With NYC as the backdrop of a movie, it definitely adds more flavour and oomph to the storyline. The multicultural and diversity of its ethnicities and vibrant ambience provide the almost right ingredients to a movie set-up. 

A hard core movie buff, I can delve non stop on the subject of movies. For the purpose of blogging, however, I would only select some of my favourite movies shot in NYC. Having watched the movies, I too have an extended connection with them by the fact that I had lived in the city for seven years (1993-2000).

SERPICO (1973)

The one movie shot in NYC that made a huge impact on me when I was young was Serpico (1973). I believe that was when I got acquainted to NYC on a big screen. Serpico is based on a true story of a policeman named Frank Serpico and Al Pacino is in the lead role. His fights against corruption activities in New York Police Department (NYPD) were faced by many challenges and life threatening consequences. 

Nevertheless, Serpico is downright adamant to expose the wrongdoings and, subequently, he leaves the police force and migrates to Switzerland. This is a powerful movie on corruption activities of the authority (NYPD) and the act of one man to halt it. Since then, NYPD has improved on its positive image and is associated with the branding of NYC itself. The scenes of the Serpico movie were shot in NYC, including the 7th Avenue where I had stayed for my vacation recently.  


The Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world, has its fair share of love story movies shot on the location.


Who could ever forget the movie “An Affair To Remember” (1957)? The lovers in the movie are Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It truly is a classic love story and has been remembered decades later. The lovers promise to meet up again after 6 months of their first encounter. Cary Grant is waiting on the deck of Empire State Building. Deborah Kerr reaches the location and, looking up at Empire State Building she is knocked down by a car. Her leg is amputated and she refuses to meet with the love of her life. The rest of the story, you can get a DVD to complete it. Nice movie for the romantic at heart.


Sleepless in Seattle has its final scene shot at the famous Empire State Building. The Hollywood loving couple, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is simply awesome in their romantic roles. Journalist Meg Ryan is tasked to track down Tom Hanks, a widower whose wife just passed away. He receives publicity through a radio talk and female listeners are swooning over him. Tom Hanks and son Joshua are on the deck of Empire State Building waiting to meet up Meg Ryan; they leave when there is no sign of her. 

Empire State Building — where love stories are made

Why do they have the meeting on the same location of “An Affair To Remember” movie? Meg Ryan watches the movie (see how powerful the movie is) and she picks the exact location for the meeting. She arrives on the deck and sees a backpack left by Joshua on the deck. The father and son return for the backpack. All good things come to an end with this movie.


Again, the romantic reel couple, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, make an unforgettable movie (for me, at least) “You’ve Got Mail” in NYC. The storyline is about the battle of organisations — a big book store vs small book store. 

Ultimately, the owner of the small bookstore, Meg Ryan, has to concede to defeat. The movie is about the survival of the fittest in a consumer driven economy of NYC. This is the part that I am still unhappy until today. Why do movies have to feature Tom Hanks (a male normally) to be the powerful individual in big organisations. It would be nice to have Meg Ryan instead for the reverse role. Let’s witness the female leadership in a big organisation. Anyways, my two cents about the movie.

The busy streets and daily lives of NYC inhabitants are nicely captured in the movie. Living here before, I could connect with the scenes, for example, with Meg Ryan buying flowers along the busy streets. Also, the typical small space of eating places in NYC. The Central Park with its lush green ambience and I especially love the ending part of the movie which was shot in the Upper West of Central Park. 

The lush green environment of Central Park in autumn


You ladies out there! Have you seen the Serendipity movie? If not, you’d better catch up on it. It is a cupid love story acted by John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. Always a romantic at heart, I watched it on the big screen when it was first premiered. I have been replaying the DVD until today. Most of the movie scenes were shot in NYC. I must say that the portion at the ice-skating rink in Central Park is the most romantic scene. 

I love the final scene when John Cusack is lying on the skating rink, thinking about the girl whom he had met only once five years earlier on. He has no idea on how else to track her down after so many efforts at it. In addition, he has just cancelled his wedding to another woman hours earlier. 

Central Park Skating Rink with the Essex House landmark

Simultaneously, the feelings is mutual with Kate Beckinsale. Precisely, she too is at the same location where they had their first date at the skating rink, overlooking the Essex House landmark in Central Park. So guys, I went to the exact same spot on 8 October, 2018 to take the picture of the Serendipity scene, breathing the air of love. I could feel the romantic vibes surrounding the venue.

