Review: As all-star whodunits go, ‘Glass Onion’ has enormous appeal for its unique mix of history, mystery, and intrigue. In part the result of writer/director John Schlesinger’s effort to make the story about a very small New York restaurant open to the public as real as possible, the film is a great mix of historical drama and psychological suspense. The best part is that the mystery is the kind that most of us can appreciate.
As the film began in 1935, the year when George Abbott opened the famous Blue Angel on New York’s Lower East Side, there was a great deal of hype about a certain New York restaurant, the Glass Onion. This was as much due to the popularity of the Blue Angel as anything else. Indeed, it was the success of Abbott’s Blue Angel that helped make it possible for the Glass Onion to open.
When Abbott opened the Blue Angel, he was desperate for a new and fashionable place to serve meals in the Lower East Side. He wanted to create a place where he could show his guests how much he loved New York and the American way. He had a vision of how these people could go to a restaurant and they could simply enter, with no fuss, and enjoy their meal. He saw it as a place where his guests would arrive without carrying heavy purses or bags. He saw the restaurant as a place where he could create a welcome that would not only attract the business of the city, but the customers as well.
After three years, Abbott died and the Blue Angel closed. A restaurant called the Glass Onion opened. The building was owned by a small Italian immigrant family and they were looking for a location that would be a perfect fit. They found an empty block in a neighborhood just outside of where I had been born. And as any other big city, you know that the city is full of block lots. They would go from location to location, but no one would believe how small that block was, especially when compared to