The Anderson Tapes (1971)

Directed by the consummate Sidney Lumet and starring Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, Alan King, and a young Christopher Walken, The Anderson Tapes is a quirky heist movie, which also takes a critical look at the pervasive use of surveillance in modern society. Whether it’s government wire taps, residential security cameras, prison monitors, or bank ID photos, the film lets us know that someone is constantly keeping tabs on us.

Although a commendable attempt at exposing the moral ambiguity of prolific monitoring technologies in the 1970s, it does feel a bit dated today. I believe that if Lumet pushed the surveillance theme to the absurd levels as he did in his 1976 film, Network, this film might’ve retained a more timeless quality. I also think Quincy Jones’ futuristic electronic soundtrack was somewhat distracting, invariably reminding you that you’re watching a 1971 film that’s trying to be hipper beyond its decade. However, the film does have its charms. Almost all the leading actors give well-developed, engaging performances, and I’m always a sucker for a good heist story. Plus, Lumet being Lumet, he offers us a slew of interesting NYC locations.

 

Arriving from Prison

Port Authority
After being released from prison, Duke Anderson and two other ex-cons arrive at Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 8th Avenue, exiting Gate 19 on the lower level.
Port Authority
They take an escalator to the upper level.

 


It was already established on several websites that this scene was shot in the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue. But since the images in the film didn’t resemble what the bus station looks like today, I was in search of any vintage photos to confirm it was the same place.

After a little digging around, I stumbled upon a few black & white photographs from the late 1960s, showing what PABT looked like before it got remodeled in 1979. Amazingly, the station was much more charming in appearance, looking more like a small airport than a bus terminal. 

Looking west on the main level of Port Authority circa 1969, with a shot from The Anderson Tapes (inset) looking in the reverse direction. (Red arrow indicates the escalator the three characters ride up in the film.)

 

Looking at the southern mezzanine at Port Authority circa 1969 (above) and a still from The Anderson Tapes featuring Connery and Walken (below). Red arrow above shows their approximate location. (Photo by Lehnartz/ullstein bild)

 

After finding those black & white images, not only was I certain they filmed inside PABT, but I now had a better idea where the scene on the mezzanine took place. However, I was never able to find any information or vintage photos of where they shot the very end of this sequence, which featured several futuristic-looking seating stations

For more information about Port Authority Bus Terminal, see my article on Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), where I look at the history of an array of bus terminals in NYC.

Sean Connery talks to producer Robert M. Weitman in-between takes at Port Authority Bus Terminal. (Photo by Marty Lederhandler)
Late Night with Larry Bud Melman
From a 1983 episode of Late Night with David Letterman, Larry “Bud” Melman stands in the lower level of PABT, not far from where The Anderson Tapes was filmed. This was only a few years after the station was remodeled, and still looks more or less the same today.

 


Prior to this sequence at PABT, the movie begins with Duke Anderson and his fellow inmates being processed and released from prison. Several modern sources indicated they shot these scenes on Rikers Island, but I was very cautious to blindly assume that they actually filmed there.

This caution came from my experiences doing research for this “NYC in Film” project. Over the years, I have encountered instances when one person cites an incorrect filming location (usually on IMDB or Wikipedia) and then several other movie websites would promulgate this error, giving the impression that the purported filming location was backed up with multiple sources. So, the last thing I wanted to do was repeat this malfeasance on this website.

Fun City

But I had high hopes that the information for this scene was correct. I figured if it was explicitly indicated in the screen story that these characters were leaving Rikers Island, someone might’ve simply cited Rikers as a filming location on a website without doing any research. But since the characters were being released from an unnamed prison, I assumed there must be some reliable sources out there that were the basis for this filming location assertion.

However, after my initial research into the subject, I couldn’t find anything outside of movie websites that indicated that Lumet used the New York facility. I later found a 2016 article in the Queens Gazette that said The Anderson Tapes was filmed there, but the author could have gotten her information from a modern (and potentially unreliable) source like IMDB. 

Finally, I was able to track down one contemporaneous source that referred to the production being on Rikers Island — a syndicated news article by Earl Wilson which was circulated in late-September/early-October of 1970.

“This city’s bad!” Sean Connery said. Speaking, of course, of Fun City. “But it’s the most colorful in the world. In my hotel a woman threw a bag on the elevator right at the door so the lift couldn’t go down, then she ran back inside. I waited, then I went in to say, ‘Hey!’ She was packing another bag. 

“I was walking down the street with Marty Balsam when a man came up and shouted an anti-Semitic remark at me. I said ‘ME?’ Marty told the fellow. ‘Not him! ME!.’

I was trying to get breakfast in a little restaurant when a woman who bad two sets of eyebrows painted on her eyebrows screamed at me. ‘YOU CAN’T ORDER AHEAD OF ME. I WAS HERE FIRST!'”

Connery, who’s here filming “The Anderson Tapes,” shooting scenes in Rikers Island Prison among other places, says he got into the mood and put on a holdup man’s mask walking the street. “And nobody noticed anything strange!”

 

I kind of doubt all of those wild Connery stories are true, but one unexpected thing that caught my attention in that article was a reference to “Fun City” — which turns out was a short-lived moniker for NYC in the 1960s and 1970s. Apparently, it was based on a statement made in 1966 by the city’s newly-elected mayor, John Lindsay, who was facing a debilitating transit-strike, but declared, “I still think it’s a fun city,.”

John Lindsay
John Lindsay, 1965, shortly after being elected the new mayor of New York City.

His upbeat, but rather ineffective outlook in the face of the city’s mounting problems —the garbage and teachers’ strikes, prison riots, soaring poverty and crime— was met with mockery by cynical Gothamites.

New York Herald Tribune writer, Dick Schaap, was the first to coin the phrase, satirizing the mayor’s “fun city” quote in his metro column, making the point that a lighthearted attitude won’t solve the city’s dire situation.

”I grabbed the words, capitalized them and ran with them,” he later wrote.

For the next couple of years, the sardonic nickname was embraced by many New Yorkers, regularly appearing in news articles, advertisements, and Times Square porno shops. It even became the title of a Joan Rivers play that briefly ran on Broadway in 1972, and was the name of one of tracks for John Barry’s soundtrack for the 1969 film, Midnight Cowboy. 

Fun City
The Fun City Theater at 113 W 42nd Street in Manhattan, which was owned and operated by Marty “King of the Peeps” Hodas, circa 1970s. 

