Showing 101 - 125 of 137 comments found
Jim, try to contact the Southwest News-Herald. I remember back in September, 1976 there was a picture on the front page with these senior citizens protesting something or another as they were marching down 63rd Street. A photographer snapped a picture of them as they marched past the Marquette Theatre. Also, in July or August, 1978, there were Polish-American protesters who were demonstrating out in front of the Marquette Theatre. They were protesting the Burt Reynolds movie entitled THE END. Maybe the Southwest News-Herald has some pictures of that situation. Also, try contacting some local tv news outlet. They might still have video tape of the Polish protest. Good Luck from Tim O'Neill
Today, December 26, 2009, is the 80th Anniversary of the opening of the Cinema Theatre. The Cinema lasted only 52 years. I wasn’t there opening day, but I was working there on it’s last night in 1981. I remember on the last day, Oscar Brotman had a special closing day offer: If you walked up to the box-office and said: “Wally Phillips is a nut” you got in for free. Oscar Brotman (1915-1994). I heard he was difficult, not easy to work for, but what a showman. What an era. It’s weird: All the theatres that were operating on the Near North Side of Chicago back then are all gone now. It was such a wonderful time.
You’re absolutley right, Mr. Walczak. The problem is this: the theatre chains and the film companies can’t come to terms on who’s going to pay for the installation of digital projectors in 40,000 auditoriums throughout North America. Multiply $150,000 X 40,000 audtoriums and the total amount comes to: YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s an interesting story, Terry. I’m sure that sort of thing is happening everywhere. Digital projectors are very expensive and there are many theatre chains that don’t want to invest in them. In a way, I think this whole situation is hilarious. I still have a 1999 Chicago Sun-Times article about a ShoWest demonstration of digital projection and how several theatre executives predicted at the time that all theatres will have digital projection in the next “4-5 years.” Well, here it is 10 years later and maybe around 10% of theatres have digital projectors. I don’t know, maybe I’m just old-school, but I was always under the impression that video is for television and film is for movie theatres. Most Hollywood filmmakers shoot their movies on film stock. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As I’ve said before, let’s stick with film. And don’t let anyone fool you, the film studios may save millions of dollars by releasing their product in digital, but that savings will NEVER be passed on to the consumers. You mark my word.—-Tim O'Neill
Justin, we live in sad times. IMAX is the latest company to sell it’s soul to the Digital Devil. Why, oh why, can’t film companies and theatre chains experiment with MaxiVision 48? I mean, back in 1927 they experimentd with sound and I guess it kinda succeeded. I mean, I suppose the movie houses back then had to spend some money installing sound equipment. I’m assuming everything worked out fine with the advent of sound. Oh well, I hope some day moviegoers will come to the realization that digital projection is tantamount to watching television. People of planet Earth: Let’s stick with tradition; let’s stick with FILM.—-Tim O'Neill
You want to hear something weird. This week, the Pipers Alley is showing THE BLUES BROTHERS. A few weeks back they were showing THE GODFATHER. Does anybody out there know what this is all about?
jwballer, The Studebaker was the original name of the 1200 seat theatre. It was called the Fine Arts Theatre #1 from December, 1982 until November, 2000. The smaller theatre had several different names; it was called the World Playhouse beginning in the early 1930s until December, 1982 when it was known as the Fine Arts #2 until it closed in November, 2000. When M&R Theatres re-opened these two theatres on Christmas Day, 1982, the newspaper ads had the new theatres advertised as “Fine Arts” but underneath that term, in parenthesis, it said “Studebaker/World Playhouse.”
I beg to differ. You can see the streetcar has “LAKE” on it’s slot. Also, although I must admit it’s been a long time since I’ve taken an el ride on the green line, but I believe the overhead tracks comes to an end at some point and merges onto tracks near the Metra tracks. I don’t know what you call these tracks but they’re the kind that has stones below the tracks. Hopefully, a CTA expert can write a comment about this.
I worked as a projectionist at the Adelphi from Feb. 1993-Oct. 1994. It was one of the last projection booths with carbon arc lamphouses at the time. The late great Don Klein (1937-1999) operated the theatre. He tried to keep the place open as long as he could, but he finally relented and sold the business to Indian film exhibitors in 1995. I wish Don was still alive today. He’d be on the Cinema Treasures website 24/7. He really loved old-time movie houses. Working there was interesting, sometimes depressing, other times just downright scary. There were a couple of shootings near the theatre. Rats? Oh yeah, BIG ones. Attendance? Sometimes it was good; other times okay; and there were really slow weeks. The theatre was up and down; sometimes classy films; other times cinematic trash. It was one of the last of it’s kind: a double-feature theatre with 2nd-run prices. I really miss this theatre. I was hoping it would make it. It’s the type of theatre I miss working for: a single screen theatre. Well, as Don Klein said to me shortly before he died: “Let’s face it, Timmy, there’s just no place in this world for guys like me and you anymore.” P.S. If anyone is interested, there is a liquor store across the street from the Adelphi. It used to be a small movie house called Archibald’s Casino. Thank you for trying, Bill Morton. You and Don would’ve been great friends.
