Inspired by that glimpse of the old, arty SoHo (and my maddening search for an implausibly fleeting bit of street art that occurred between the eras of Basquiat and Banksy), I turned once more to Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," a classic Allen film (like countless other Allen films) that acts as a visual love letter to New York City. Sure, its still rife with signature excesses from the director in question, but it remains a keeper across the board for a variety of reasons. That it captured a taste of certain neighborhoods that no longer exude the same vibe today is only a tiny reason to cherish it.
Released only a year before Spalding Gray's "Swimming to Cambodia"" (and, for that matter, one year after Martin Scorsese's Soho-centric "After Hours"), "Hannah and Her Sisters" visits SoHo to find the film's lovestruck protagonist Elliot (played masterfully by Michael Caine) frantically pursuing Lee (played by Barbara Hershey prior to those collagen-injections) around the neighborhood. The SoHo of 1986 appears in all its weathered, rusty and comparatively grubby glory as Michael Caine sprints breathlessly through it.
Not that I was expecting to spot it, but that damned stencil does not make a cameo (but trust me ---- I will find further evidence of it). The only thing that's continued to bug me after all these years is the fact that Woody places Elliot and Lee in SoHo, and then has Lee suggest repairing to the Pageant Bookshop, saying it's "only a couple of blocks from here." This is an infinitesimally tiny point, but being that the old Pageant Bookshop (now the Central Bar) was on East 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, that ain't exactly a hop, skip and a jump from the heart of SoHo, where their conversation takes place. Like I said, it's a tiny quibble, but for a native, pedantic New Yorker, it's a glaring oversight (I had a similar grievance with Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam.")
In any case, bitches aside, it's still a lovely slice of the old SoHo (and of the Pageant, for that matter). Enjoy.