 

Since then, the moniker has basically disappeared from the New York lexicon. However, there was a brief reference to it during Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor when critics of his bans on smoking and oversized sugar drinks began referring to New York as “No-Fun City.”

Fun City
Broadway’s Morosco Theatre in January 1972, featuring a sign for the comedy “Fun City,” starring Joan Rivers (who also co-wrote it), Rose Marie, Paul Ford and Louis Zorich. The failed show ended up closing after only nine performances.

 

Even though the reference to Rikers Island in that 1970 news article was only in passing, it was enough to make me fairly confident that the movie was indeed shot there. But I still wanted to find some pictorial evidence to give me full satisfaction. I watched several harrowing documentaries about the long-established institution, but I couldn’t find any images that matched any of the shots from the film.

Finally, after sifting through endless pictures of Rikers Island (most of which were of the outside), I found a couple shots of the inside from the 1930s and 1950s that appeared to show some matching details.     

Rikers
A photograph of a Rikers Island cellblock from the 1930s (left) compared to a still from the 1971 film. (Red boxes indicate matching elements.)

 

After discovering those vintage photos, I became confident that production filmed on Rikers Island, and believed they most likely used a cellblock inside Rikers House of Detention for Men (HDM). Constructed in 1933, the 1,200-bed, maximum security complex was the island’s first permanent jail, and was renamed James A. Thomas Center in 1989 to honor the DOC’s first African-American warden (which is ironic since, according to reporter Sylvia Kronstadt, Thomas thought it was a “barbaric facility”). Still-standing, the three-story structure is no longer used to house inmates (although this past summer, its rooftop was used as an escape route for a fleeing prisoner).

 

Banking and Shopping

bank
Duke opens a new checking account at a bank at 675 Third Avenue.
Korvette's on Fifth
Afterwards, Duke’s face and a personal check are photographed by a sales clerk at Korvettes department store at 575 Fifth Avenue.

 


Finding the location of the store was a fairly simple task since the name “Korvettes Fifth Avenue” appears on a sign in the background. After a little research I was able to figure out that the store’s official address was 575 Fifth Avenue.

But before Korvettes opened this location on Fifth Avenue, it had spent the previous 14 years pioneering a new frontier in discount retailing, reinventing the “five-and-dime store” model. Starting in 1948 with a small shop that sold luggage out of a Manhattan loft space, Korvettes had expanded to dozens of department store locations throughout the New York metropolitan area by the late 1950s, offering prices 10 to 40 percent below competing stores.

Korvettes’ success had a lot do with an innovative strategy of establishing itself as a co-op entity through the distribution of “membership cards” to all of its customers. By doing that, they were able to undercut suggested retail prices on expensive items without violating anti-discounting provisions of the Robinson-Patman Act.

In May of 1962, during its height of popularity, Korvettes opened the giant, 8-story department store featured in this film on the southeast corner of 47th Street and Fifth Avenue. In the lead-up to its grand opening, Korvettes was apparently the source of much consternation among its neighbors. The concern was that the opening of a “discount store” could tarnish the reputation of the area’s luxury retailers, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

However, Korvettes ended up fitting into the ritzy shopping area quite well. The newly-renovated interior of the store was more elegant than the usual “bare-bones” aesthetics found in their other outlets. Plus, management made sure that in addition to their normal low- and mid-price merchandise, their Fifth Avenue stock also included a wide variety of upscale items. According to an article in the New York Times, opening day customers saw an assortment things that ranged from 88¢ costume jewelry to a $15,000 diamond neckless.

Fifth Avenue Korvettes
Customers pack the shopping floors of Fifth Avenue Korvettes, shortly after its grand opening in May of 1962.

The flagship store did well for several years, becoming something of a tourist attraction, similar to Macy’s at Herald Square. But after Korvettes’ founder Eugene Ferkauf sold his share of the company in 1966, the chainstore’s merchandising image started becoming muddled, especially as ownership continued to change hands over the years. 

Eugene Ferkauf, owner of Korvettes, stands outside his Fifth Avenue store. (Photo by Ben Martin)

By the mid-1970s, business started dwindling, and in 1980, the store filed for bankruptcy.

Shortly after that, the new owners of the Fifth Avenue property prepared to convert the building into a combination retail/office space, hoping to revitalize the neighborhood whose luster had faded over the last decade. But rather than tearing down the old building, developers built around the former store’s 8-story steel structure, and added a 27-story tower on top of that, which was slightly inset from the original “footprint.” 

Completed in the fall of 1983, the pink-granite structure that sits on that corner today no longer resembles the Korvettes building whose innards are technically still part of the architecture.

575 Fifth Avenue
The 8-story baroque building at 575 Fifth Avenue, shortly after its construction in 1912 (left), whose steel structure was built upon in 1983 to create the 40-story skyscraper that sits there today (right).

 

Even though I call it the “Korvettes building,” when it was originally constructed in 1912, it was for a high-end carpet and furniture company called W&J Sloane. Before that, the block was home to the Windsor Arcade, which was a 3-story, Beaux Arts shopping center that is thought by some to be an early prototype of the modern mall. 

Windsor Arcade
The Windsor Arcade, circa 1905, which ran from 46th to 47th Street on Fifth Avenue; looking at the northeast corner of Fifth and 46th.
The Windsor Arcade
Another view of Windsor Arcade, shortly before its northern half was demolished in 1910; looking at the southeast corner of Fifth Ave and 47th St, which would be the future site of Korvettes department store.

Before the arcade was erected in 1901, the corner lot was home to the Hotel Windsor, which ended ed up being destroyed in a tragic fire two years earlier. And before the hotel was established in 1873, most of Fifth Avenue above 42nd Street was basically a rural setting. In fact, the entire block between 46th and 47th Streets used to be a cow pasture, originally sold to a pair of brothers for a total sum of about $2,000.  

 


While figuring out the location of the department store was fairly easy, figuring out the location of the bank was a little more challenging, mostly because the scene didn’t contain any clearly visible signage. But by the looks of the interior, I guessed that it was most likely in the Midtown East area, as the banks there tended to have the same bland, but spacious design seen in the film.

There weren’t too many details in the buildings that appeared out the windows, but I was still hopeful that they’d offer a clue to its location. After studying the scene, my ever-adroit research partner, Jeff Blakesssles, thought he recognized the blueish building with the red lettering on it to be located on 42nd Street somewhere.

