Crocodile Dundee | 1986
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New York reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) flies out to Australia to get the story of a legendary outbacker who heroically survived a croc attack.
The little town of ‘Walkabout Creek’ to which she’s driven by Mick’s chum Walter (John Meillon) is McKinlay, on the Landsborough Highway, 990 miles from state capital Brisbane in the remote northwest of Queensland.
The Federal Hotel here was fitted with a false façade to become the rough-and-tumble ‘Walkabout Creek Inn’. After the unexpected worldwide success of the film, its name was changed to the Walkabout Creek Hotel, now expanded to become Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Hotel, 27 Middleton Street – although the hotel itself stands on the corner of Kirby Street and Wylde Street.
When Mick and Sue venture out into the bush to find the precise site of the attack, they travel well over 1,100 miles (by road) to Kakadu National Park, In the northeast of Northern Territory. At 20,000 square km, it’s Australia’s biggest national park.
A much easier way to visit is the three-hour drive southeast from Darwin.
Apart from its awesome landscapes, waterfalls, rainforests, wetlands and ancient rock art there’s exotic wildlife including – yes – saltwater crocodiles.
The first part of the drive is through Arnhem Land, the very northwest corner of the park. They encounter the buffalo on the road between the town of Jabiru and Gunbalanya, an Aboriginal community to the northeast. The buffalo's name was Charlie – and we'll be meeting him again.
To see the crocs and those mangroves, you can take a boat tour on Yellow Water Billabong, from Cooinda, on Kakadu Highway (21), about 35 miles southwest of Jabiru. Cooinda Lodge Kakadu will make a good base for your trip and take a Yellow Water Cruise.
I don't think I need to remind you to exercise caution around crocs. They really have been responsible for fatal attacks.
Mick and Sue’s first night is spent near Angbangbang Billabong, on the highway back toward Jabiru, where you’ll see Burrungui (formerly known as Nourlangie Rock), the huge plateau you can see in the background as Mike 'shaves' with his knife, and Sue determines to set off on her own. The rock, of great importance to the indigenous people and decorated with rock art, is a UNESCO World Heritage site
‘Echo Lake’, their ultimate destination where the pair swim and Mick spears a barramundi, is Gunlom Waterfall Creek, down toward the south of the park. The falls don't look particularly imposing in the film but they're seasonal and can become quite a forceful cascade. The alternative name, UDP (Uranium Development Project) Falls isn't so endearing, but is a reminder of the many uranium deposits and the controversial mining industry to extract the element.
If you’re a real fan of the film and want to meet one of the stars close-up, don’t miss the Adelaide River Inn, 106 Stuart Highway, in the town of Adelaide River, but a good a three-hour drive west from the Kakadu locations.
Pride of place, standing atop the Inn's bar, goes to Charlie, the buffalo sent gently to sleep in the road by Mick Dundee. Yes, he’s stuffed after living to a good age (and eventually dying of pneumonia).
After experiencing the bush, Sue feels it’s only fair to return the favour and invite the larger-than-life character to experience the wilds of New York.
After his first ever flight, Dundee touches down at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey. Newark is one of New York's three major airports, nine miles west of Manhattan but slightly closer to the city than JFK.
Mick is put up, with no expense spared, at the Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street. The 20-story French Chateau-style luxury hotel on Grand Army Plaza (hence the name) was built on this prime site at the southeast corner of Central Park in 1907.
It's a screen regular – it's from the hotel’s lobby that Cary Grant is abducted in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest and its, (now closed) Oak Room Restaurant was featured in both the original 1981 Arthur and in Scent of a Woman. The hotel is also seen in Barefoot In The Park, Network, Sleepless In Seattle, Home Alone II, The Cotton Club, Funny Girl, The Great Gatsby, King of New York, Plaza Suite (naturally) and The Way We Were.
After an evening out with Sue and her boorish boyfriend Richard, Mick asks the cab driver to take him to the nearest ‘boozer’.
