Showing 101 - 125 of 126 comments found
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.
There’s a hardware store around the corner. Maybe they’re just advertising their Weber grills for sale. Oh, and to Cinema Treasures: Thank you for straigtening out the huge gap from the comment that I had posted earlier. I had a little accident with my space bar on the keyboard.
Hello, my name is Tim O'Neill. I worked as usher at the M&R Fine Arts Theatres from 1983-1985. I have to correct some information that is reported on this page. Now keep in mind, I would have to take a leave of abscence from my job in order to conduct a thourough research on the 111 year-old history of the two individual theaters located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building. This information that I have comes from people who worked at the Fine Arts Building while I was an M&R employee. Okay, what I’ve been told or I have read about: The theater on the left opened as the Studebaker in 1898; the smaller theater on the right opened in 1901, according to THS. The smaller theater had various different names during it’s existence. I can’t remember in which order but the smaller theater has been known as the Fine Arts Theater, Orchestra Hall, the Playhouse Theater, the World Playhouse Theater, the World Theatre, and finally M&R Fine Arts 2 (later Loews, Sony, and Loews Cineplex). The Studebaker orginally opened as a concert hall. In the 1920s the interior was gutted and the auditorium was completely re-done. The only thing that survives from 1898 is the ceiling. The smaller theater has undergone changes as well and became a movie house in 1933. The Studebaker showed some movies during the silent era as well. Throughout the 30s through the 70s, the Studebaker was mainly a live stage house, while the World Playhouse was a movie house. I had heard that the World Playouse was used as a church after it closed as a movie house. In 1982, M&R Amusements took over the Studebaker and World Playhouse and began operating the two theatres as the Fine Arts 1&2. It opened on Christmas Day with MOONLIGHTING in Theatre 1 (Studebaker) and VERONIKA VOSS in Theatre 2 (World Playhouse). One year later, M&R closed Theatre 1 down for a few days and built a wall on the stage. Behind that wall they built Theatre 3 on the Studebaker stage. They converted one of the orginal dressing rooms into a projection booth. In the summer of 1984, M&R literally turned Theatre 3 around by placing the screen on the south end of the auditorium and re-sloping the floor. They built a twin booth and then built Theatre 4 on the stage of the World Playhouse. They had to build a wall on the stage of the World Playhouse. Now the Fine Arts had 4 auditorioums. Theatre 1 approx. 1200 seats; Theatre 2 approx. 550 seats; Theatre 3 240 seats; Theatre 4 158 seats. The theatres remained in business until November 2000.
Hello everyone. My name is Tim O'Neill, former South Sider, now current North Sider. I saw my first movie at the Beverly Theatre in 1968. The movie was THE JUNGLE BOOK. Since next year will be the 75th Anniversary of the Beverly, would anyone be interested in getting a 75th Anniversary show going. Now I don’t know how the church would feel about this, but if somehow some funds can be raised, we could temporarily install a projector in the booth (assuming if the booth is still there) and maybe show a movie from 1935, or spend an entire weekend showing various films. Obviously this is a pipe dream on my part, but I am an experienced projectionist and I can find someone to do the temporary installation job. All I need is the money to do it. If anyone has any ideas please let me know at
I used to go to the Colony a lot during the 1970s. I saw a lot of great films: JAWS; STAR WARS; ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN; TAXI DRIVER; THE SHOOTIST; ROCKY; THE DEER HUNTER; oh, I could write these titles forever. What a beautiful theatre. The last movie I saw there was TARZAN THE APE MAN starring Bo Derek. Why, oh why, can’t someone re-open this place as a multi-purpose venue. It’s even got a parking lot right next to it for crying out loud. I once looked into the possibility of having the Silent Film Society of Chicago do a silent film screening there once. I called the real estate firm that owns the Colony and the gentleman that I spoke to told me that the auditorium space was used for storage purposes. He told me it would take several days to clear everything out. What a shame. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s hope light will shine through the Colony Theatre marquee and that wonderful vertical neon sign that could be seen from miles away down 59th Street.—Tim O'Neill
Ken, I am looking at the 1914 movie ad right now. The Blaine is listed at 3743 N. Southport. Esthena at 3709 N. Southport. The Rex Theatre is at 3448 N. Southport. The Star Theatre is listed at Fullerton and Southport. Interestingly, the Fullerton is listed at 2424 N. Lincoln, which would later be known as the Crest and then later the 3-Penny. I can’t seem to get 3-Penny Cinema anymore on this web site anymore. Do you know why? Thank you much, Tim O'Neill
CF I remember that title. I can’t remember where it played. It did not play at the Cinema when I was there. Maybe it was at Biograph. The best thing to do is go downtown to the Harold Washington Library 3rd floor microfilm room and check out Chicago newspaper ads from around March 1981 and beyond. I seem to recall Gene Siskel admiring this movie. Also, check out Chicago Tribune archives, maybe there’s a Siskel review. He usually mentioned the name of a theatre whenever a small movie played in town.