A quick trip to Google Street View and he confirmed the building was on the southwest corner of E 42nd Street and Third Avenue. (Turns out there used to be a Woolworth’s store in that building, which accounts for the red lettering that appeared in the film.) From there, we concluded they filmed this bank scene in the building katy-corner to it. 

woolworth's
Looking west on E 42nd Street, late-1960s, featuring the blueish building and the Woolworth’s store that appeared out the window in this scene. The bank would be just to the right of the man in the brown suit.

However, even though the blue building matched the one seen in the film, the building across the street on Third Avenue looked significantly different, despite having a construction date of 1958. I found that a bit confusing, until I discovered a 1980 tax photo of the building that looked like what appeared in the film, indicating that it was simply “modernized” at some point after that. 

666 Third Ave
A still from the 1971 film (left), compared to a circa 1980 tax photo of 666 Third Avenue. (Red lines indicate matching design elements.)

 

It might be noted that for the bank’s “before/after” image at the top of this section, the modern view was taken on the street, opposed to inside the Bank of America, which currently occupies the space. I’ve found that financial institutions can be a bit touchy when you start snapping pictures on their premises. Maybe some day, I can sneak a frame or two while inside the bank, but until then, the street pic (which shows the same general relation to the other buildings) will have to do. 

 

The Apartment Building

atapes-apt1a
Duke stands in front of the Central Park wall on 5th Avenue between 91st and 92nd Streets.
atapes-apt1b
He looks at the large apartment building at 1 E 91st Street from 5th Avenue.
atapes-apt2
Duke then checks out the building from the 91st Street side.
atapes-apt3
He steps closer, staring at the 91st Street entrance.
atapes-apt5
He enters the vestibule.
atapes-apt6
As Duke heads into the lobby, a security camera monitors his movements.

 


This lavish apartment block was identified on many websites to be located at 1 East 91st Street on the corner of Fifth Avenue. And since the exterior of the building has changed very little over the years, it was fairly easy to make the match.

A modern, less bulky camera in the corner of the vestibule at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 2019.

Made up of two former private mansions, the space has been home to the Convent of the Sacred Heart —an independent Roman Catholic all-girls school— since the 1930s. This landmarked Italianate palazzo overlooks Central Park, and is also across the street from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, which has appeared in numerous films, including Jumping’ Jack Flash, Arthur, and Marathon Man.

Most of the interiors were reportedly filmed on studio sets, but production did end up filming a few bits inside the actual Catholic school, showcasing its striking interior design (see “the Robbery” scene below).

I’m not quite sure where these interiors were filmed, as there doesn’t seem to be a consensus out there. TCM claims interiors were shot at Hi Brown Studio and ABC-Path Studio in New York, while IMDB says they were done at New York Production Center Studios at 221 West 26th Street. I have yet to find a reliable source to confirm whether production used any of these places.

 

Mob Restaurant

Guido's Supreme Macaroni Company
After Duke lays out his plan to rob an apartment building to Angelo and his Mafia associates at Guido’s Supreme Macaroni Company, at 511 Ninth Avenue. 
Guido's Supreme Macaroni Company
Angelo talks to his associates about Duke’s heist plan in the front of the restaurant, which was set-up like a small Italian grocery store. (Note: the building no longer exists today.)

 


I thought finding the location to this restaurant scene, like most interior scenes, would be a difficult task. But the scene was clearly taking place in an Italian eatery which had a uniquely characteristic decor, so I thought it was certainly possible to identify. Fortunately, Bob Egan’s historical website, PopSpotsNYC, which finds New York locations of notable album covers and other pop cultural events, had an article that turned out to be very helpful. In it, Egan talked about tracking down the location of a photo on the back cover of Billy Joel’s 1977 LP, The Stranger, which he concluded was inside Guido’s Supreme Macaroni Pasta Company on Ninth Avenue.

Even though his main focus was on Joel’s album, the article also mentioned a few movies that were shot inside the restaurant, including The Anderson Tapes. The Supreme Macaroni Company was also used in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite, the Michael J. Fox drama Bright Lights, Big City, and perhaps most famously, Léon: The Professional, starring a young Natalie Portman.

Supreme Macaroni Co
A still from the 1971 film, compared to an outtake for the Billy Joel album back cover (submitted to the PopSpots website by Mike Stutz), with red arrows indicating matching photographs.

 

Supreme Macaroni Co
A still from 1994’s Léon: The Professional, showing the exterior of Supreme Macaroni Co, which used to be located at 511 9th Avenue, before being closed down in 2004. The building was demolished around 2009.


On Egan’s website,Tarra Tournour (nee Scarola), whose father owned the Italian eatery, wrote in and gave some details about the restaurant and its famed history:

The Supreme Macaroni Co. was started in 1947 by my great-grandmother Asunta (Susie) Scarola and her second husband (my step great-grandfather) Guido. The building was a pasta factory called the Supreme Macaroni Co. when they purchased it and they simply kept the name. Susie and Guido started with a deli and Guido would occasionally cook in the back.

One thing that struck me was Tarra’s account of the restaurant name. She said that the family just adopted the name left behind by the previous occupants, but when I looked at the 1939-1941 tax records of the address, the business was called, “Insuperable Macaroni Company”. I couldn’t a listing for “Insuperable” or “Supreme” in a 1946 phonebook, so I’m not sure what the whole story is.

From the NYC Municipal Archives, a circa 1940 photo of 511 Ninth Avenue, showing the former occupants who ran a business called, “Insuperable Macaroni Co.”

Anyway, after listing the movies shot in her family’s restaurant, Tarra described other connections they had with the entertainment world:

Several commercials and magazine photo shoots featured the restaurant and it was mentioned in Nevada Barr’s novel “Liberty Falling” because she was a fan. Even 10 years after it closed, the author Adrianna Trigiani named her latest novel “The Supreme Macaroni Co.” because she ate dinner there many times and liked the name.

Finally, many stars dined at the restaurant – Rob Reiner, Alec Baldwin, John F. Kennedy Jr., Ava Gardner, Carol Burnett, Frank Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman, Mickey Rooney, Brooke Shields, The Police, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Who, Rudy Guiliani, Ed MacMahon, and John Ritter just to name a few.

Sadly, like many other cultural places with rich New York history, the restaurant (along with half the block) got torn down around 2009 to make way for luxury apartments and a boutique hotel. 

Even though I never went inside the Supreme Macaroni Co, I do remember passing it several times in the 1990’s, back when that section of Hell’s Kitchen was still a vibrant ethnic neighborhood. There are still a few traditional mom-and-pop shops along Ninth Avenue, but they’re slowly disappearing, and at some point, all we’ll have left is album covers and old movies to remind us of what that area used to be like.

