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Arts and Music

Ready For Your Closeup

Famous movie scenes shot on Long Island

Before Hollywood became ground zero for the movie industry, Queens was among one of the country’s major film production centers. So it’s no surprise that Long Island would provide locations ready to shoot at whether it was legendary silent film icon D.W. Griffith setting up shop in Valley Stream to shoot 1911’s The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of or Paul Robeson swimming ashore to Jones Beach from a steamship as the title character in 1933’s The Emperor Jones.

Recent film shoots have taken place in Old Brookville (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Old Westbury (the forthcoming Hard Sell), while Oheka Castle, the Hamptons and the recently-minted Grumman Studios in Bethpage have been the site of increased location shooting.

1. The Godfather (1972) — Hofstra alumnus Francis Ford Coppola wound up staging one of the film’s bloodiest scenes, Sonny’s fatal ambush at the Jones Beach Causeway toll plaza, at a runway at Mitchel Field around the time that Nassau Coliseum was being constructed. Sands Point Preserve estate homes were also used for mansion shots.

2. Trees Lounge (1996) — Inspired by a Valley Stream bar of the same name, this film written, directed and starring Steve Buscemi, was shot in and around Buscemi’s hometown. (Although The Assembly in Glendale, Queens, served as the stand-in for the actual bar, which had already been sold and renovated into a sports bar.) Furthermore, character in the movie were based on real people the filmmaker/actor knew while he was working at a local gas station and driving an ice cream truck around town for a living at the time.  

3. Citizen Kane (1941) — Orson Welles’ fictional publisher, based on William Randolph Hearst, lived on the fictional Xanadu estate, which can be seen in the opening shot of the movie, which in actuality is Oheka Castle, then known as the Otto Kahn Estate.

4. North By Northwest (1959) — Old Westbury Gardens and Glen Cove provided the locales for this classic Hitchcock thriller, although ironically, the car chase on the highway that was supposed to take place on Long Island was actually shot in California.

5. Goodfellas (1990) — The beach club scene where Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco are chilling out is actually at Atlantic Beach’s Catalina Beach Club.