Sunday, January 12, 2020

Broadway & 88th St-- a John and Yoko Mystery

There is a video on Youtube called "Broadway and 88th St NYC -1971"  This little film is a time travel back to New York City in the early 1970s shot by Nicolas West.  He says, "When I was a teenager I took my movie camera down into the middle of Broadway in New York City (I grew up there) and filmed the neighborhood."


His film shows the shops around the areas while cars drive by and people walkabout, doing their business.  






Among the people walking around, there is a couple that looks a lot like John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  You can spot them at :53 seconds into the film.     West says, "What I didn't realize at the time was that as I was filming, John and Yoko walked right in front of me. You can see them crossing from right to left starting at :53 seconds into the film. This was 1971, they had just moved to New York and were living in the Village, but spent a lot of time in my neighborhood because there was a macrobiotic restaurant there, Souen, that they loved."


Of course, being the Beatles nerds that we are, this information can't be taken at face value.  Is the question is:  do we really see John and Yoko walking casually in this homemade film?    I want it to be them.    I love the idea of things being just as John said about how he can walk around the city and people don't bug him.    





Here is what a Lennon friend and I found out:  

  • The movies showing at the New Yorker were "The End of St. Petersburg" and "Bwana Toshi".   According to the New York Times, those two films were shown together at the New York beginning on November 23, 1970.  (NOT 1971 as the filmmaker thought).
  • John and Yoko arrived in New York City to work on some films on December 1, 1970.
  • One of the addresses of a shop nearby was 2906 Broadway.  That was quite a walking distance from the St. Regis Hotel where they were staying at the time.  (Two E. 55th Street)
  • The restaurant the filmmaker thought they might have been going to, Souen, did not open until 1971.   (although they did really eat there frequently).
  • The man in the film is wearing glasses and seems to have facial hair.  The woman next to him is the same heigh difference as we see between J&Y.   

Here are  photographs of John and Yoko from early December 1970




I really can't' decide what my final decision on this is.  I keep going back and forth.   On the one hand, it is possible for it to be them because they were in New York City at the same time as those films were being shown.    The jacket looks sort of like the one John is wearing.  One the other hand. why would they be carrying what looks like groceries far from where they were located?   You really cannot see the woman in the shot.   Everything is so grainy on these old films that it is hard to make out details.   

So we thought we'd throw it out to you -- the Lennon fans of the world.  What is your take?


12 comments:

  1. For those who aren’t on Facebook, I solved the mystery. Here’s what I posted in a Lennon Facebook group:

    Time to settle this once and for all!

    The two films in question are the 1965 Japanese film “Bwana Toshi,” and the 1927 Russian film “The End Of St. Petersburg.” They opened up at the New Yorker Theater on Saturday, November 21, 1970, as part of a series of Japanese and Russian film. They played for three days, and then on Tuesday, November 24th they were replaced by two new movies, the Japanese “Floating Weeds” and the Russian “Mother.”

    Therefore, that film was shot sometime between November 21 and November 23, 1970. John and Yoko arrived in the United States on December 1, 1970. As cool as this film is, it does NOT feature John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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  2. it dosen't look like John ...I think

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  3. Great post! Could be John, but this does not look like Yoko.

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  4. I'm stealing Scott Raile's reply to this from another group, so that we might stop this once and for all. "The two films in question are the 1965 Japanese film “Bwana Toshi,” and the 1927 Russian film “The End Of St. Petersburg.” They opened up at the New Yorker Theater on Saturday, November 21, 1970, as part of a series of Japanese and Russian film. They played for three days, and then on Tuesday, November 24th they were replaced by two new movies, the Japanese “Floating Weeds” and the Russian “Mother.”
    Therefore, that film was shot sometime between November 21 and November 23, 1970. John and Yoko arrived in the United States on December 1, 1970. As cool as this film is, it does NOT feature John Lennon and Yoko Ono."

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  5. 1. There were thousands of men in NYC with sideburns in 1970. 2. There were hundreds of thousands of men who had girlfriends and/or wives (and/or women who were friends) in NYC in 1970. 3. Women are generally shorter than men.

    Seeing as J&Y lived nowhere near where this was shot, and - at this point in time, anyway - they tended to travel by cab or car when traveling outside their immediate neighborhood, I'd say...not chance.

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  6. Yeah, the walking movements are just like them. The height, the hair, you can even see part of his shoes/boots, and all is fine to me. Yeah, sure, could be them.

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  7. After watching several times I think it's J&Y. It was my instinct on first view. And if not, imagine....

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  8. Black framed glasses and doesn't walk like John. I'm guessing not.

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  9. Very intriguing! Looks like them, but the guy doesn't have that "bounce" in the walk like John. Wow!

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  10. Well it has been official debunked. And is NOT John and Yoko (Thank you Scott Raile!) It was a fun while it lasted and I love digging into things like this. But just think -- there were times when J&Y WERE walking around NYC just like this couple.

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  11. I don't think it's John&Yoko too. I don't recongnize Yoko on this short videos sequences. The height, and the hair, is not revealed Yoko.The guy look like John, but how many people looks like John Lennon in 1970? I'm not sure, but i don't think it's John&Yoko. :)

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