 

Agents Seek Surveillance Warrant

A judge listens to a request by agents for a warrant to surveil the owner of an antique store on West 10th Street, who just happens to be an associate of Duke Anderson’s. 

 


I could tell this scene was shot in a real courthouse —opposed to a set— by the looks of the room’s battered fixtures, and more importantly, by the skyline seen out the window. In fact, it was those buildings seen out the window that helped me pinpoint this location.

I guessed that Lumet filmed this scene in one of the courthouses in downtown Manhattan, so I just looked around the area until I found the pair of skyscrapers that matched the ones that appeared behind the judge. I determined the older, classic Beaux-Arts building on the left was 15 Park Row (est. 1896, and former home to J&R Music World) and the more modern-looking building next to it was 222 Broadway (est. 1961). The skyline was still looking a little open back then because this was a couple years before the completion of the 743-foot One Liberty Plaza, which was built for Merrill Lynch (and included such amenities as a sauna for their executives on the 50th floor).

Taking into account the vantage point of those skyscrapers, I estimated that production either used the Tweed Courthouse or the Surrogate’s Court — both located on Chambers Street, just north of City Hall. After considering the window’s close proximity to trees, I started leaning more towards Tweed, which is situated inside City Hall Park. Then, after a little digging around, I found a couple photos taken inside a courtroom, showing the windows and doors, which matched the film perfectly.

Tweed Courthouse
A 2008 photo of one of Tweed Courthouse’s black walnut doors (inset), compared to a still from the 1971 film. 
Tweed
A still from the film (above) compared to a black & white photograph of one of the rooms inside Tweed Courthouse  (below, date unknown), featuring windows with matching frames and moldings.

 

Tweed Courthouse is located on the north side of City Hall Park on Chambers Street and is supposedly New York City’s second permanent government building, following the adjacent City Hall (est. 1811). Starting in 1861, the marble courthouse took 20 years to build, delayed by the Civil War and a shake-up in “Boss” Tweed’s political group (who allegedly used the construction as way to facilitate an embezzling scheme). By the time the courthouse opened in 1861, William “Boss” Tweed had already died in jail after being convicted on charges of forgery and grand larceny. It is estimated that the building ended up costing taxpayers a whopping $250 million (adjusted for inflation), most of which ended up in the pockets of corrupt political leaders.  

Tweed Courthouse has been a landmarked building since 1984, but its destruction had been an ardent mission of civic leaders for most of the 20th century, probably because the building’s been so closely associated with the sordid crimes of “Boss” Tweed and his bloated construction costs. Ironically, the only thing that saved this courthouse from being razed in 1975 was a NYC fiscal crisis that made it impossible for the city to afford demolition costs, let alone the cost of building a replacement.  

Tweed Courthouse
A 1983 photograph from the NYC Municipal Archives, when the government agency was headquartered in the Tweed Courthouse. Note the window moldings and hanging light fixtures, which match what’s in the courtroom scene from the film. (Photo by Kenneth R. Cobb)

 

By the mid-1970s, Tweed had ceased to be used as a working courthouse, and less than 10% of the building’s space was being used at all. In 1979, NYC’s Municipal Archives was temporarily relocated there for four years, until they could move into their permanent space at the Surrogate’s Court. Blakeslee found a remarkable government website which republished a 1983 article written for the archive department’s newsletter that described what it was like working in a “beautiful but imperfect building.” The article also gave a brief history of the courthouse, including the various movies that were shot there, and shared several rare photographs taken during the department’s four-year sojourn. 

Because the building was more or less lying dormant by the 1970s, it became the perfect shooting location for moviemakers seeking out an authentic-looking courthouse. One of the first productions that filmed inside the space was the Academy-Award winning film, Kramer vs. Kramer, which used one of the courtrooms on the third floor for its climactic custody-battle scenes. Shortly after that, in 1979, director Brian DePalma transformed the building into a police station and an insane asylum for his thriller, Dressed to Kill, starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, and the always-gruff Dennis Franz.

According to the 1983 newsletter, director Sidney Lumet used the courthouse for two of his films, Prince of the City, and The Verdict, even though the latter was supposed to be taking place in Boston. In order to achieve an “old Boston” look, production gave the Courthouse an extensive makeover, which included adding fake statues, marbleizing the plaster pillars, and painting the hallways chocolate, cream and gold. Apparently, the city liked production’s makeover and didn’t require them to restore the courthouse to its original “dingy beige” color scheme afterwards. (Although I can only assume the fake statues were removed.)

The Verdict
Sidney Lumet talking to Paul Newman and Jack Warden on the set of The Verdict, in early 1982, featuring a fake statue in the niche behind them. (Photo by Kenneth R. Cobb, from the Municipal Archives website)

I noticed that the Archival Society’s newsletter didn’t make mention of The Anderson Tapes, but I figured it was most likely because it was shot years before the department moved into the space and they didn’t have a firsthand account of the production. Regardless, I’m almost 100% positive that The Anderson Tapes was shot in Tweed Courthouse.

Unfortunately, even though public tours have been made available, I haven’t yet had a chance to see the inside of the building (which got a massive renovation in the 1990s before becoming the headquarters for the Department of Education). But considering the state of things right now, it seems unlikely I will have access to the old courthouse any time soon, so that cruddy Google Maps image of the outlying skyline will have to serve as the “modern pic” for my “before/after” image for now.

 

Electronic Store

Canal Street
Duke goes to an electronic surplus store at 332 Canal Street (looking much cleaner today) to convince “the Kid” to help him with the robbery.

 


I simply used the surplus store’s name and number to track down this filming location, since I thought the storefront in the scene looked authentic. Using the full name in a Google search, I found a 1963 article in American Modeler magazine written by “Battling Bob” Hatschek who mentions the New York shop and gives a full address of 332 Canal Street. I then found several other online sources giving the same street number, confirming the location and saving me a trip to the public library and having to look up the store’s name in an old Manhattan phonebook. 

For the longest time the retail space at no. 332 was home to cheap sound/electronic stores which were typical to Canal Street for the last several decades. But around 2015, things started changing in the area and most of the bargain stores shut down and were replaced with high-end shops and boutiques. But you can see by the “before/after” image above, that a lot of the commercial spaces are still unoccupied (most likely due to intimidatingly high rents) .

 

Black Panthers 

Duke passes 62 E 4th Street as a surveillance team watches from a second-story apartment across the street. (Note the matching standpipe near Connery.)
Later, the surveillance team films several members of Duke’s gang as they gather inside 64 E 4th Street to plan a robbery, although the agents are technically there to only surveil the activities of the Black Panthers.
The agents also film Jimmy, a hired hand, as he walks past 66 E 4th Street.