I am the projectionist at the Gateway and they STILL have carbon arc lamphouses. Trust me. They hardly ever show movies there, but next time they do, come on upstairs and you can check them out.
JRS40, You’re absolutely right about not everyone being a fan of Mr. Brotman. Even Tom Brueggemanna acknowleged that Brotman was difficult. I worked at the Cinema Theatre for 6 months in 1981. I never got to know Brotman. I only saw him at the Cinema on it’s last day (September 13, 1981). It’s just if you look at the movie ads in the 1960s and 1970s, you will see that Brotman was a true showman. One of my favorite ads was back in October, 1976 when APE opened at the Loop. It had this big splashy full-page ad, boasting about the movie being in 3-D and all the exciting stuff in the movie. The movie was horrible, but it was another example of Brotman’s style. If you ever get a chance, try to get copies of newspaper ads for THE STEWARDESSES in 3-D. These ads are priceless.
Hey, JClaudio, I used to work with you at the Cinema Theatre. I hope all is well with you. Mr. U. passed away in May, 2004. If you know anyone with money let’s restore and re-open the Village Theatre. Maybe we could go across the street and grab the old Cinema marquee from the Chicago History Museum. Send me a message at
CinemarkFan, I totally agree with everything you said. The Pipers Alley used to be a good theatre. It has really gone down the tubes since the Loews Cineplex 1998 union projectionist lockout. It’s a mystery why AMC continues to operate this theatre. I’m guessing that they are stuck in a long-term lease. Who knows? I wish they would let you lease it, CinemarkFan, because you have a knack for showmanship. The Pipers Alley did have 70mm in two of their bigger auditoriums during the early days. I happen to have a Chicago Reader Section Two dated June 28, 1991. This was one month after Loews opened this theatre. On page 31 is a big ad for Pipers Alley in which they announce “The Epic Entertainment Experience of the Year! 70MM Film Festival.” It was supposed to be a 4 week festival of “original 70mm studio vault prints of 4 of the all time greatest epic films.” The first week was BEN-HUR; the second week, WEST SIDE STORY; the third week, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; the fourth week, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. However, the festival only lasted two weeks. They cancelled the last two weeks and opted to play BOYZ IN THE HOOD on two screens instead. Now keep in mind—70mm was still prevelant back in 1991; so having a 70mm festival probably wasn’t anything unique. Today, Hollywood doesn’t make 70mm prints anymore. This would be a great time to do a 70mm festival. There are so many young people who have never experienced 70mm nowadays. Please, CinemarkFan, keep your dreams alive. I have done some 70mm projectioning. I’m on board with you. Keep us all posted.
I’d like to tell an Oscar Brotman story I heard back in 1981 when I was working at the the Cinema Theatre. The story goes something like this: Back in 1971, the legendary schlock producer Jack H. Harris was about ready to release a movie called SHELIA. The legendary Oscar Brotman made a brilliant proposal to Mr. Harris. Brotman proposed changing the title of the movie to HONKY. Harris went along with the idea and the movie was a box-office hit. I’m telling you all, there is NO showmanship like that anymore.
A study in the duality of man. Dennis Wolkowicz: one of the nicest guys in the world. Jay Warren: cold, subdued, reclusive. I can’t understand it. These two gentlemen share a lot in common; but, they have divided personalities. Wolkowicz is a man of the people; Warren retreats below the catacombs of the Portage and plays the organ non-stop (the Phantom of the Portage?). It’s no small wonder that these two men are never seen in the same room together.
I passed by the Village earler tonight. The marquee is empty (except for the letter “o” on the north side of the marquee); the Weber sign is gone; on top of the marquee is a sign that has been up there for FOUR years (“For Rent: Summer 2006”). Hey, the phone number to Price and Associates is (312) 641-1800. Somebody, please, re-open this theatre. Restore it to it’s orginal 1916 glory. I can’t do it, but somebody out there can.—Tim O'Neill.
