New York Film Locations

 





otsoNY in 2009: Who’s That Girl

9 October 2019

Besides the handful of classic films, otsoNY creator Mark Rogers had decided early on to include some less well-known titles, of which included ‘Interview’, ‘Unfaithful’, ‘Don't Say a Word’ and the 1987 screwball comedy ‘Who's That Girl’ starring Madonna. “I was a big music fan of Madonna during the 1980s,” explained Mark, “and thought ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ wasn’t all that bad, so it, kind of made sense to include ‘Who’s That Girl’ in the first batch of films, especially as I had ventured all of the way up to Manhattan Valley, just to photograph the building at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 105th Street.” It was at this location where Madonna’s character Nikki Finn assists her chaperon, Loudon Trott during a meeting with a strict co-op board to secure a rental agreement for Loudon and soon-to-be wife, Wendy Worthington which eventually ends in chaos, and sees Madonna run from the property at 330 Riverside Drive and West 105th Street followed closely behind by a wild cougar. “It wasn’t a great film, and in fact, it bombed at the box office, grossing only $2.5 million in its first week, with its final domestic total being about $7.3 million on a budget between $17 million and $20 million,” explains Mark, “but I still thought it was worth including, if only for this location that I didn’t actually spend very long looking at, as the weather was unreliable and rain was imminent, but I knew from research that no other movie location website had even bothered to mention the film.”


Film Poster: Who's That Girl

The mansion at 330 Riverside Drive was originally built in 1901, and while it shares many of the design elements of the row houses on West 105th Street, it does not merely reflect their facades. Decoration is restricted here to the enhancement of the openings, while large surfaces are left unadorned. Set on a basement of rusticated limestone, the upper floors are composed of buff-coloured brick and are trimmed with beautifully finished and carved limestone. The richly ornamented recessed doorway, located in a central section of the main facade facing West 105th Street, is surmounted by large console brackets supporting a stately balcony. Three tiers of triple windows in this central section are doubly enframed by smooth limestone piers and by quoins, and crowned at the top by an arch with a large cartouche. Above this arch there is a balustrade capped in turn by a pyramidal roof with crestings. To the east of this impressive central section is a four-bay facade, each level distinguished by a particular ornamental element. At the basement level, the windows are covered with grilles; at the second floor, delicate metal balconies ornament the windows. At the third level, a balustrade is supported on paired console brackets and the windows have broken-arch pediments. A mansard roof with arched dormers and simple cresting appears above the dentiled roof cornice.”


The mansion at 330 Riverside that was featured in Who's That Girl


330 Riverside at the corner of West 105th Street

This selective use of ornament underscores the care taken in every aspect of the design of a building such as this to create a coherent and dignified whole. At the east end of the facade, acting as a transition between the row houses and the mansion, there is a single story glazed conservatory, set above the basement and crowned by a broken-arch pediment. The single bay to the west of the entrance displays many of the same design elements as the area to the east, and the facade facing Riverside Drive also repeats the same motifs. It differs only in the second floor windows which have coloured glass panels.


Madonna on the set of Who's That Girl

Filming began in New York in October 1986 and continued until March 1987, often with crowds of onlookers trying to get close to Madonna, whenever she stepped on the set, and who had been happy to sign autographs for the children of the crew, joining in with the wisecracking and when not busy, would dance around with a boom box. When shooting commenced, Madonna would ask for five minutes to study the script and the scene they were shooting; her idea of preparing for the part was not studied. For example, before a scene in which she needed to appear out of breath, she did a series of push-ups before going on set. Always punctual and professional on the set, Madonna felt that her first takes were perfect and refused to appear for second or third takes.


Madonna on the set of Who's That Girl

In December 1986, production was halted for a few days due to snowfall in New York City. Madonna decided to utilise the time by working on the film's soundtrack and her next concert tour. While recording the title track, Madonna decided to change the film's name from ‘Slammer’ to ‘Who's That Girl’ as she felt it to be a better title. Filming commenced in January 1987, where the scene involving a cougar was shot. During the second take, the cougar accidentally escaped from the cage, resulting in filming being paused for a few hours. By February 1987, Madonna's scenes were already shot although she proceeded to linger on the set to watch Foley and his team work. Filming ended in March 1987, with post-production continuing till July 1987. During the development of the starting credits, Madonna asked Foley if they could have a cartoon figure of her character introducing the film credits. Foley liked the idea, and Warner enlisted cartoonist April March to create the cartoon. Other locations in New York included Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, a property on East 94th Street and the sidewalk near to The Met museum.


Click HERE for a full list of film locations from Who's That Girl

In the next article of this series, Mark talks about the 90’s thriller, ‘Sliver’ and its central character, Morgan Court on Madison Avenue.





 


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