 


Jeff Blakeslee was the one who found this location. The most obvious clue he worked from was the yellow and red theater that had a marquee with a gigantic 62 on it. Assuming that the number was the building address, a Google search for “new york theater” plus “62 east” (after doing an alternative search for “62 west”) got him a couple hits for a theater located at 62 East Fourth Street, which was called the Channel One Theatre in 1971.

After consulting the 1940 tax records and checking out the address in Google Street View, Blakeslee and I concluded that we got the correct location. Granted, the Black Panthers building where all the characters go into has changed dramatically since the 1970s, but its two neighboring buildings currently look about the same, and number 62 is even still a theater. 

62 East 4th Street
62 East 4th Street, as it looks today.

Dating back to 1890 for a cost of around $35,000, the building at 62 E 4th Street was originally conceived as a restaurant and lodging house by German immigrant, Victor Eckstein. The design included private quarters on the top floor for his 8-member family, along with a unique circular fire escape that ran down the front of the building, camouflaged by a perforated iron mesh. 

Eckstein’s restaurant operated out of the ground floor and basement for several years, but the building has basically served as a theater and meeting hall for most of its existence. Over the years, 62 E 4th Street has had a variety of different names, such as Astoria Hall, the Royal Playhouse, the Rodale Theater, the New York Theater Ensemble, and the Fortune Theatre (at which time Andy Warhol and his associate, Gerard Malangato, rented out the second floor to put on a series of male porno films). When The Anderson Tapes was filmed in the summer of 1970, the space was known as the Channel One Theatre (whose name you can sort of see in the film on the side of the marquee). 

Co-founded by Ken Shapiro and Lane Sarasohn in 1967, the Channel One Theatre showcased satirical “underground television” productions which involved videotaped skits being “broadcast” on three B&W television monitors hung from the theater ceiling. Along with Shapiro, the cast included actor/comedian Richard Belzer and a pre-SNL Chevy Chase. A few years later the best skits from their shows would be compiled together to form a 1974 film called, The Groove Tube, which some say helped pave the way for shows like SNL and SCTV.

Groove Tube
A circa-1969 advertisement for the Groove Tube show at the the Channel One Theatre in the East Village. (Note the second quote making a reference to one of Vice President Spiro Agnew’s speeches entitled, “The Responsibilities of Television,” where he criticized network TV’s coverage of the Nixon administration. 
Ken Shapiro
A photograph of Ken Shapiro in the Channel One Theatre on East 4th Street, most likely taken in the early 1970s. (Photo from Lane Sarasohn’s website.)
Sean Connery stands on a stoop (since removed) at 64 E 4th Street, whose facade is made up to look like a Black Panthers headquarters for the film. (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild)
Channel One Theatre
A circa 1977 photo of 62 E 4th Street, when it was home to the New York Theater Ensemble (NYTE), as well as 64 E 4th Street (on the left) which was the Black Panthers headquarters in The Anderson Tapes. (From the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.)

Since the early 2000’s, this part of the East Village has experienced a revitalization of the theater scene, with a bunch of small venues lining both sides of East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery. And as far as I can tell, 62 E 4th still houses a theater (along with a dance company and a karate studio). 

As to the apartment used by the surveillance team in this scene, I figure it was located on the second floor of 71 E 4th Street, across the street from the Black Panthers building. By my estimates, if looking at no. 71 from the street, the actors would have been looking out the third window from the right.

 

Pop Calls Duke

Pop calls Duke from a payphone just south of the intersection of W 46th Street and Broadway in Times Square.

 


By the looks of the background, I assumed that this brief scene was shot in Times Square — it was just a matter of figuring out the exact block. The biggest clue was the Ripley’s Wax Museum seen behind the phone. After doing a general internet search, I was surprised by how little information there was about the popular tourist attraction, which was in the Square for nearly a quarter of a century. I was also surprised I couldn’t find one picture of Ripley’s when I did a Google image search.

Eventually, I did find a New York Times article written on January 9th, 1972, that described the museum and its closure.

According to the article, Ripley’s Wax Museum, which featured historical and cultural statues, as well as reproductions of torture devices and other grim oddities, had been a New York institution since 1948. However, due to diminishing receipts and a general decline in NYC tourism, Ripley’s executive vice president, Charles Bristol, decided to close down the wax museum at the end of 1971. The executive, who described Broadway as the “Avenue of Perverts,” told The New York Times that “Times Square used to be the best tourist area of the world. But it’s gone downhill severely. Now most people stay away from it.”

Some critics thought the museum’s decline in popularity had more to do with its inability to update its exhibits to reflect the changing times, rather than the result of a lackluster tourist trade. But a corporate VP’s vocal distain for New York City and a pair of suspicious fires in February and May of 1971 (one of which killed an AWOL sailor) certainly didn’t help the tourist attraction’s prospects of staying open. 

In addition to the details of its closure, the Times article provided the exact address of Ripley’s Wax Museum, which was at 1539 Broadway. However, the one inconsistent thing from the article was its account of where the newly-vacated building was located, describing it to be “between 43rd and 44th Streets.” When I consulted both contemporary and vintage maps, it looked like no. 1539 was actually further up, between 45th and 46th Streets. So, either the address number in that article was wrong, or its description of which block it was on was wrong — I just had to figure out which one.

After a little more digging, I found a Daily News article reporting on the museum’s May 1971 fire, which helped  clear things up, giving a location of “1539 Broadway, near 45th Street.” From there, I concluded Ripley’s was on the west side of Broadway, between 45th and 46th, situated between the Astor and Victoria movie theaters. 

Looking at the west side of Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets in 1967, featuring the wax museum that appeared in the Anderson Tapes, and a giant billboard for the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, also starring Sean Connery.

 

With that clarifying information, I adopted a new strategy in my search for a picture of Ripley’s, focusing my attention on the two neighboring movie theaters instead. I knew I’d be able to find plenty of pictures of those theaters online, mostly thanks to the bountiful website, Cinema Treasures, which always has a large photo gallery for each of its entries (sometimes including rare family snapshots sent in by its readers). My hope was that some of the vintage photos of the Astor or Victoria Theater would also include Ripley’s Wax Museum, since it was only a few yards away from either one of them.   

