According to the City of Chicago, more than 700 movies have been made in the area. They range from cartoons and silent films from the turn of the 1900s. From the hey day of the studio Essanay that had Ben Turpin and Charlie Chaplin, to this century’s Batman, Superman and Transformers hero movies. In between are treasured films of unlikely heroes like “The Blues Brothers” and “A League of Their Own.” These six films are worth seeing for a variety of reasons from talented acting, directing and filming to Chicago scenes and storyline.To see the City of Chicago’s full movie list click here.
The Blues Brothers
Not everyone knows what movies have been shot in Chicago but The Blues Brothers often comes to mind. A 1980 Universal Studios film starring then Saturday Night Live celebs John Belushi and Dan Akykroyd, the movie’s funny, hold-your-breath chase scenes end at City Hall. The movie chronicles Belushi as paroled convict Jake Blues and Akykroyd as brother Elwood Blues, entertaining inmates. Their mission was to pull together their old R&B group to raise the necessary funds to pay the property tax bill of the Catholic orphanage where they were raised. Along the way, they pick up a gaggle of pursuers and preform R&B classics fromstars as Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Steve Lawrence, James Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Carrie Fisher, Twiggy, John Candy, Henry Gibson and Charles Napier.
Another movie shot in Chicago is the 1993 Warner Bros. film based on the 1960s Fugitive TV series by Roy Huggins. This movie also revolves around the pursuit of the main character. The plot centers around Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) and his escape to prove his innocence of his wife’s murder. Tommy Lee Jones is US Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard who leads his pursuers. Directed by Andrew Davis, the movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
North By Northwest
Chicago seems to attract chase movies but not everyone will remember that North By Northwest, a 1959 classic Alfred Hitchcock/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer thriller was partially shot in the city. Foreign spies mistake New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) for government agent George Kaplan. Thornhill has to keep escaping spy Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) and his crew by trying to tie up with Kaplan. Starting in New York, the film ends at Mt. Rushmore. The middle of the film takes place in Chicago where Thornhill meets secret government agent Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).
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The Dark Knight
Residents of Chicago in 2007 may recall street closures when The Dark Knight was filmed. Released in 2008, it was a sequel to Batman Begins, filmed in Chicago in 2005, based on the DC Batman Comics. The film stars Christian Bale again as Bruce Wayne (Batman), Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. It also introduced the Joker played by Heath Ledger who died after filming but before the movie was released. The movie received eight Oscar nominations and Ledger was awarded Best Supporting Actor posthumously.
Filmed in 1973, The Sting takes place in 1936 when Paul Newman as Henry “Shaw” Gondorff and Robert Redford as Johnny “Kelly” Hooker pull off a complicated con against mob boss Doyle Lonnegan played by Robert Shaw. A cool film that used old-style lettering, tints and Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” rag to set the mood. The film was nominated for 10 Oscars. Marvin Hamlish adopted the Joplin tune for the movie. The film won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Directed by George Roy Hill and written by David S. Ward, it is based on real cons done by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff as outlined in the Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer.The dialogue refers to Chicago and area characters and places. Scenes were shot at Universal Studios, Chicago’s Union Station and the former LaSalle Street Station.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a bonus choice for fans of John Hughes and Chicago landmarks. A Paramount Picture 1986 release, the movie was written, directed and produced by Hughes to showcase Chicago. High school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) decides to take a day’s vacation from school by visiting Chicago’s scenic and tourism spots with best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara). Their escape to the city is in Frye’s father’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible. Scenes are shot in Chicago’s northern suburbs and in the city.
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Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.