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The Romantic Big Apple: Ten Films About Love and NYC

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New York City and filmmaking have gone hand in hand since the invention of the movie camera. It is the setting for some of the most well-known films of all time. Action films like Godzilla and King Kong and classics like Midnight Cowboy come to mind. But it’s the romantic movies that NYC is most known for.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s follows the life of playgirl socialite Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn). After befriending her new neighbor Paul (played by George Peppard), he falls for her despite her reservations. When her engagement to a Brazillian diplomat falls through, Paul confronts Holly with his feelings again and she pushes him away. He leaves, upset with her selfish behavior but she has a change of heart, ending the movie with a kiss between them. Holly Golightly’s apartment is featured on the TCM Classic Film Tour

You’ve got Mail (1998)

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Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) are anonymous online pen pals who are unknowingly business rivals, Joe with the big name Fox Bookstores and Kathleen running the bookstore her mother opened when she was a girl. After meeting and clashing in the real world, Joe soon realizes the identity of his secret pen pal was Kathleen all along. He doesn’t reveal to Kathleen his true identity until he recognizes his romantic feelings for her, after which Kathleen admits she loves him too.

Seven Year Itch (1955)

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With his wife and son away on vacation, publishing executive Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) lets his imagination get the best of him. He reads a manuscript by a psychiatrist detailing the “Seven Year Itch,” a psychological condition in which your faithfulness wavers after 7 years of marriage. He then meets his very attractive new upstairs neighbor, a small-time actress (played by Marilyn Monroe) who is in town for commercial work. He spends the next few days with the girl, imagining they are growing closer, despite her being uninterested and unconcerned with him. Richard eventually comes to his senses and he leaves NYC to join his wife and his son on their vacation. This film, of course, includes the iconic scene with Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate, the breeze flowing through her white halter dress.

West Side Story (1961)

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West Side Story is a twist on the classic Romeo and Juliet, set in 1950’s NYC. With a feud forming between the white American Jets and the Puerto Rican immigrant Sharks, the love between Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood ) seems impossible. Despite the adversity they face, Tony and Maria continue to meet in secret and the gangs continue to face off with each other. After a gruesome battle, ending in the deaths of different members of each gang, Tony and Maria decide to run away, only to have fate prevent them from escaping and tragedy strikes in the end.

Moonstruck (1987)

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Loretta is a widower living in Brooklyn Heights who accepts the proposal from her boyfriend Johnny, despite not truly loving him. Johnny leaves soon after to tend to his dying mother in Sicily, asking Loretta (Cher) to track down his younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage ) and invite him to the wedding. Loretta and Ronny soon find themselves in love. This movie features a date at the Lincoln Center, where Loretta and Ronny attend an opera.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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Sally (Meg Ryan) and Harry (Billy Crystal) become friends after crossing paths randomly over the course of their life. Their friendship soon leads to romance after they find themselves slowly falling for each other, despite their insisting that they are just friends.

New York, I Love You (2008)

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This film stretches 11 short films over all five boroughs of NYC. Created by a variety of directors, the film showcases an all-star cast including; Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Blake Lively, Ethan Hawke, Hayden Christensen, and many more, examining different types of love and romance in the Big Apple.

An Affair to Remember (1957)

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After meeting on a cruise ship heading to NYC, Nickie (Cary Grant) and Terry (Deborah Kerr ) agree to meet at the Empire State Building 6 months after they part, once they have established careers and have ended their respective engagements. When Terry is struck by a car and left disabled on the day they are supposed to meet, she refuses to see Nickie, thinking he will not love her after her disability. Nickie tracks her down anyway and after discovering her secret pulls her into an embrace, letting her know he still loves her.

That Touch of Mink (1962)

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Cathy (Doris Day) and Phillip (Cary Grant)  have a chance encounter when Phillip’s car splashes mud on Cathy while on her way to a job interview. Phillip courts Cathy, hoping for a romantic tryst while she insists on holding out for marriage. After a couple failed vacations and a date in which she tries to make Phillip jealous, he admits he loves her and they marry soon after. This movie also has a special treat for baseball fans, with cameos by Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and other iconic NY Yankee team members.

Barefoot in the Park (1967)

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK US 1967 ROBERT REDFORD JANE FONDA Date 1967. Photo by: Mary Evans/PARAMOUNT PICTURE/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10301129) Original Filename: HTRA112_VV230_H.JPG

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK US 1967 ROBERT REDFORD JANE FONDA Date 1967. Photo by: Mary Evans/PARAMOUNT PICTURE/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10301129)

Corie (Jane Fonda)  and Paul (Robert Redford) are newlyweds, coming to terms with their differing views on life while trying to make it work in their Greenwich Village walk-up. One of Corie’s qualms with Paul is that he wouldn’t walk barefoot through Washington Square Park with her. After getting drunk, Paul proves Corie wrong by walking barefoot through the park and then climbing on the roof of their apartment building. When Paul almost falls off the roof, Corie climbs up to help him and they embrace.

If you’re a fan of NYC and the legendary films set in this beautiful city, be sure to look into the TCM Classic Film Tour and other tours offered at On Locations tours.

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