Ripley's Wax Museum
A 1956 photo of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Odditorium, which was just to the north of the Astor Theatre in Times Square.
Ripley's Wax Museum
Ripley’s Wax Museum from 1968, featuring the same yellow-stripe design on the corner store which appeared in this short scene .

 

My strategy paid off, and I found several pictures online that featured the long-gone tourist attraction, which I discovered changed its name from Ripley’s Odditorum to Ripley’s Wax Museum sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. After studying the block layout in these old photos, I realized Lumet filmed this “Pop Calls Duke” scene at nearly the same location used in the “Picking Up Socks” scene (see below) which occurs later in the film. In fact, I noticed that the corner store with the yellow-stripe design appears in both scenes.

 

Italian Funeral

Shrine Church of St Anthony of Padua
A funeral is held in Shrine Church of St Anthony of Padua at 155 Sullivan Street in Little Italy.
Little Italy
After the church services, Duke exits a bakery from across the street at 152 Sullivan Street and joins Angelo in his car.
rfk
The action jumps to the Triborough Bridge as the funeral procession goes though a toll booth, heading east into Queens.
FDR Drive
The action jumps again as the two men discuss the job. Now they are traveling south on FDR Drive, approaching the Manhattan Bridge.
East River Park
In the reverse shot of Angelo, the action jumps north a bit, on the FDR near East River Park and the Williamsburg Bridge.

 


The church where the funeral took place was already listed on several movie websites as taking place on Sullivan Street, and it didn’t take me long to confirm it since most of the buildings are still there and look about the same.

Interestingly, none of the websites bothered to list the locations of the driving sequence that followed the funeral scene, despite the fact that they were relatively findable. I used the East River bridges to help me figure out the approximate location of the car as it drove along FDR Drive, and the only place that made sense for the toll booths was the Triborough Bridge (now called RFK).

Lumet and Connery
Sean Connery and Sidney Lumet laugh it up on Sullivan Street in downtown Manhattan, as local spectators look on.

One thing I found surprising about this sequence was its numerous continuity problems in geography. It starts with a funeral in Little Italy in downtown Manhattan, then jumps about 125 blocks north to the Triborough Bridge where the car travels east towards Queens/Long Island. Then, they’re suddenly back on Manhattan, traveling south on FDR Drive, not too far from Little Italy where this sequence began. 

It’s possible this was done for visual reasons, but I have a feeling that the scene-order might’ve gotten switched around in the editing room. I say this because while the two men are driving south on the FDR, Alan King says the line, “On the way back from the funeral…” even though we’ve already seen them come out of the church funeral. 

In any case, Lumet is not particularly known for being a stickler to geographical accuracy, as evidenced by his 1973 film Serpico, where he consistently substituted one borough for another.  

 

Papa’s Mansion

After the funeral, Duke and Angelo drive to Papa’s mansion at 40 Shore Drive in Kings Point, Long Island. Angelo goes to the backyard (set along the Manhasset Bay) and asks the aged Mafia leader to okay the planned robbery.

 


Finding rural locations like this are always a lot tougher, since I can’t rely on a lot of the techniques and resources used to find NYC spots. Unless the location is identified on another movie website or available production notes, I usually have to dig through books, magazines and old newspapers in hopes that there might be a notation that will lead me to an answer. 

When I consulted other movie websites, I noticed several of them indicated that the Anderson Tapes did some filming at Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island. At first, I thought they must be referring to this “Papa’s Mansion” scene, but after looking at some pictures of the century-old castle, I could tell that it didn’t look anything like the Tudor home that appears here. Plus the castle wasn’t near any major bodies of water, so, I dismissed it as a possibility, and was back to square one.

A breakthrough finally came when Blakeslee found an AP story from 1971 about the film, which talked about a Long Island location:

The Anderson Tapes, the suspenseful story of a $1 million robbery of a luxury apartment on New York’s Upper East Side, had its world premiere here. Sean Connery plays the leading role of an ex-confidence man who masterminds the robbery. Also in the film are Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam and Alan King. Entire location for the Columbia film was New York, except for the portion shot at King’s waterfront home at Kings Point on Long Island.

We could only assume King’s home was used for this “Papa” scene, and our next task was to find an exact address.

Allen King
Alan King (left) at his home in Long Island with character actor Lou Jacobi (right), and local retailer, Sidney Siegel (middle, according to the “Vermeer of the Borscht Belt” Facebook page).

At first, I thought it might be a little tricky since famous people’s addresses are usually not readily available. But to our surprise, we found a couple sources that listed King’s Long Island address, including a 1973 New York Times article reporting on his son being arrested:

Andrew King, the 18‐year‐old younger son of the comedian Alan King, was arraigned yesterday morning in Nassau County on charges of felonious possession of marijuana and hashish.

“We had him arrested,” Mr. King said yesterday while enrolling Andrew in a private, Manhattan‐based drug‐rehabilitation program where his older son, Robert, had undergone rehabilitation for heroin addiction.

The youth was arraigned in First District Court in Mineola, L.I., and released in the custody of his father. According to the police in Kings Point, L.I., Andrew was arrested at 10 P.M. Saturday near the family’s 22‐room mansion at 40 Shore Drive.

I was rather astounded that the Times would just offhandedly list a celebrity’s home address, but it ended up being a useful aid in figuring out a filming location nearly forty years later.

Sadly, King’s large Tudor residence in the private Kenilworth section of Kings Point has since been torn down. It got replaced in 2012 with an outrageously huge McMansion, whose annual property taxes alone would make your head spin. (It was reported that in 2018, the year’s taxes totaled $421,263.)

Kings Point
The new mansion at 40 Shore Drive in Kings Point, completed in 2012.

It’s a travesty that such a beautiful Great Gatsby-era mansion got replaced with an ugly, uninspired super-mansion, especially when you consider that before Alan King bought the home in 1960, it was originally built in 1926 for American lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein, of Broadway’s Rodgers and Hammerstein fame. Just goes to show that razing historically-rich buildings under the guise of “progress” isn’t just limited to NYC.

King's Home
A still from the film, with the original 1926 Tudor house in the background.

Even though I was fairly certain we found the right filming location, I still hoped to find at least one photo of the old mansion, just to ensure that we got the right place. I found the Kings Point address listed on a couple LI real estate websites, but they were all for the recently-constructed residence (which I found out is over 15,000 square feet and has 20 bathrooms). But luckily, for some reason, even though the 40 Shore Drive listing on Propertyshark.com was for the new 2012 home, the photo was of the old 1926 home. 

I don’t know how that happened, but their mistake was our boon.

