Your favorite Rockaway movies

The Flamingo Kid
The Flamingo Kid

The Flamingo Kid

The recent release of the insufferable, hipster-caper Fort Tilden had us asking, what other movies were filmed in Rockaway? According to a location search on IMDb, there aren’t very many major releases. We should, however, do some introspection on why most of them are coming-of-age movies. Here then, are your favorite Rockaway movies:

No Looking Back (1998, directed by Edward Burns) is a coming-of-age movie set in a working class seaside town. Lauren Holly plays Claudia, a waitress who is torn between her boyfriend Michael (Jon Bon Jovi) and her ex-boyfriend Charlie (Ed Burns). The predictable love triangle ensues as Claudia struggles with repeating her mother’s mistakes (played by Blythe Danner). This is a low-key and uncomplicated movie, but made enjoyable by the fine performances turned in by the three lead actors. The film is supported by a soundtrack of 90s ballads by Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow and Patti Scialfa. The Rockaway of this movie seems to be a perpetual state of late-March: the fog and gloom and never-ending damp of a rain shower. The photography is high quality, and there are some great streetscapes of late 1990s Rockaway: the boardwalk, Beach 116th Street, Shore Front Parkway. The storefront of Blackwater (soon to be Brendan’s) is used quite a bit, and there is even a shot of the old Tubridy’s (now the site of Sweet Serenity Cupcakes). For pure nostalgia, we rate the representation of Rockaway in this movie ★★★★★. Available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

The Flamingo Kid (1984, directed by Garry Marshall) is a coming-of-age movie starring Matt Dillon as a Brooklyn kid who gets a summer job as a cabana boy. The plot is fairly dull and predictable, and lacks the punch of other mid-1980s teen movies like Porky’s. Most of the movie was filmed at the Silver Gull Beach Club, and there are some good shots of that beach, as well the roads around it, but not much else. If you go to the Silver Gull, you might enjoy the scenery, but otherwise we give this movie ★★ for the uninspiring snapshot of Rockaway. Available on DVD.

Radio Days (1987, directed by Woody Allen) is yet another coming-of-age story set in Rockaway in the 1930s and 1940s. Featuring Mia Farrow, Julie Kavner and a young Seth Green, the plot centers on the lives of a working-class Jewish family, replete with the angst of the Depression and World War II. Most of the film was shot in Rockaway, in what appears to be the Beach 90s. There are even a few glimpses of the Playland roller coaster in what must have been it’s last days before being torn down. The scenery in this movie was a pleasant surprise, and we rate it ★★★. Available on DVD.

Rockaway (2007, directed by Jeff Crook and Josh Crook) is a mindlessly violent vengeance movie. Nicholas Gonzalez plays a war hero who returns home to Rockaway after drug dealers murder his wife and child. The Rockaway of this movie is bleak and infested with Latino and Russian drug dealers. Most of the photography is of the elevated train and Rockaway Freeway, as well as the streets around Madeline Chocolate factory. We rate the representation of Rockaway in this movie . Available on DVD.

Rockaway (2005, directed by Mark Street) is another coming-of-age movie about three girls who are about to graduate high school. The movie is grindingly slow and features the typical teenage myopic storylines. However, there is some decent scenery of Beach 116th Street, Shore Front Parkway and Floyd Bennett Field. We rate the Rockaway of this movie ★★. Available on DVD.

Honorable Mentions, Film and TV:

Sophie’s Choice and Rescue Me both have some exterior shots of residential streets in upper Belle Harbor.

Boardwalk Empire has shots of Fort Tilden and the boardwalk.