22 NOVEMBER 5, 2020 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
‘The Sitter’ fi lmed in Woodhaven 10 years ago this month
PRESENTED BY THE WOODHAVEN CULTURAL AND
Woodhaven has been the scene of several
fi lm shoots but one of the most memorable,
even if the fi nished product was
not, took place 10 years ago this month.
“The Sitter” was a comedy starring Jonah Hill, but
the big news was that they were going to be fi lming
at the Forest Park Carousel which, at that time, had
been shuttered for two years and its future was in
It aff orded residents of Woodhaven their fi rst
glance at the beloved ride since the end of the 2008
season but with rumors swirling that the city was
planning to dismantle and sell it, that excitement
The scene was a confrontation between the young
sitter and the children he’s watching and the bad
guys, with a battle taking place on the moving carousel
itself. Residents were not allowed near the set,
though several of us got as close as we could to see
what was happening.
When they fi lmed the fi nal battle, they had crew
members moving the carousel slowly by hand. We
were told by a crew member that they had to do that,
because if they fi lmed on the carousel at regular
speed it would look much too fast on fi lm. They also
built a mockup of the carousel for close-ups of the
fi nal battle in a studio in Brooklyn. This was quite
an extensive production.
Filming lasted 10 days and they came back a few
months later for additional shooting, for which they
had to drop a ton of orange leaves on the ground to
match the footage they shot previously.
If you’re one of the few unfortunates who saw
this fi lm, you may be struggling to remember this
scene. That’s because hardly any of it was used.
All of that shooting, all of the set decorations (they
brought in their own fully functional street lamps),
the mockup of the carousel, none of it ended up in
the fi nal product.
All that’s left are a few scenes inside Forest Park
which, to be honest, could have been fi lmed in any
park. The good news is that the carousel would
reopen a few years later and shortly thereaft er be
designated as a New York City Landmark. But the
fi lm itself is not very memorable.
The same defi nitely cannot be said for another
well-known fi lm shoot that took place in Woodhaven
just over 30 years ago.
It was the summer of 1989 and a fi lm crew, led by
famed director Martin Scorsese, set up camp for a
few days outside of The Union Course Bar, on 78th
Street and 88th Avenue. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci,
Ray Liotta and a host of other recognizable faces
were on site to fi lm several crucial scenes for the
One of the scenes took place just before Christmas
and locals watched bemused as actors stood around
wearing heavy winter coats on a sultry evening in
July surrounded by mounds of fake snow on the
Over time, the fi lm would be regarded as a classic,
and the bar where the fi lm was shot would revert
to an earlier name, Neir’s, and gain its own fame
as New York City’s oldest bar, now heading into its
And much earlier, in July 1974, the acclaimed
The set dressing for ‘The Sitter,’ a comedy fi lmed at the Forest Park Carousel 10 years ago this
month. Though extensive fi lming went on here in November 2010, nearly none of the footage
ended up in the fi nished product. Courtesy of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society
The interior of The Union Course Bar, today known as Neir’s Tavern, where Goodfellas fi lmed
crucial scenes just over 30 years ago. Courtesy of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society
television movie “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom”
fi lmed scenes during the day and deep into the next
morning on Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.
Watching the fi lm now gives residents a great
look at some familiar locations such as the post
offi ce and the Haven Movie Theater. It also gives
residents an interesting look at the steps to the J
Train on Forest Parkway, which were removed
several years later.
And some of the liberties moviemakers take provided
a few chuckles when we screened this fi lm for
residents a few years ago. For example, they created
a bus stop on Forest Parkway (where none has ever
Most amusingly is when one character takes a
cab from the front of her house to the Stardust Ballroom
(portrayed by the Haven Theater). Residents
of Woodhaven get a smile as they watch her get into
a cab on Forest Parkway and have an entire scene of
dialogue before getting out of the cab, right around
the corner from where she got in!
That’s Hollywood for you!
* * *
If you have any remembrances or old photographs of
“Our Neighborhood: The Way It Was” that you would
like to share with our readers, please write to the Old
Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside,
NY 11361, or send an email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.
com. Any print photographs mailed to us will
be carefully returned to you upon request.