Cinema Mary, I used to work at the Cinema. You took pictures of us and the theatre itself on it’s last day. If you still have them will you please email them to me at
Well, let’s hope they don’t charge an additional $3 for 35mm 3-D. Keep in mind: I think the reason for the $3 surcharge for digital 3-D is so that film companies will make the extra money that they would’ve made had the vast majority of theatres had digital 3-D in the first place. I just wish everyone would stick with good old-fashioned film. The motion picture industry claims that they will save millions of dollars with digital; however, they are never going to pass that savings onto the consumers.—Tim O'Neill
You’re right, JRS40. Some people have indicated that it opened in 1972, which is incorrect. Do you happen to know if they played FIDDLER ON THE ROOF in 70mm?
To ken mc: In regards to the photo posted on April 25, 2009: I think the year of “1972” is inaccuate. M&R was operating the theatre in 1972 and I seem to reacall that they had their logo situated on the front top of the marquee. I have a feeling that picture was taken in 1977; that’s the year Stan Kohlberg took over the theatre. September, 1977 to be exact. Also, I want to clarify something I said up above. When I said that “hardly anything got done” what I meant was hardly any repairs were done to the balcony area. They just pretty much left the damaged scene as it was.
If my memory serves me correctly, the Oriental closed after the first weekend of the New Year in 1981. I guess Kohlberg wanted that final Christmas gang-banger business. I would have to go to the Harold Washington 3rd floor microfilm room to confirm this. I do have a December 19, 1980 Chicago Sun-Times and the Oriental is advertising the usual kung-fu triple feature for $1.75. I remember June 4, 1978. The lobby in the balcony caught on fire on this busy Sunday night. I guess somebody was careless with their cigarettes in an ashtray with pieces of cardboard cup mixed in. (keep in mind, kids, this was back in the day when smoking was allowed in the lobby) Well, anyway, smoke engulfed the theatre and everyone rushed out. I remember one of the movies being DEATH SPORT with David Carradine; I can’t remember what the other two were. Well, anyway, outside of the theatre, people were demanding their $1.75 refund, and when the cashier walked away from the box-office, woah milly, the patrons got really angry. According the the Sun-Times, there must have been 2000 people there that night, or, at least, that’s what I seem to recall reading. A few days later Kohlberg reopened the place. One year later, Mayor Jane Byrne was holding a meeting with citizens and this lovely African American woman stood up and asked Mayor Byrne if there’s anything can be done about the rat problems in the downtown movie houses. Mayor Byrne said something will be done “tomorrow.” The next day, city hall officials made surprise appearances at the downtown movie houses and Gene Siskel and Channel 2 camera crew came with him. They uncovered the fact that hardly anything got done to the lobby area of the Oriental' balcony after the fire the previous year. If anyone can get a hold of the videotape of Siskel’s report please post it. I seem to recall that it happend in June, 1979, maybe July. One last footnote: Stan Kohlberg did try to take over the Loop Theatre after it closed. I don’t know why it never happened, but considering that Kohlberg also ran the nearby McVickers, Shangri-La, and Oriental, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.—-Tim O'Neill
Was this the first Kerasotes theatre?
You’re right, Joe. I have photcopies of movie ads from November, 1971 and there are ads hyping the opening of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. The McClurg Court was taken over by Cineplex Odeon in the fall of 1986 and in September, 1987 the theatre temporarily closed so it can be tripled. It re-opened as the McClurg Court Cinemas in December, 1987. It’s opening attraction in the main auditorium was BARFLY with Mickey Rourke. The theatre closed permanently in August, 2003. It got River Easted out of business.
A correction must be made. The M&R Sandburg Theatre closed in April, 1983. The last movie to play there was LA NUIT DE VARENNES featuring Harvey Keitel, speaking French. I worked there as an usher from August, 1982 until April, 1983. While I was a film student at Columbia College, I shot a short black and white silent 16mm film about a day in the life of the Sandburg. I filmed it in January, 1983. If I could ever get this film transferred to video I will try to get it on the web somewhere so you all can see it. Please be patient, it may take a while. —Tim O'Neill
CinemarkFan, I admire your ambition. I only wish a lot of these theatre chain executives would have the same drive. I work for a chain and I tried to get them to have some 70mm screenings here and there (since there was already 70mm equipment in the booth) but they weren’t interested. Theatre executives are obsessed with digital projection. Why not give moviegoers a little bit of everything? I get the impression that you want to run a mult-purpose movie house. That’s great. Let us not forget authentic 3-D dual-strip 35mm; three-projector Cinerama; 4-track mag stereo 35mm; and let us never overlook—-Sensurround! Please keep hope alive. Keep us all posted on your goals.