Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #29

A Thousand Clowns (dir. Fred Coe, 1965)

07-11 A Thousand Clowns

New York is a city so chock full of eccentrics, to be “conventional” might be the most radical decision of all. This idea is explored in one of the last movies shot on location in the Big Apple before the institution of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting. While some beautiful shots of the New York Public Library, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge are welcome, there are two other landmarks that earn this movie its place on this list: The two lead characters take a ferry ride to Ellis Island, 11 years after it closed and more than 20 years before its reopening as a museum, dilapidated and derelict in its forgotten state. And we are also treated to a look at Lincoln Center while it is still under construction, with paneless windows covered in scaffolding, but unmistakable in its identity. These two scenes remind us that we are looking at a city very much in transition, preparing for its future, and that the mid-60’s were happening in New York as much (if not more) as anywhere else.

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