Brooklyn Heights is one of several neighborhoods that have come to epitomize and romanticize New York City life…at least for actors and movie audiences. From Cher’s kicking a can amble along Cranberry Street to the accompaniment of Puccini’s mellifluous chords in Moonstruck (1987) to Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis arm-in-arm stroll down the Promenade in Sweet November (1968), Brooklyn Heights and the like continue to be hot-spots for Hollywood’s image of this city’s heartwarming passions, melodramatic despairs and quirky humors.
Recently, film industry professionals and insiders paid tribute to Brooklyn Heights at a kickoff soiree to their “Celebrating the Century” festival—a year of programs honoring the Brooklyn Heights Association centennial.
Filmmaker and novelist Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy) screened a half-hour-long montage of scenes from famous films shot in the Heights, showing how the auteurs of cinema have lovingly captured the sights and feel of the neighborhood over the past several decades.
Hedges is captivated by the “gorgeous views and beautiful brownstone architecture” which give Brooklyn Heights its vintage charm. He and his colleagues delight in discussing the Heights: its cinematic allure and mise en scène potential. “In the Heights, you can be urban and you can be quaint, and historic, juxtaposed in this little pocket of the city, this town,” Hedges said.
On the other hand, many Brooklyn Heights residents (who usually play unseen extras in these productions) are somewhat irritated by their neighborhood’s burgeoning star appeal and especially annoyed by their streets constant transformation into movie sets.
Hedges and his team tried to explain why ten massive trucks are needed to film the most elementary scene. Among the reasons: individual trucks are needed for cameras, electricians, props, hair and makeup, etc; another, that the Screen Actors Guild requires that actors be provided with somewhere to relax. However, concerns with air pollution (a signature concern of both sides here) motivated some of the actors to share trailers for their scenes of relaxation.
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