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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Film Fest Friday-Ten Retro Movies That Celebrate New York (and a Recipe)

I am a somewhat reluctant urbanite.  While there are plenty of upsides to living just outside Manhattan: delicious food, easy public transportation, myriad entertainments, lots of gorgeous parks for dog walking, and dozens of stores to shop in. I often find myself dreaming of a life in a country cottage.  Still when I was a child I always dreamed of living in New York, sometimes I even fibbed and told strangers that I did live there.  To my mind it wasn't really a lie since the moment I grew up I planned to move to the big city.  That is in fact what happened as I married a man from Brooklyn, but by the time I had made the move to the city permanent my tastes had changed and I found myself longing for a more rural home.  However, jobs and commitment's and so forth have conspired to make me a city dweller for the foreseeable future and I do love many things about the city.  From the friends I've made through blogging I realize that many people dream of visiting New York, and its not always possible.  For them I'd suggest a New York film fest, personally I think New York often looks better on film anyway.  Of course if you can visit in person  you definitely should, there is nothing else quite like New York. Here are ten of my favorite older movies that to my mind celebrate the glory that is New York:

1) It, 1927-This silent film stars the incomparable Clara Bow and its a charming romance between a department store shop girl and her wealthy boss.  There is a fun sequence when the two go on a date to Coney Island.   I think this is a great starter silent film for those who are not used to watching them, its very entertaining and the plot is easy to follow.  

2) My Man Godfrey 1936-Another romantic comedy quite similar to It about a wealthy heiress and her romance with a homeless man during the great depression.  There are some really impressive sets in fancy New York style hotels.

2) How to Marry a Millionaire 1953-This famous film in which three young models played by Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grabble rent an exclusive Manhattan apartment in hopes of attracting wealthy suitors has some lovely shots of the girls fancy New York apartment.  My  pick for the best line in the film is when Bacall's suitor tells her "your a hamburger and onions dame and wont admit it."  

3)  The Seven Year Itch 1955-This movie, about a middle aged married man whose wife and child depart Manhattan for the summer, leaving him alone in their apartment where he becomes friendly with a beautiful upstairs neighbor, Monroe, is full of iconic New York scenes.  The most famous is of course Marilyn standing on the subway grate, but I also love the interior shots of Richard's apartment, such a pretty building and it reminds me of the town houses I walk past in the west village every day on my way to and from work.

4) Breakfast at Tiffany's 1961-Of course no movie is more New York then this story about a Manhattan party girl with a love of the jewelry icon.

5) The Odd Couple 1968This is definitely one of the funniest films every made. I love all the shots in Times Square, back when it was in its seedy state rather then its current sanitized one. 

6)  A New Leaf 1971-Including this  movie one the is a little big of a cheat, since quite a lot of it takes place in Long Island, but its a very funny and under appreciated film.  I love the part where Walther Mathau's character, Henry Graham, a spendthrift who has run through his inheritance drives through Manhattan saying good bye to all the exclusive places he frequented while wealthy.

6) The Sunshine Boys 1975-This one is my favorite film on the list.  It is such a sweet and funny movie about two aging vaudevillians, one who who has moved to New Jersey and one who lives in a crumbling Manhattan hotel. 

 8)The Muppet's Take Manhattan 1984-Your never too old to watch Kermit and the Gang take on Manhattan.

9 and 10)  Ghost Busters 1 and 2 1984 and 1989-Chock full of iconic New York land marks from the Public library, to the Metropolitan, to the Statue of Liberty these are the movies that made me want to live in New York when I was a kid.

Of course during any film fest you need some sustenance.  The natural New York food choice would be pizza, but if you are going to watch all these films you will have to get started early so breakfast is in order.  Of course you could just go with classic lox and bagels, but I love this twist on that dish from the Smitten Kitchen, basically its savory bagel casserole, like over night french toast with bagels.

New York Breakfast Casserole (some how I deleted the picture from my phone,
so here is a photo from the cookbook)

8 cups  plain or seeded bagels, cut into 1-inch cubes (5-6 bagel shop bagels)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into irregular small bits
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced 
1 1/2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half i
8 large eggs
2 1/3 cups milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Capers, for serving
Lox, for serving
The night before you want to eat the casserole place the bagel cubes in a large bowl and mix in the cream cheese bits and the onions and tomatoes. Pour into a buttered casserole. Whisk eggs with milk, salt and pepper together in the same large bowl.  Pour egg mixture over the bagels. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from the fridge, uncover and bake on a tray or cookie sheet in the middle of the oven until casserole has puffed, turned golden brown and cooked through. (A knife inserted into the center of the casserole and rotated slightly should not release any liquid.) This will take 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
Serve in big scoops with a sprinkle of capers and a side of lox or bacon.


  1. What an awesome post, dear lady. I love that you included a Muppets movie amongst this list of time honoured classics. I've always been a Muppets fan and seeing them here really made me smile. Fabulous list and super tasty looking recipe - big thanks for both!

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Oooooh, the seven year itch! I need to watch that again!


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