Martin Scorsese is easily one of the best directors of our time, but many forget that he is a film historian as well. However, if one were to look at Scorsese’s body of works, one could begin to imagine the Queens-born virtuoso as being a mob historian too, for his many successful gangster films that have looked at American society through the lens of crime. Scorsese grew up in Little Italy at a time when wiseguys roamed the streets and the Five Families in New York were very much operational. With his mob epic, ‘The Irishman’ being called one of his greatest works, if not his best, Scorsese has turned to his familiar turf to shoot the film.
While Scorsese has cited several notable directors like Satyajit Ray and Federico Fellini as being influential to his cinematic style, there is no denying that the director was also influenced by his surroundings in Little Italy. Being an avid fan of music, rock ‘n’ roll in particular, and movies, Martin Scorsese was a flaneur in New York City, haunting cinema halls and musical venues. This is best reflected in the excellent choice of locations in ‘The Irishman’.
‘The Irishman’ revolves around Frank Sheeran, who worked for Bufalino crime family. Sheeran ultimately claimed responsibility for the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the American labor leader. Notably, Hoffa was a high-profile figure back in the day, and his disappearance continues to baffle authorities to this date.
The Irishman Filming Locations
Since Scorsese and the film crews had to turn most of the locations to reflect the time when the story is set, you might not recognize some of the places, even if you happen to go by them every day. We have got you covered in this regard, as we bring you all the locations where ‘The Irishman’ was filmed.
Paterson and Suffern, New York
Although most of the actual story is set in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Scorsese stuck to his familiar territory in New York, and still managed to establish the setting perfectly. An important aspect of the movie is a car drive taken by Sheeran and the crime boss, Russell Bufalino. While they are actually attending a wedding in Ohio, Scorsese shot this in upstate New York, including Paterson, New Jersey and the Orange Top Diner in Tuxedo.
Other important scenes that might jump out is when Sheeran makes a stop to call Hoffa at the Sunoco gas station. People around Sloatsburg might recognize the place as Jessie’s Bagels café. Even Lafayette Avenue in Suffern was completely redecorated for the movie.
In Paterson, most of the filming included exterior shots. Marcia Sotorrio, the cultural affairs director of the city, spoke about it, saying how most of the filming took place from inside the car, looking out. The car drove through the city’s historic district which is around the Great Falls National Historical Park, including Totowa, Wayne, and McBride Avenues, as well as Birch, Market, and Spruce streets. Notably, the crew was taken in after seeing the location in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Paterson’, and wanted to scout it for ‘The Irishman’.
In Suffern, the da Nina Italian Restaurant on Lafayette Avenue was chosen. The second floor was where the shooting took place, while the first floor was used as a staging area. Aurelius Licata, the president of the Suffern Chamber of Commerce, has stated that other filming locations include Forgia Brick Oven Pizzeria, Licata Management Corp., apart from the corner where Rob’s School of Music is located.
Kip Myers, the location manager, spoke about how the ‘period aspect storefronts’, hilly roads, and distance from New York, were all motivating factors in choosing Suffern as a filming location. Other local scenes that can be seen include the former Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center in Pomona, the truck stop near the Great Hunger Memorial in Elmsford, and a Stuckey’s convenience store.
Queens and Long Island, New York
‘The Irishman’ shows the entire life of Frank Sheeran, so when we delve into the past, we are taken to Philadelphia’s Italian Market area, which was actually recreated in Ridgewood. Scorsese went to his birthplace, that is, Queens, to make the best use of the old neighborhoods.
Other notable moments of the film have also taken place in recognizable locations, including the baptism scene, for which the St Matthias church on Catalpa Avenue was used, and the conversation between Frank and his estranged daughter, which takes place at the Central Savings Bank on 30th Avenue, in Astoria. Notably, the church also doubled as the Villa di Roma restaurant in Philadelphia.
Scorsese traveled deeper into Long Island for some of the other scenes. The Teamsters Local 299 building was filmed in Mineola, as was a local Chicago diner, for which Biscuits & Barbeque on East 2nd Street was used. Len’s Dairy & Grocery was hosted in Williston Park, while Huntington Station’s Rodeway Inn was turned to the Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn.
Sheeran’s secret air trip took place at Shirley’s Brookhaven Calabro Airport. Reports suggest other locations on Long Island include private houses in Great Neck and Atlantic Beach, the Harry Tappen Marina in Hempstead Harbor, and the Hempstead Town Hall. The interiors for Miami’s Deauville Hotel was actually filmed at Leonard’s Palazzo.
Hudson Valley, Staten Island and Bronx
For the rest of the film, Scorsese traveled to the Hudson Valley. Filming took place at Weir’s Ice Cream in Salisbury Mills. Meanwhile, on Staten Island, Detroit’s Nemo’s Bar & Grill was recreated at Lee’s Tavern in Dongan Hills, which is the site of a car explosion. The scene where Jimmy Hoffa testifies to Congress has reportedly been shot at the Bronx County Civil Court lobby. Van Nest Bowling Alley also features as part of a Sheeran family outing.
For one scene, Scorsese and his crews ventured into Manhattan, quite close to Little Italy in fact. To show the hit on Crazy Joe Gallo, the crews brought back Umberto’s Clam House as it was in 1972. Scorsese had the restaurant rebuilt on the corner of Orchard and Broome Street, going as far as to add a sticker for a Bette Midler show, at The Bitter End Club, which has its own rich history of music in Greenwich Village.
By now, you already know that New York and several other places stand-in for Detroit. We have already spoken about how the explosion on Michigan Avenue took place in 1975, near the Tiger Stadium. Furthermore, we have also mentioned how the Teamsters Local building, which was actually on Trumbull Street, was recreated in Long Island. Shooting in and around New York allowed Scorsese to film several scenes in one day, saving time.
Hoffa can be seen talking in his Lake Orion Home, in the movie, which was actually shot in Putnam County in the Lower Hudson Valley. A key moment is when Hoffa disappears from in front of the Machus Red Fox restaurant on Telegraph Road. It is actually filmed in Suffern, and the location is showed to be quieter than it is. The crew has stood by the decision since it is tougher to change a highly populated commercial spot to reflect a particular time period. Hoffa’s alleged assassination in a modest Detroit house was actually filmed in White Plains, New York.
Scorsese and the crew felt that every place could be faked and recreated realistically except for Florida, which is why they obtained permission to film around the Ocean Terrace in Miami.
In conclusion, it is evident that a lot of thought and effort has gone into choosing the locations to be realistic while being pragmatic for the filming of ‘The Irishman’ as well. Anyone familiar with Scorsese’s work, even where he is executive producing, as is the case in ‘Boardwalk Empire‘, will know how much of a stickler he is in getting the smaller details right. Thus, ‘The Irishman’ becomes an immersive experience that transports us to a different time, enthralling us with the tale the master director weaves.
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