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Friday April 12th 2024

Angel Heart | 1987

When a guy called Lou Ciphre (Robert De Niro) hires PI Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) to track down a debtor, it’s clear from the character names we’re not in for a straightforward crime thriller.

Despite the Fifties setting, director Alan Parker makes great use of real locations in New York and Louisiana.

The scuzzy New York of the period was recreated around the 19th Century tenements of Eldridge Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where the sudden appearance of 1955 prices in shop windows nearly led to riots.

Although the same area is also used for some of the Harlem scenes, the Mission and the procession are the real Harlem, as is the ‘Lincoln Presbyterian Hospital’ where Angel visits bandleader Spider, which was shot at Harlem Hospice which stood on 138th Street.

Down in the East Village, you can find the bar where Angel gets pictures of his target, Johnny Favorite. It’s 7&B Horseshoe Bar (Vazac's), 108 Avenue B at Seventh Street. It's a familiar ‘lowlife atmosphere’ bar seen in plenty of other movies including Crocodile Dundee and, most famously, it's the bar where the Rosato brothers attempt to garotte Pentangeli in The Godfather Part II.

The ‘Poughkeepsie’ nursing home where Angel impersonates a hospital inspector is Wilderstein, a 19th-century Queen-Anne-style country house in Rhinebeck on the Hudson River, upstate New York, which had been home to the former secretary, recently deceased, to Franklin D Roosevelt.

The neighbourhood of sweaty junkie Dr Fowler, supposedly at 419 Kitteredge, was filmed over on Staten Island.

In Brooklyn, the venerable Coney Island on the South Shore, repainted glumly to suit the film’s monochrome look, serves as the rundown, rat-infested amusement park where Angel looks for Madame Zora.

And on to New Orleans, sort of. Angel’s arrival in Louisiana by train was shot at Hoboken Railway Station, New Jersey, just over the Hudson River from Manhattan, a wonderful old terminus seen in Funny Girl, Three Days Of The Condor and Kal Ho Naa Ho.

The real Big Easy shooting was largely around the Victorian houses and shops in New Orleans' old Irish section along Magazine Street. Confusingly, the flashbacks to a post-war NY Times Square were also filmed in New Orleans.

The touristy shots of New Orleans take in the arches by the market on Decatur Street and St Peter Street alongside St Louis Cathedral.

The streetcar is the main St Charles Avenue Line, and the house of Margaret Krusemark (Charlotte Rampling) was a boarded-up property behind Royal Street, while the old slave quarters at the back doubled as Angel’s hotel.

Running parallel to Magazine Street is Constance Street, where you’ll find St Alphonsius, 2029 Constance Street, the church where Angel indulges in a little profane language.

The racetrack, though, doesn’t exist – it was specially built in an empty field, and a disused New Orleans bus depot was transformed into the gumbo shack where Margaret’s father gets his face boiled.

The plantation at which Angel meets up with Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet) is real enough though. It’s the Laurel Valley Village Museum, 595 Highway 308, a perfectly preserved sugar plantation dating from 1832.

The plantation once covered 5,000 acres and is pretty much as seen in the movie – only the cemetery is faked.

It’s two miles south of Thibodeaux, on Route 1, 50 miles west of New Orleans on the Bayou Lafouche.

The ’Red Rooster’, where Angel meets up with Toots Sweet (Brownie McGhee) is actually the popular Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak Street, New Orleans, a smallish, tin-ceilinged music bar with the best of local blues, Cajun and R&B.

This is a basic entry and due to be expanded.