On Location NYC Classic Film Tour Queensboro Bridge site from Woody Allen film Manhattan

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The ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Seven-Year Itch Subway Grate on Lexington Avenue:

TCM On Location NYC Tour Marilyn Monroe Subway Grate film clip

TCM On Location NYC Tour Marilyn Monroe Subway Grate from Seven Year Itch

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Grand Central Station, famous for several on location shots, including one from North by Northwest with Cary Grant

CM On Location NYC Tour North by Northwest Grand Central Terminal Scene film clip

TCM On Location Tour NYC Grand Central Terminal

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The “TCM Classic Film Tour” is one of several initiatives that TCM is launching as it prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary in April 2014.

The three-hour “TCM Classic Film Tour” currently runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, at 11:30 AM; $40 per adult and $24 per child; plus a $3 ticket fee; there is a bathroom on the bus.  Click here to purchase tickets: On Location Tours or TCM.com/tours.

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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