40 Shore Drive
The 6,457-square-foot Tudor home at 40 Shore Drive in Kings Point, NY (which was featured in this film) shortly before it was demolished and replaced in 2012. (Photo from Propertyshark.com)

As a side note, having watched this film many times, I still can’t figure out what scene would’ve taken place at the aforementioned Oheka Castle. Pretty much every location from the film has been identified by Blakelsee and me, and as far as I can tell, nothing from the film came close to looking like that grandiose estate in Huntington. My guess is, someone mistakenly thought this “Papa” scene was shot at Oheka (probably because it’s been used in a lot of other film and television productions) and just absently added it to a website like IMDB. Then, just like I talked about in the Rikers Island section above, others promulgated the error.

I suppose it’s possible there was a deleted scene that was shot there, but seems unlikely.

 

Bathhouse

“Socks” Parelli meets up with Duke at the former Luxor Baths at 121 West 46th Street. (Note that the building no long exists.)

 


Like the church from the “Funeral” scene, this filming location for this “Bath” scene was already identified on several websites, indicating that it took place in Luxor Baths & Hotel. But unlike the church, which could simply be identified in Google Street View, an old bathhouse wasn’t as easily verifiable. That being said, I was fairly certain Luxor was correct, even before I found any pictorial evidence. From what I knew about gyms and bathhouses in the 1970s, there weren’t a huge number of other options in Manhattan that would fit the bill.

Luxor Baths
A group of all-male clientele, or habitués as they are called, at Luxor Baths, 1963. (Photo by Arthur Schatz for Esquire Magazine.)
Alan King at Luxor Baths
A photo from what looks like an exorcised scene with Alan King at Luxor Baths on W 46th Street.

Opened in 1925, the Luxor was full-service gymnasium, hotel and bathhouse which occupied the entire 9-story building at 121 West 46th Street. The Luxor Bath and Hotel was for men only, and the clientele (referred to as habitués) included ordinary workingmen as well as the rich and famous. People like boxer Jack Dempsey, comedian Sid Caesar, author Tennessee Williams, and actor Jack Warden all passed through the lobby doors at one time. This was back in the days when famous celebrities had no qualms about sweating naked next to a plumber or an accountant.  

The bath floor where this scene took place was located one level below the hotel lobby and consisted of a large swimming pool, three “hot rooms,” and several areas where you could receive a variety of services. Some of the things you could get were massages, rub-downs, cupping therapy, or a hose-down, where they sprayed you with high-pressure hoses. The concept of a private, all-male gym and bathhouse sounds a bit foreign today —like something from Ancient Rome or Turkey— but it was a perfectly normal NYC phenomena not too long ago.  

Things started to change in the mid-1970s, when Luxor Baths was secretly converted into a multi-million “massage parlor” and house of prostitution — although no one seemed to know who exactly was running this illegal operation. The building owner, Seymour Durst, claimed the operators were unknown “squatters” who took over the space after the previous leasers, Astro Development Corporation, ran out of money and had to vacate the property. Luxor finally closed its doors for good around 1980 and the building was demolished and replaced in 1987.

For more details about the Luxor, check out an article by Marc Epstein, whose father used to run the day-to-day operations of the place (before it became a multi-floor brothel). 

Luxor Baths
A shot of the awning outside of Luxor Baths at 121 W 46th Street. From the 1979 film, The Rose, starring Bette Midler.

Even though I was more or less willing to accept the online consensus that this bath scene was shot at the Luxor, I was delighted when I discovered that the 1979 film, The Rose, starring Bette Midler offered some corroborating evidence. Shots of the baths from the Anderson Tapes matched a scene from the Rose, which also featured some exterior shots of the building, verifying that both films took place at the Luxor on W 46th Street. 

 

Stealing a Mayflower Truck

Duke breaks into a parking lot at 11th Avenue, just south of W 18th Street, and locks up the attendant. 
Meanwhile, his partners hotwire a Mayflower moving truck and drive it out of the lot and onto 11th Ave.
After stealing the truck, the team loads a van Into the back of it while parked in front of the garages at 509-523 W 18th Street. (Note the extant Highline in the background.)

This was one of the first locations I identified for this movie. Seeing an elevated highway next to the parking lot made me instantly assume that it was somewhere along the west side of Manhattan, most likely between Canal and 42nd Street. After a little looking around in Google Street View, I found a parking lot near W 18th Street that looked promising. Upon closer inspection, I found several matching buildings surrounding the lot.

It might be noted that this all happened before a new skyscraper started going up on the lot in 2018, which was followed by the destruction of most of the surrounding buildings I used to identify this scene. 

A still from the 1971 film showing W 18th Street (inset) compared to a photo of the same spot in 2020, where the Highline overpass is the only thing that has remained the same.

When I took the photo of 18th Street where the van gets loaded onto the truck, the garages on the north side of the street were still around, but have since been torn down and replaced with high-rise apartment buildings (see the photo above).

Today, the only thing that remains standing from 1970 is the pier on the East River.

Chelsea Piers
One of few things remaining from 1970 is the south end of Chelsea Piers on 11th Avenue. (Note that the image from The Anderson Tapes was taken inside the parking lot, while the modern view was taken just outside the lot, which is now occupied by a large skyscraper.)

 

Antique Shop

Antiques
On the day of the heist, Tommy Haskins, one of Duke’s team members, exits his antique shop at 30 E 10th Street to get into the truck.

 


This, too, was one of the first locations I identified from this film. There was no real work involved since I was already familiar with the neighborhood and quickly figured out that production shot this scene on 10th Street near University.

What’s cool is that the retail space that had an antique shop in it during the filming in 1970 still has an antique shop in there today — Bernd Goeckler Inc, who’ve been in business since 1989. The neighborhood actually used to be known for having a lot of secondhand shops and antique dealerships, but there’s not much left of that today.

 

Picking Up Socks

The large moving truck heads north on Sixth Avenue going through W 28th Street.
The truck travels east through Times Square, passing the old Howard Johnson’s restaurant at 1551 Broadway.
Socks waits across the street from the former High School of Performing Arts at 120 West 46th Street.
He gets into the Mayflower truck with the other men and they continue east on W 46th.

 


I figured out the location of the wide shot of the truck driving north on Sixth Avenue by looking up Galway Rose Bar, which appears in the background. After a little digging around, I found a photo of the bar, but couldn’t find an address. But the photo also showed an awning for “George Rallis Inc,” which was next door to the Galway Rose and had a building number of 805. Fortunately, there was more info online about that business, which turned out to be a long-running florist, located in the “flower district” on Sixth Avenue. 

