Alex Theater

3826 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 26 - 50 of 69 comments

GFeret on May 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

i don’t mind repeating myself that the old monster movies i looked up @ legion of decency were rated CONDEMNED. a slight disappoinment at my age then but also irrevelant i confess, and looking back it now it made its own kind of sense, those things could be condemned for any number of reasons by any right thinking person, which viewpoint is comfortably irrelvant.

Scott on May 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Bobby. Yes, we’ve sunk pretty low morally and I don’t see us turning back anytime soon. The commercials I see during a televised baseball game today would have been rated “condemned” when we were kids. It’s all out there in the open now. I do remember the Byrd Theatre – vaguely. It seems most of my memories from the 50s are vague now. The Paradise made a much bigger impression on me, despite the poor acoustics that supposedly did it in.

BobbyS on May 15, 2013 at 7:59 am

HI SCOTT. Kids have it made today if they wish to see a “condemned” movie. With so many screens under one roof, they can just buy a ticket into a “safe” film and just walk into the film of choice. I have never seen anyone checking. So much of it is on TV & the web, its really a farce. Morals in this counrty have been on the slide down for years. The Alex was never my first choice. Only remember it as the last resort. I had more fun at the Byrd.

Scott on May 15, 2013 at 7:14 am

I was a Lutheran so I didn’t have this problem. But then, my mom had her own Legion Of Decency system that she enforced rather strictly. I grew up not far from the Alex but only recall going there 2 or 3 times. I spent more time at the bowling that was a block or so from there – Cascade Lanes was the name I think?

KenC on May 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Oops- that last word should be conscience. It’s late, time for bed.

KenC on May 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm

To GFeret- Growing up Catholic in the 1950s, and a big fan of monster/horror/ sci fi movies, I not only read the movie listings in the Sun Times, but also The New World. They had the Legion of Decency ratings: A1, A2, A3, B (Morally Objectionable In Part For All), and the most severe rating C (Condemned). To my knowledge, no monster movie was ever condemned. Most got an A2 or A3 rating. But a few were were rated B, and these come to mind (along with , I’m guessing, the reasons): “INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN” (teenagers making out in lovers lane), “NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST” (a pregnant man!), “THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST” (Reincarnation- can’t have little kids and teenagers questioning their faith- and a not so subtle suggestion of woman and ape mating), and “I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN” (more lovers lane scenes and man playing god). The C rating went to mostly foreign films- virtually all of Brigitte Bardot movies were condemned, along with a few American films. If memory serves, viewing a C rated movie was a mortal sin, but seeing a B rated film was only a venial sin(?).Anyway, that’s the way it was back then. Fun times- with only a SLIGHTLY guilty conscious!

BobbyS on May 14, 2013 at 8:39 am

The more condemned they were, the more interesting the movie was…..and the ALEX was THE place to see them.

GFeret on May 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

i checked myself back then, i wasn’t looking up anything but ‘monster movies’, they all came up Condemned. I went regardless

BobbyS on May 13, 2013 at 9:31 am

Always amazed me how the church said it was ok to see a monster attacking & eating & killing people, but a no no for Monroe to suggest something a little more tame. Especially what we know today..

amoswald on May 13, 2013 at 7:47 am

I went to most of the monsterovies. Mom checked the listings so the could not have bee B or C. Those ratings were reserved for Hotchcock, Monroe, Bardot and the like. Sex and violence combined.

GFeret on May 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

“….monster movies classified B by Catholic Legion of Decency”. actually back then the Legion of Decency typical gave those movies their CONDEMNED classification I do recall

DavidZornig on April 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Just added 2 images of a 1926 Hamlin Theatre program, courtesy of Bruce Kelleher. Though 1925 is written along the top, all the films were released in 1926.

amoswald on February 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Guys, if you loved the Alex, you gotta check out this story. Saturday at the Movies New Link

BobbyS on February 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

So very true…..The nuns & priests always told us to stay away from the dangers of the Alex theater. They thought it would endanger our young minds for the worse. Just like our parents when they were told Mae West was the devil and all of her films should be avoided, they flocked to them and thought she was fabulous….

KenC on February 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Yes, that is a nice shot of the Alex. Never saw a photo before. But I do remember looking at the movie listings in the Sun Times in the mid to late 50s . On Fridays, the ads for the Alex were quite large- larger than most other neighborhood theatres. Almost always a triple feature- two horror films with a western, or whatever. Vividly recall “UNKNOWN TERROR” plus “BACK FROM THE DEAD”… “FROM HELL IT CAME” plus “THE DISEMBODIED”… “HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER” plus “TEENAGE CAVEMAN” and thinking gee, I wish I lived nearby!As a little kid, I was afraid to travel to the west side. In 1969, a co-worker told me he went to school on the west side, and the nuns told the students not to go to the Alex ; they showed BAD movies. Not bad as in silly, or bad acting…I’m sure the good sisters meant morally bad. Some of the monster movies were classified “B” by the Catholic Legion of Decency. That didn’t stop my friend from attending.

BobbyS on February 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm

If you did and the Alex was still there, I highly recommend a bullet proof suit just to get into the Alex, once in, the best of luck to you getting out. Hard to believe this area of Chicago was once a thriving shopping area and a family friendly section. Crawford & Madison was the place to go for fun & food & shopping.

GFeret on February 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm

now that’s one fine Alex Theatre photo, makes me want to run across madison to the box office

TRIPLEM on September 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Never thought I’d see something on my old favorite theater “ The Alex” . God, Me & my brother ( me being about 9 and him about 7) saw so many sci-fi, horror movies there back in the 50’s. I remember sitting in the front row looking sky high at some horror movie and your feet sticking to the floor. On time I’ll never forget was watching a Triple Horror feature and leaving at probably 10 pm. Mind you we were 9 & 7, and were supposed to be home by 6pm. It was about 9 or 10 blocks home and we were already scared from the triple feature. It was a LONG walk home. I think Bill Cosby had a bit very similar to what we went through. AND it was only a quarter to get in !! Thanks for the memories!

amoswald on March 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

There are solar powered theaters in the states now. And theaters in Livermore. I am sure there are more.

GFeret on March 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

i see now. so theatre’s like the ALEX at that critical time could stay upon longer hours but only if they contributed to their power needs with their own on-site generators

so many theatres in the same newspaper ad i referenced for the ALEX post above specify long hours – either 10:00 a.m. or 1:30 pm continuous shows to midnight

my kind of showtimes

Broan on March 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

I searched for that phrase. It’s all about context. Illinois had rapidly dwindling coal supplies at the beginning of May 1946 due to a coal strike, and theaters could operate only from 2-6pm; all commerce & industry was affected. This wasn’t good business generally, so most shut their doors until the rule was changed May 10 to normal hours Fri-Sun and closed otherwise. The strike was resolved and things went back to normal minus display and ornamental lights on May 11. The theaters whose ads said “we make our own power” “our own electric power” “Open under our own power from today onwards” “we have our own power plant” had generators, or generated their own power from oil or incinerators.

GFeret on March 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

even today no movie theatre does,

though would you patronize a theatre that advertised: “Our Digital Projectors are Windmill powered!”

amoswald on March 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

don’t think it was solar in those days.

GFeret on March 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

a 1946 Chicago newspaper theatre listing contains an ad for the ALEX THEATRE, showing a line there that reads:


somebody have an idea just what this means? no other theatre in that local movie listing makes such claim