Sleepers, 1996



visit the film locations

New York

Flights: JFK Airport

Drink at: the Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal Street at Minetta Lane, Greenwich Village (tel: 212.475.3850)

Eat at: the Market Diner, 572 11th Avenue (tel: 212.244.2888).


Minetta Street, off Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village, was home to Al Pacino in Serpico

Sleepers film location: McHale's, Eighth Avenue, New York

Sleepers film location: John and Tommy take their revenge: McHale’s (now gone), Eighth Avenue, New York

Barry Levinson’s film of Lorenzo Carcatera’s revenge melodrama should have been harrowing but, despite a top-drawer cast, comes across as contrived. Supposedly based on a true story, no one seems able to find any record of the events.

Brooklyn, stands in for New York’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ neighbourhood, which has been radically redeveloped since the 60s, when the film begins. The ‘Church of the Holy Angels’ of Father Bobby (Robert De Niro) is Most Holy Trinity, 138 Montrose Avenue in Williamsburg.

Sleepers film location: Astor Place subway, Fourth Avenue, New York

Sleepers film location: the reckless joke goes horribly wrong: Astor Place subway station, Fourth Avenue, New York

The canopied subway station, where a reckless jape goes so horribly wrong, is Astor Place, Fourth Avenue at Stuyvesant Street, over in the East Village.

The terrible consequence sees four boys sent to the grim ‘Wilkinson Home for Boys, Breckenridge’, which is Fairfield Hills Hospital, Mile Hill Road, a facility for the mentally disabled near Newtown, Connecticut. It’s here that their lives are made hell by sadistic guard Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon).

Years later, the adult John (Ron Eldard) and Tommy (Billy Crudup) take revenge on Nokes in McHale’s, a great old bar which stood at 750 Eighth Avenue at 46th Street. You might remember McHale’s as the hangout of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes in 1995’s Money Train, but now there’s nothing but a gleaming office block on the site.

King Benny (Vittorio Gassman, who played the Al Pacino role in the original Italian Scent of a Woman), has a quiet word at the Market Diner, 572 11th Avenue at West 43rd Street.

The grand but faded HQ of Little Caesar, the older brother of Rizzo who died in the Wilkinson home, is Loew’s Kings Theater, 1049 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, closed since 1977 (seen also in Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth). The theatre is currently undergoing a massive programme of renovation.

The murder trial seems to be taking place in the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street at Chambers Street (though a quick insert shot tries to sell the location as the United States Courthouse), but the interior was actually filmed at Yonkers, in the County Courthouse, 100 South Broadway, New York State.

Michael Sullivan (Brad Pitt) and ‘Shakes’ (Jason Patric) discuss the future in the Municipal Building’s colonnaded entrance, before Sullivan disappears into the Chambers Street subway station.

The four friends meet up for a final celebration in the Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal Street at Minetta Lane, Greenwich Village. A speakeasy, called The Black Rabbit, during Prohibition, the tavern was something of a literary a hangout, for the likes of Ezra Pound, e e cummings, Ernest Hemingway and Eugene O’Neill. All that, and Reader’s Digest was founded in the tavern’s basement in 1923. You can glimpse the Minetta in the original Shaft.


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