Woods Theater

54 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 26 - 50 of 97 comments

DavidZornig on April 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Just to the left of the Wood’s entrance is the Western Nite Club. On the sign you can barely make out The Sundowners. That was the country & western group that old ABC/Channel 7 news anchor Joel Daly was a member of. They were the standing house musical act for years. That was a neat place. In the basement as I recall.

jclaudio on November 25, 2009 at 7:15 am

I saw “Nightwing” at the Woods back in ‘79 with my date, Denise D. The place was so lit up that you could almost read a book in there while the movie was playing. I guess they’d had a problem with purse thefts and the like. Anyway, by that point the whole area, including the Woods, was already in decline.

Broan on October 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Look through that blog; her work is an amazing discovery.

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on October 17, 2009 at 9:17 pm

That photo must date from sometime between July and November 1969, when Midnight Cowboy played at the Woods.
The Daley Center, on the left, was built from 1963-1965.
But what fascinates me is the man in the foreground….what is he carrying? Being closer to the camera, he looks strangely tall, in comparison to the man on the right, who looks strangely short. Together they almost look like an old carnival act. The photographer, Vivian Maier, definitely had a unique eye to create something like that in the days before Photoshop.

KenC on September 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Harry Belafonte was on the Woods stage at 8:15p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1959, for the World Premiere of “ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW”. (From the Chicago Tribune movie listings).

JRS40 on May 22, 2009 at 10:45 am

Sadly the Loop had the reputation back then of being a dangerous place where whites would never be seen at night because African-American and Hispanic gangs were taking over the streets. This is one of the reasons, mostly unfounded by the way, that these beautiful palaces failed. People stopped showing up, especially at night. It didn’t help that the Oriental down the street had been taken over as home turf by one gang – one of the reasons that theater was eventually shuttered. But the reason for the double features like this was the need to try and grab the movie loving audience for a film like COTTON CLUB and then show a schlock horror film, marital arts or whatever to appeal to the gangs. I don’t know that I necessarily subscribe totally to that theory but it does make sense in a weird way. This theater was, after all, the last of the great palaces to close.

KingBiscuits on May 15, 2009 at 9:14 pm

That’s a pretty strange double bill. A big-budget Coppola film paired with a B-grade martial arts import.

CatherineDiMartino on May 15, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Wow! What an eclectic combo on the marquee!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm

About four or five years left for the Woods at this point:

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DavidZornig on April 12, 2009 at 6:04 am

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KenC on February 26, 2009 at 7:39 pm

In the book “DOWNTOWN CHICAGO IN TRANSITION” by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors, there is a great shot of the Woods theatre in 1962 on page 161. “CAPE FEAR” is playing; you can also see the Greyhound Bus Depot and the Sherman House Hotel.

Chicago229 on January 21, 2009 at 9:58 am

I have never seen the inside of this theatre. Are there any photos?

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm

You are correct Lost Memory. Christine was a 58. My memory is obviously clearly lost. It's been 31 years since I owned mine though. My57 Plaza did indeed have only two headlights, and the parking lights/turn signals were the inner two. Larger sealed beams than on the `58.

The tailights were changed on the 58's too. Just a small lens at the bottom of the fin. Whereas my57 had full triangular lenses in the shape of the fin. Sure wish I’d kept that one.

The makers of “Christine” took some liberties with what they had available back then. Mixing Belvidere cars & parts with Fury’s. Somewhere there’s a Mopar site that points out all the differences. Door pillars, missing mirrors etc. Thanks for the clarification and extra pic!

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 3:26 pm

P.P.S. In Lost Memory’s 1958 photo posted this past June of the Wood’s marquee, the front car at the curb is a 1957 or 58 Plymouth. The source car for the Steven King book and movie "Christine". Supposedly originally a 4-door in the book, but changed to a 2-door for the film. I had a57 Plymouth Plaza. This one looks from the lower trim to be either that or a Savoy.

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Just did some more rereads of past Wood’s posts. In the 1963 photo Bryan Krefft posted in 2005, the one with the Bob Hope film on the marquee, the Hotel Sherman behind it at Randolph & Clark was actually called the Sherman House. But it was indeed a hotel.
My father played trombone and upright bass there inside it’s club.

Frank Sinatra and many other high profile singers & musicians played there over the years. Probably while their own films were playing the Woods and other theatres downtown.
The State of Illinois building is now on the site where the Sherman House once stood.

If only the Woods could have escaped demolition and been the source of a renovation along with the Selwyn/Michael Tood, to build out the new Goodman Theatre.
It’s ironic that there’s a push to call it all the “Theater District”, when that’s what it always was to begin with, until everything was torn down.

GFeret on October 31, 2008 at 11:25 am

The very first flick I saw there was the Beatles HELP! Even remember just what part of the film I walked-in on (w/ my friend Johnny C.) – when they were setting-up the play the song You’re Gonna Lose That Girl in the mock studio,

In 1982 at the WOODS I saw a typical exploitation triple-feature there: 10 COMMANDMENTS OF KUNG-FU, GARDEN OF THE DEAD, & GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE. Certainly the very last of the paid-admission triple-features for me (or perhaps anyone).

I wish someone could quote those 10 K-F commandments for me. They were printed on a little card that was handed-out in the theatre lobby then, and as I barely recall were hilarious.

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 10:01 am

P.S. Heartland Cafe up North used to rent out a VHS of Stony Island, but that was 20 years ago.

I just reread one of Paul E’s 2005 posts about seeing “The Bubble” at the Woods. It triggered my memory that my parents took me and my brother to that film as well. Quite possibly at the Woods. I had nightmares for weeks, as I was all of about 6 at the time.
Imagine 3D horror at that age. Or taking me for that matter.
I remember the zombie like newsman in the film swinging a newspaper 3D style, and just repeating over & over “Paper…Morning Paper”.

Should have charged my father back years later for all the therapy. Ha!

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 9:39 am

Wow, I never made that connection. Stony Island was great. Somewhere I have a VHS I think I got at Facets.
I know I have the soundtrack LP. Longtime Goodman Theatre/Christmas Carol alum Tom Mula played the undertaker.
Also the father of Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs was somehow involved.
I think a friend of my brothers played bass in it too.
I remember they were able to incorporate some of Richard J. Daley’s funeral into the film. The late Oscar Brown Jr. played an Alderman.

I previously posted on CT’s Sandburg/Playboy Theatre page that I saw Stony Island there then, and Siskel was at the show.

KingBiscuits on October 31, 2008 at 12:17 am

Noticed that Stony Island was an engagement in 1978. That was the directorial debut of Chicago native and future director of The Fugitive Andrew Davis.