A photo taken sometime in the 1970s, featuring Galway Rose Bar and George Rallis Florist.

So, from there, I figured out that the truck traveled north on Sixth, going through W 28th Street, heading towards the ESB (appearing on the far right, but with its iconic spire cut off by the frame).

The second half of this sequence where Socks is picked up by the truck was fairly easy to figure out. The Howard Johnson’s restaurant was a clear-cut landmark which placed the action on 46th and Broadway in Times Square. And the former High School of Performing Arts on West 46th Street (famous for being the school that inspired the 1980 film, Fame) helped me figure out where Socks was standing.

Created in 1947, the High School offered programs in music, dance and drama. Many well-known performers were trained there, such as Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Jennifer Aniston, Ving Rhames, and Suzanne Vega. The staff included several professionals in the business, including a young Sidney Lumet, who would later feature this building in this film. (See? It’s all connected!)

Performing Arts

In 1984, the school was moved to Lincoln Center, where it became known as the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.  In 1988, the vacant Performing Arts building on 46th Street caught fire during renovation, causing much damage, but most of its stone exterior survived. After reconstructing most of the interior, the building reopened in 1995 as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of International Careers, with a plaque commemorating the former school.

 

Picking Up Pop

The truck travels north on 3rd Avenue, passing through the intersection of E 70th Street. .
It continues through the intereection, passing the large residential building at 1210 3rd Avenue.
Pop waits on the corner, across from the First National Bank of New York (now part of Citibank) at 1275 Madison Avenue.
The Mayflower truck comes up Madison Avenue and and turns the corner.
Somewhat nervous and confused, Pop is coaxed into the truck.
 

It didn’t take me too long to find the location of the wide shot of the truck traveling up an avenue. I thought it looked like it took place on the Upper East Side, so I just cruised up and down eastern avenues in Google Street View, looking for those large residential buildings, which I figured were most likely still around. About 20 minutes later, I matched up 1210 3rd Avenue on the corner of E 70th Street.

What surprised me was how much effort it took me to find the corner that Pop stood on, especially since it turned out to be on the same block as the Convent of the Sacred Heart, where the extended robbery sequence took place.

Oblivious that he was standing in front of the same building featured later in the film (where Garrett Morris’ character leans a bike against it), I instead focused on the bank across the street. Seeing that it was the First National Bank of New York, I tried to find a record of the Manhattan branch locations in old magazines and newspapers, but couldn’t find an exhaustive list online. I also tried to find a reference to the “Yankee Kitchen” on the other corner, but I couldn’t hone my online results. Then, after I discovered that the First National Bank of New York later became Citibank, I started looking for current locations in Upper Manhattan (where I suspected the scene took place) and eventually came across the branch at 1275 Madison Avenue which matched the film.

So basically, the truck picks him up half a block from the apartment building where the robbery took place.

 

The Robbery

The truck pulls in front of 1 E 91st Street and backs up into the vestibule.
Later on, a police captain walks by the apartment building, trying to get a lay of the land. He turns south onto 5th Avenue to meet up with his command unit.
Lieutenant Everson is enlisted to ride a bike past the building, pedaling east on E 91st Street.
He passes the section where the building at 7 E 91st Street connects with 1 E 91st.
He continues east on the bicycle, scoping out the buildings he’s going to have to scale and traverse.
He gets off the bike and leans it against 1274 Madison Avenue (the same building Pop stood in front of earlier). Everson and his team then enter the building to gain access to the roof.
After realizing the cops are moving in on them, Spencer and Jimmy get into the Mayflower truck and speed out of there, ramming into several police cars.
After the truck crashes, Spencer and Jimmy are pulled out of the wreckage. Then, the Kid rams the van out of the back of the truck and speeds north on Fifth Avenue, passing the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum on the left.
The van spins out of control and flips over in front of 1 E 91st Street on Fifth Avenue, killing the Kid.
At that point, the police storm the building, going through the front entrance.
They march up the ornate spiral staircase inside 1 E 91st Street searching for any more of the robbers.

 


As I mentioned earlier, most of the interiors were reportedly shot at a studio set, but a few of the interiors were shot on-location, including the ornate spiral staircase, both when the police raid the building and earlier in the film when Christopher Walken checks out the balcony. Apparently the Convent of the Sacred Heart can be rented for weddings, with the staircase and balcony being popular places to have photos taken.

During this robbery sequence, which makes up about a third of the movie’s running time, there are several memorable cameos by a host of delightful character actors. There’s future SNL star Garrett Morris as the bicycle-riding lieutenant, future patriarchal star of TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, Conrad Bain, as an assaulted therapist, and the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz, Margaret Hamilton, making her last big-screen appearance as one of the tenants (who may or may not be sharing her apartment with her lesbian lover).

A promotional photo for The Anderson Tapes, featuring Conrad Bain, best known as Mr. Drummond in the TV sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes, and stage actress Paula Trueman, who played bit parts in films throughout the 70s and 80s.
A group of tenants are held hostage, including Conrad Bain (left), Margaret Hamilton (center), and the elderly Judith Lowry (right), who’s probably best known for her recurring role on the sitcom Phyllis.

The one thing that always bothered me with this movie was the ending, where basically everyone in the gang either gets killed or arrested. The backstory is that Columbia Pictures made Lumet change the original ending, where Connery’s character escapes the building and heads for the state line, to the current ending, where none of the thieves get away with the crime. The movie studio supposedly insisted these changes be made in anticipation of eventually selling the film to network television which had a stricter “crime doesn’t pay” moral code.

I always thought this explanation sounded a bit far-fetched but I suppose it could be true. I just can’t imagine Lumet would change the ending just to satisfy some potential future TV censors. If push came to shove, I would think that he’d simply film an alternative ending for television. I definitely would have liked to have seen Duke Anderson escape the police, or at the very least, not see so many of his fellow thieves die in the process.

That being said, I do actually like the very ending of the film where all the government agencies realize that their surveillance programs have all inadvertently (and illegally) recorded Anderson, but they were still unable to prevent a major robbery from taking place. The last few seconds of the movie then shows all the “Anderson tapes” being erased from existence.

Despite some of its shortcomings, this little, oft-overlooked heist film is a fine addition to Lumet’s body of work. And it did end up being somewhat prescient, being completed mere months before a secret sound recording system was installed in the Oval Office, which would eventually lead to President Nixon’s resignation.

And today, who knows how often our voice is recorded or our picture is taken on daily basis?

 

 

 
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