One interesting fact about the Gateway Theatre. It is the last theatre in Chicago to have carbon arc lamphouses. I’ve been a projectionist at the Gateway for 16 years and I hope the Copernicus people do something special to commemorate the theatre’s upcoming 80th Anniversary.
I saw my first movie at the Biograph in the summer of 1975. My grandfather took me to see THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and the theatre was packed. 29 years later, on Tuesday, September 7, 2004, I was the last manager/projectionist to put on the Biograph’s last picture show. The movie was DE-LOVELY. It was the end of an era.—Tim O'Neill
Hey teddy666. I used to work with you at the Village Theatre. If you have any idea into getting in touch with Channel 2 News, maybe we could go down there and see if they will dig up old video tape from around 1975 when Gene Siskel did a popcorn tasting test at the concession stand at the Loop Theatre. Also, if you can get in touch with any of Oscar Brotman surviving relatives, maybe they’ll have old photos of the Loop. I used to work for the late, great Don Klein at the Adelphi Theatre and he had old photos of the Loop. I know of a historical society that may have old pictures of that theatre that Mr. Klein’s relatives donated to. I fondly recall the electic line-up of films at the Loop. One week they’ll be playing a John Cassavette’s movie, the next week a kung-fu movie. I remember THE STING playing there for 6 months. I remember the X -rated CINDERELLA playing there for a long time. They also had 3-D; Russ Meyer movies; blaxploitation; Walt Disney movies. What a place, and I never saw a movie there. It closed in March, 1978 with a masterpiece entitled STRAIGHT TIME, starring Dustin Hoffman. Loop Theatre 1939-1978. It was a small gem.
I have a very fond memory of the United Artitsts Theatre. Back in the summer of 1980 I was watching Channel 2 news and Gene Siskel was doing a report on the cult classic I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Both he and Roger Ebert were labeling the movie as the worst movie of all time. Mr. Siskel was so incensed by the movie that he took a camera crew to the United Artists Theatre and stood outside the box-office and tried to talk patrons out of going inside. Of course, they didn’t listen to him. Later, Gene took his case to a Plitt Theatre executive and this particular executive agreed to pull the film out of the United Artists “in the best of the public interest.” What a crusader!
Hello cinema lovers. My name is Tim O'Neill and I know a thing or two about the Cinema Theatre. It opened on December 26, 1929 and it closed on Sunday, September 13, 1981. I started my movie theatre career at the Cinema on Sunday, March 22, 1981. Six months later the theatre was gone. I was the last usher to work there. Cortez Holland was the last union projectionist. Jerry Usher was the last manager. The crazy beautiful Leslie Lendahl was the last cashier. The last movie was ATLANTIC CITY. It was such a cute little movie house (471 seats, including a 25 seat balcony.) There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about the Cinema Theatre.