Decoder Ring

The Tootsie Shot

Making it in the city, against all odds.


Episode Notes

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Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

You know the Tootsie Shot. It’s that shot from the movies: a really busy midtown street, protagonist smack in the middle of it all, everyone going somewhere. It’s one of the most recognizable shots in film. It can be found in Working Girl, Midnight Cowboy, Wall Street, Heartburn, Elf, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Devil Wears Prada, The Wolf of Wall Street, and so many more. This is a short, transitional moment that often comes in the middle of a montage and takes up 30 seconds max, and sometimes just two or three. It’s just someone walking down a crowded street. So why is it so sticky?

Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include James Sanders, author of Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies; cinematographer Adam Holender; producer Anna Wenger; assistant director Joe Reidy, author Christopher Bonanos, media and entertainment lawyer Sam Bayard, and location manager Mara Alcaly. Also thanks to Jason Bailey, Sam Levy, Glenn Kenney, Carlo Mirabella-Davis, J.D. Amato, David Sims, Bill Parker, Doug Brody, Sean Fennessey, and Jody Rosen.


This episode was produced by Willa Paskin and Benjamin Frisch.


About the Show

In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

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