Lost Chicago, found on film

I do this as well: look at old movies and try to figure out how old neighborhoods have changed. Richard Linklater's docu-drama about my college years (well, and others lives as well), filmed in the area around the University of Texas memorializes several buildings, cafés, and neighborhoods that are now defunct, or drastically changed.

Patrick Reardon writes:

"Call Northside 777 (Fox Film Noir)" (Henry Hathaway)


More than half a century ago, during the filming of "Call Northside 777" in Chicago, Jimmy Stewart walked up the sidewalk and entered a tavern at 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave. Behind him was a typical street scene of the era -- a row of close-packed commercial buildings, of which Kosinski Jewelers with its large sign was most prominent.

On a recent morning, I went to that neighborhood. The tavern's still there, although now it's an art gallery, Roots & Culture, more befitting its gentrifying community. But Kosinski Jewelers and the other stores across the street are long gone, demolished in the late 1960s in a slum-clearance project to make way for a low-rise residential development.

So, for me, "Call Northside 777" isn't just a movie. It's a time capsule of Chicago in 1948.

[From Lost Chicago, found on film -- chicagotribune.com]

Mr. Readron lists six other Chicago-centric films:

City That Never Sleeps - VHS only, but sounds quite interesting. Why hasn't this been released on DVD yet?

"Medium Cool" (Paramount)

It's a true you-are-there moment, one of many in a documentary-like film that was revolutionary in both technique and purpose.

In the movie, director Haskell Wexler is telling a fictional story against the backdrop of real Chicago -- the real Uptown neighborhood with its real poverty; the real South Side with real Black Power militants, such as artist Jeff Donaldson; and the real Grant Park where real police officers were beating up real protesters while one of Wexler's actors (Verna Bloom, in a bright yellow dress) moves along the edges of the violence.

"Medium Cool" is a time capsule that records more than a building that's gone (the Amphitheatre) and another that's been drastically altered (Soldier Field). It documents, to a degree unprecedented in a feature film, Chicagoans at a quintessential moment in the city's history.

"Cooley High" (Michael Schultz)

The so-called black American Graffiti, set in Cabrini-Green, in a now defunct high school located at Division and Sedgewick.

"The Blues Brothers (Widescreen 25th Anniversary Edition)" (Universal Studios)

1980 Chicago, captured with typical John Belushi zany antics. I actually haven't seen this in years, perhaps time for a revisit.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off Bueller...Bueller... Edition (Special Collector's Edition)" (Paramount)

Came out the summer of my high school graduation. I doubt it had any impact upon my decision to move to Chicago years later, but one never knows the power of subconscious yearnings. Austin is cool, but it is no city.

"Only the Lonely" (Chris Columbus)

Ummm, I don't think so. Looks a bit insipid for my taste. Maybe if it plays on television?

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 30, 2008 11:51 AM.

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