Central Park Skating Rink

RANSOM (1996)

The movie Ransom was also shot in NYC with Mel Gibson and Rene Russo as the core actors. The movie is about Mel Gibson’s son being kidnapped and the kidnappers demanding a ransom from him. I went to the same spot in Central Park where the scene of his son being kidnapped was shot. It was by a pond and this part of Central Park is the most beautiful segment, I would say. I used to frequent this place to do my exercise regime during my stint here. My daughters too took to rollerblading in this part of the park.

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The pond and fountain in Central Park where the Ransom movie scene was taken.


Who else can fit into the “devil” woman better than Meryl Streep herself. The powerful fashion magazine editor, Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep), is a diva personality to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Fashion is a huge industry in NYC, besides Paris and Milan. 

Anne Hathaway who has just graduated from college is looking for a job in NYC. She is hired by Meryl Streep and, henceforth, she is learning the art of aggressive leadership. In the initial stage of the movie, Anne Hathaway dresses up as a typical college graduate in New York. The income gap of the New York City dwellers is big; it is like the very rich (displayed by Meryl Streep), the rich, the medium rich and the poor (Anne Hathaway). Many avenues of NYC were being shot in this movie.  


Again, this movie has earned extra points by yours truly. Jennifer Lopez is good in this movie and her love fling, Ralph Fiennes, is equally romantic. This is so like the Bollywood movies. The hero does not know that Jennifer Lopez is one of the maids of the hotel. The respective hotel is the famous upscale Waldorf Astoria in real life. Currently, the hotel is undergoing a massive renovation. It is expected to be habited in 2020. The business model is whereby a part of the hotel will be for hotel guests and another into apartments. Waldorf Astoria is landmark in many upscale movies made in NYC, including Coming To America (1988) with Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem.  

The most memorable part of the Maid in Manhattan movie is the Central Park scenes; Jennifer and Ralph walking together in the park with its exhilaratingly beauty, especially during autumn. I went to the same location of the movie recently. Again, I visualised the loving couple of the movie and took pictures with the hubby. Ehmmm… The end result does not look very promising as the one in the movie. 

Another section of the Central Park with a beautiful ambience and where the movie was shot.


Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd establishes a ghost catching business. The comedy movie was a big hit then. Who would forget the catch phrase of the movie’s song — “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” The famous song was performed by Ray Parker Jr. 

The location of the movie is a building in Central Park West. Some of the scenes were shot in Central Park too. Whilst walking along Central Park West, I snapped pictures of buildings surrounding the area, including the Ghostbusters location. 

The building where the Ghostbusters movie was shot.


Altogether, the Godfather movies and its sequels were premiered in 1972, 1974 and 1990. Francis Ford Coppola becomes a household name where the Don Corleone mafia is concerned. The novelist, Mario Puzo, is also given recognition for his writings. 

The Godfather movies had scenes shot in Brooklyn as well as the other parts of NYC. Chinatown in downtown Manhattan is one of the many locations. Interestingly, the specific location is Mott Street where I used to buy my groceries when I was living in NYC. The Chinese population is huge in NYC, after Los Angeles and San Francisco.  According to the 2014 Census, the Chinese is the second biggest immigrants in NYC after the Dominican Republic. 

Chinatown in Downtown NYC
The streets of Chinatown in NYC

Back to the Godfather movies, even though I love the movies, but there’s nothing like reading the  novels. No offense here, especially to the men out there. “Let’s burn the mattresses, says the Godfather.”


Movie stars love to live in NYC to ensure of their privacy — no autograph seekers and fans surrounding them. I remember Harrison Ford walking passed by me in the streets of NYC circa 1995. I was frozen for a while, but behaving like any New Yorker, I gave him a simple nod and walked away. At that juncture, I wanted to have his autograph badly, but nope, the NYC culture does not allow it. It’s not cool. Sigh…

 The movie stars occupy huge and luxurious apartments, especially in Central Park West. Sadly, an ex-Beatles singer, John Lennon, was gunned down in front of his apartment by his own fan. His wife, Yoko Ono, still lives in the same building until today. I have come across abodes of Katherine Hepburn in mid-town, Demi Moore and Jerry Seinfeld along Central Park West.

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John Lennon’s apartment is on the topmost floor with the balconies
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Many movie stars live in this building including Jerry Seinfield (a true New Yorker).

Finally, the city of New York is truly a city of entertainment and movie makings. The melting pot of NYC, which had existed since 1600s, has created a multi cultural diversity and consumed the talents of the many races in almost all areas, including the entertainment world. 

Thank you for reading folks. All pictures were taken by yours truly.

Noorul Ainur Mohd. Nur

A Malaysian who is passionate about economic development, culture and technology.

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