This is by no means the nearest bar, but it’s worth the journey down to the East Village anyway. The lively bar, where the tall ‘sheila’ turns out to be… oh, you guessed?... a man in drag, is the 7B Horseshoe Bar (formerly known as PH Vazac's), 108 Avenue B at Seventh Street (hence the nickname Seven and B), at the southeast corner of Tompkins Square Park.
Popular in movies as an old-school neighbourhood bar, 7B Horseshoe Bar is where the Rosato brothers try to garrote Pentangeli in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II. It's also where Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets photos of Johnny Favorite in Alan Parker's Angel Heart, the 'Boston' local of Paul Newman in Sidney Lumet's 1982 drama The Verdict, the hangout in 1988's Five Corners, with Jodie Foster and Tim Robbins and in the 2005 musical Rent.
I love this bar. It's not the place if you want elegance and cocktails, but it's a good, down-to-earth friendly local to relax after a day’s location hunting.
Despite Richard, Sue is obviously warming to Mick, taking him on a whirlwind trip around NY's tourist sights – including viewing the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck (atop the Rockefeller Center), 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and sampling his first hot-dog in Times Square.
As a crowd watches the artistry in an Astor Place Hairstylists, 2 Astor Place at Broadway, in the East Village, Mick demonstrates his ability to fell a fleeing bag-snatcher with a can of soup.
By the way, Astor Place Hairstylists was founded in 1947 and is still going from strength to strength, though you can no longer peer through the window – it’s moved down to the basement.
When Sue and Mick exit the subway at Chambers Street Subway Station, there follows what is probably the film’s most famous scene, as Mick sees off an attempted mugging with the line “That’s not a knife. THAT’S a knife!”.
The station entrance is beneath the white-tiled arches of the South Arcade beneath the Municipal Building – now officially the David N Dinkins Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street at Chambers Street.
Things get a little complicated in that rom-commy way when Mick gets an invitation to dinner with Sue’s father – the newspaper owner – and Richard proposes to Sue in front of the assembled guests.
The house was built in 1912 for William Boyce Thompson, a copper magnate and Wall Street financier. After his death, his widow willed the home, with furnishings and its art, to the Archdioceses of New York, which for many years operated the premises as Elizabeth Seton College (and sold off much of the contents).
It's had various owners and fell into a state of disrepair but, since 2014, it’s been owned by the Lela Goren Group, which plans a major renovation to turn it into an arts and entertainment hub.
You might recognise Alder Manor as the grand mansion where John Nash (Russell Crowe) leaves his top-secret code-breaking results in Ron Howard’s 2001 A Beautiful Mind. It was also seen in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, Mona Lisa Smile and, um, Flesh For The Beast (from Terry M West, the acclaimed director of The Sexy Sixth Sense and Lord Of The G-Strings).
On the way back to the hotel Mick, who’s been drowning his sorrows, gets out of the limo in the middle of Times Square and goes for an ill-advised stroll around night-time New York – this was 1986, before the city’s big clean-up.
The scruffy alleyway where he bumps into the nasty pimp he encountered earlier is Cortlandt Alley, a low-life location frequently used for fight-scenes and murders, the stretch running between Walker Street and White Street, alongside Broadway south of Canal Street. Outnumbered, he’s only rescued from a beating by his vigilant chauffeur, Gus, improvising with a boomerang antenna.
Next day, the disillusioned Mick checks out of the Plaza and follows the doorman’s directions to the subway, from where he intends to set off to explore the rest of America.
He heads west on Central Park South to Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park. You’ll probably recognize the spot as the site of the political rally where Travis Bickle (Robert de Niro) questions the secret service guy in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Since 2003, the Circle and its monuments have been dwarfed by the massive redevelopment of the Time Warner Center.
Sue has, naturally, had a change of mind and chases after Mick from the Plaza before he can disappear for good.
Though she follows him down into Columbus Circle Station, the platform where Mick gets to walk across the heads of surprisingly good-natured travelers, it’s somewhere else entirely.
It's the disused lower level of the 9th Avenue Subway Station, at 9th Avenue and 39th Street in the Sunset Park district of Brooklyn. Closed since 1975, the same station was more recently used for that much nastier scene when Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) turns bloodily on three tormentors in Todd Phillips’ 2019 Joker.