November 17, 2016

Tudor City on Film: CIAO! MANHATTAN with Edie Sedgwick

This month's installment of Tudor City on Film examines Ciao! Manhattan, the semi-biographical story of Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol superstar and quintessential poor little rich girl. Other Warhol discoveries in the cast include Viva (a future superstar) and Baby Jane Holzer (a past one).

A self-proclaimed 'underground film,' the picture is beset by all the clichés of the genre: amphetamine-addled actors, a make-it-up-as-you-go-along scenario, and endless budget problems. Filming begins on Easter Sunday 1967 at the Central Park Be-In ‒ the first salvo of the counter-culture in New York. The Tudor City sequence is shot soon after. Why Tudor City? Convenience. David Weisman, co-writer/ co-director of the film, has an apartment in the rowhouse at 336 E. 43rd St., with Tudor City right outside his door.
The Tudor City sequence opens with Viva and pals hanging around the 42nd St. bridge.

On the other side of the bridge, Edie Sedgwick and Paul America (another Warhol protégé) take in the UN and East River.
Viva crosses Tudor City Place to say hello.
Prospect Tower and its Terrace Restaurant in the background.
Sedgwick leads the group around the corner to the Isaiah Wall for an impromptu photo shoot. Wrapped in a leopard-skin mini-coat, she drapes herself over the stairwell in a gravity-defying pose.
Sedgwick in full 'It Girl' mode, posing in front of  No. 45's fallout shelter sign. Hugging the corner of the frame is Baby Jane Holzer. The Girl of the Year in 1964, she was a bit player by 1967.

Shooting proceeds sporadically through the spring, then ceases altogether by summer when the financing finally fizzles out. Years pass, more cash is cobbled together, and the production resumes on the West Coast, where Sedgwick is now living. Hopelessly addicted to drugs by this time, she's in very bad shape, her 'performance' all too real.

Five years in the making, Ciao! Manhattan finally premieres in Europe in 1972, but has no general U.S. release until 1982, after a best-selling biography of Sedgwick makes her a cult figure. Though the picture is widely dismissed ‒ the "Citizen Kane of the drug movement" (the Village Voice), "Sunset Boulevard for real" (Time magazine) ‒ over time it too has become a cult item.


  1. Thanks - Loving this focus on the coolest neighb. in Manhattan... Tudor City!

  2. I need to see this! Fab post, Curt. xo

  3. Feel ever so "culchad" after reading your posts!

  4. I stayed in 336 a couple weeks working on Ciao! So many licks on the doors. The night I arrived to he sidewalk was crowded with parked Lincoln Towncars, for an event is at the Ford Foundation. David said it was no Jews, cause Jews don't drive Fords. The apartment was a little scary at first, but I felt safe when we got inside, it smelled like patchouli oil and candle wax, this was a familiar smell in those days