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My first visit to the Y&W was in the spring of 1976. My dad took me to see “Lucky Lady” with Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman. The second feature was a long forgotten comedy starring Alan Arkin called “Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins” which I thought was pretty good and would love to see again. I also remember seeing “The Omen” on screen 2 and “The Exorcist” was playing on screen 1. Off and on I would sneak a peek at Screen 1 but was too scared to look for long. Other films I saw there in the 70’s included “Return to Witch Mountain” plus “The Gnome-Mobile”; “Peter Pan”, “Halloween” plus a low budget Chuck Conners slasher film called “Tourist Trap.” My fondest memory would be seeing “Young Frankenstein” in a 1977 re-release. Beyond screen 1 in the distance lightning flashed every few minutes which really added to the movie. I can also remember the Y&W did fireworks every Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July. Up until the early 70’s I think they even did them on New Year’s Eve. A buddy of mine and I went on a fireworks night in the 80’s and the display was terrific – still one of the best I have seen and something my buddy and I still talk about to this day.
Sad how things have changed. “Revenge of the Sith” opened on this big screen and a week later the theater felt the need to move it so they could play “The Honeymooners” on the big screen. And after 3 weeks “Sith” was gone from any of the River Oaks screens.
I’m curious as to how a theater that hasn’t even opened yet be considered a cinema treasure?
I drove by the theater the other day and the building now houses yet another health club that the city already has too many of. I imagine they took everything out that resembled a theater and its chances of ever being used in that capacity again are now gone. What a shame.
It seems as though the 3 Penny is showing first run as much as art house films (though it appears the art house films are second run). Currently they are showing “Layer Cake” which has been out for a few months and “Kontroll” which played at Landmark’s Century Theater last month. Yet this Firday they will be playing “War of the Worlds” and “Mr and Mrs Smith.” I certainly hope they don’t abandon art house films altogether and would love to see them play more revivals as they have in the past. One interesting footnote: The 3 Penny was the theater that “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has its Chicago premiere (in first run) back in 1975.
The initals were for the chain that opened the drive in originally. It stands for Young and Wolfe.
The Marquette is no longer listed on Kerasotes website so I would guess they have closed the theater. It’s no surprise since they recently opened another multiplex just a few miles away. What surprises me is that they chose to close this theater and keep the Dunes Plaza still open as this was, by far, the nicer of the two theaters with its screen covered curtains and brown brick exterior. Another nice building gone. Though I lived a good 40 minute drive away I managed (with my parents) to make it out to the Marquette to see some films that hadn’t opened locally in my area. This was the theater where I saw “Jaws” for the very first time. Other films I remember seeing there include “Breakout” with Charles Bronson; “Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo”; “Heroes” with Henry Winkler, and “Halloween.” Perhaps some movie lover out there will buy it and do something with it before it gets demolished, which is what I expect will happen.
The Surf was sold in September, 1964. The theater closed briefly and then re-opened as the Playboy on September 29, 1964 with a film called “Nothing But The Best.” The Playboy then sold in 1976 and its final booking was a double feature of “The Producers” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” When the theater re-opened as the Chelex on October 8, 1976 the first feature was “The Last Affair” which was produced by one of the owners of the Chelex. Roger Ebert, in his review, claimed this was the only way the movie could ever be shown in a theater. The Chelex was basically a second run double feature house that lasted barely 7 months. When the theater re-opened for the last time on June 3, 1977 it was re-named the Sandburg. The opening feature was a third run showing of “Silver Streak.” The theater continued to be a second and third run house for much of its first year and then the owners wisely dabbled with art films and soon the Sandburg became one of the top exclusive art houses in the city up until its closing.
The Roosevelt closed after its Sunday evening performances on August 26, 1979. The final booking was a less then memorable double feature of “The Master Killer” and “The Chinatown Kid.”
Freddy – I have the bookings of the Chicago from 1964-1980. Leave your email addy and I will send the list to you from 64-70. If you want the bookings from 71-80 let me know.
Lost – The 41 was located on Calumet Avenue on the outskirts of Whiting.
Splinter, I don’t know about the Ridge as it was before my time but the Glen was definetly not on Broadway but is on Ridge Road. I still pass by the building at least once a month and the giant GLEN sign is still there. The entrance faced South and across the street was the Beauty Spot restaurant parking lot.
Correction – The theatre was the farthest East and not South as I listed above.
I have discovered that the Hammond opened in June of 1970 and not the mid 60’s as I listed above. It’s premiere attraction was “Romeo and Juliet.”
The Chicago still shows movies every so often. The last few years it has been home to the opening night of the Chicago Film Festival. In 2003 I saw “The Human Stain” and last year “Kinsey.”
