80 years ago this week, the Chrysler Building was completed, becoming at that time the tallest building in the world. It surpassed the Bank of Manhattan Trust building (aka 40 Wall Street), which had only just been finished the month prior. And within another year, it too was passed over in favor of the Empire State Building. Yet, even as more and more buildings around the globe reached to greater heights, the Chrysler Building has remained one of the most recognizable landmarks in any city thanks to its distinct Art Deco architecture, designed by William Van Allen. In honor of its birthday, and because it's one of my favorite skyscrapers in the world, let alone in NYC, I'd like to celebrate its appearance in films over the past eight decades (click on the links to watch clips).
The building was cast prominently in movies immediately. Originally, King Kongproducer Merian C. Cooper envisioned the giant ape climbing up the New York Life Building, but he changed the location once construction of the Chrysler was complete. And if the movie had been shot two years earlier, one of the most iconic images in film history would look a little different. But of course the Empire State Building's greater height demoted the Chrysler to a mere extra. Or, maybe not that low. Five years ago, the New York Times quoted New York film scholar James Sanders, who referred to the building as worthy of an award for "Best Supporting Skyscraper." And like a great character actor it steals every scene or shot it's in.