Ken, I haven’t been there in about 2 years or so but the way you describe it sounds just about right. The seats are terribly uncomfortable. We had gone to see a double bill of “The Last Detail” and “Shampoo” and by the time the second feature was over we were numb from the pain. Hopefully they will take some profit money, assuming they are still profitable, and get new seats.
I think the reason the McClurg closed was because the 21 screen River East opened just a few blocks away. The Esquire really doesn’t have any nearby competition. The closest ones which were just a few blocks away were 900 North and Water Tower and those both closed. Had they gone by interior quality McClurg would easily still be open. Hopefully someone will buy it and make it an art house or maybe even a place where classic films can be seen on the big screen.
The Oriental was one of the most popular palaces in the Loop in the 60’s and early 70’s. It was home to the Chicago premiere of “Airport” in 1970 and it played almost three months. In 1971 the Oriental opened “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song” and from then on things changed for the Oriental. The theater got the stigma of playing only to African American audiences (much like the Roosevelt) and whites stayed away in droves. Naturally to continue to earn a profit the Oriental had no choice but to play blaxploitation and kung-fu films for its audience. Two of the theaters biggest hits in the 70’s were “Return of the Dragon” and “J.D.’s Revenge”. By 1978 the Oriental had been relegated to a second and sometimes third run palace that showed 3 films and changed every week. In 1981 gangs started fighting in the theater claiming the Oriental was their home turf. Eventually the owners had enough and it was shuttered. Having been there since it re-opened (I saw the stage productions of “Ragtime” and “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” with Ann-Margret) I am pleased to say the theater is probably as beautiful as it ever was. Too bad other theaters like the United Artists, Woods, Roosevelt, and State Lake could not be salvaged as well.
I drove by there last night and the theater is now completely demolished. Kind of sad but not unexpected. The Ridge Plaza was designed slightly different from any other twin General Cinema I ever saw (including the other two in NW Indiana – Crossroads and Dunes)probably because it was the first. Besides the above mentioned tabletops in Cinema 1 and the size of the two auditoriums there was the entrance to Cinema 2. To get to the auditorium on the left side (Cinema 2) instead of just entering a door on either side you would first have to walk down a small hallway. On the left was an exit door and poster case and, I think, a door to the projectionist booth. On the right were bathrooms which was very odd as all the other theaters had just one set of bathrooms. Also, the screens were different. At all the other GCC’s the screen lay flat against the wall. At the Ridge the screen was actually inside the wall with all four sides of the wall angeling in towards the screens.
Sitting there looking at the ruins I got to thinking that this was the theater where my love for movies was born. So many movies I saw there (some great and some not so great) including “The Godfather”, “The Poseidon Adventure”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Three Days of the Condor”, “Hustle”, “Mother, Jugs and Speed”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Shampoo”, “The Shootist”, “Marathon Man”, “Jaws 2”, “Grease”, “Foul Play”, “Animal House”, “Death on the Nile”, “Kramer vs kramer” and the list goes on and on.
The theater probably won’t be missed by most but will forever have a spot in my heart. Thank you Ridge Plaza.
The Marina Cinemas opened in September of 1970. Its premiere attractions were “Airport”, “The Hawaiians”, and “Hello Dolly.”
Actually the Norridge was open in the late 60’s and was a twin then. I don’t know if it opened as a single screen or twin but it’s been around a lot longer then listed above. It was a fourplex in 1978 when I saw a sneak preview of “Halloween” there.
The Studio closed in April 1979.
Tamir, I think you are confusing the theaters. The one you first refer to being behind River Oaks West was known originally as River Oaks 5-6. But the way you describe the entrance sounds like River Oaks 7-8 located right by Marshall Fields. When you entered 5-6 after purchasing your tickets you had to walk down a hallway. Posters were on the right with restrooms on the left. The concession stand was straight ahead. Once you reached the concession you would turn to your right and both auditoriums were down a shorter hallway located next to each other on the right. I was a visitor there many times and was shocked by its closing. What was further shocking was less then a month after I went by there and was able to walk in and find the theaters were already completely gutted. As of now there is still no business in that space and no sign the theater was ever there.
I have had the pleasure of attending this film center a few times to see some films from the 60’s and 70’s. I have seen “Dirty Harry”, “Chinatown”, “The Party”, and “The Ballad of Cable Hogue”. Both theaters are really nice though the smaller one can feel a little claustrophobic with a full house (as was the case with “Chinatown”). My only complaint is that sometimes the print quality is not that great. The print for “Dirty Harry” was downright terrible, especially in the first two reels which were almost unwatchable. Otherwise the seats are comfortable, the theaters clean, and the atmosphere exquisite for the movie lover.
I drove by the theater last week and it is now closed.