Biograph Theater

2433 N. Lincoln Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 1, 2018 at 11:37 pm

From the 2424 N. Lincoln Wikipedia page: “The building first opened as the Fullerton Theatre, a nickelodeon, in 1912. In 1915 it was converted into an auto garage. FBI agents took aim at John Dillinger from the roof of the building in 1934.[1]

It opened again as Crest Theater in 1938."

davidcoppock on September 1, 2018 at 9:01 am

It says Fullerton Theatre on the Wikipedia page for Lincoln Hall.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on August 31, 2018 at 6:17 pm

I checked the newspaper movie section for July 22, 1934. The Fullerton Theatre is not listed. That’s because the building at 2424 N. Lincoln was an auto garage at the time. Here is a video clip in which this man mentions the address of the former movie theatre at 2424 N. Lincoln Avenue (that would later be reborn as a movie theatre; first called the Crest and then 3-Penny Cinema).

DavidZornig on August 31, 2018 at 10:05 am

They may have scouted his movements from the roof, but it’s pretty well documented that agents shot him from street level. As he was shot in the back with a bullet exiting his eye.

davidcoppock on August 31, 2018 at 9:11 am

The FBI agents who shot John Dillenger coming out of the Biograph Theatre, were on tne roof of Lincoln Hall(then called Fullerton Theatre) across the street from the Biograph Theatre.

djendrycki on December 3, 2017 at 11:04 am

I have been a Dillinger buff since I was knee high. I am 60 now and am just as fascinated by his story as I was then. My interest started when my Uncle Fred, a former boxer who enjoyed hanging out with 1920’s gangsters, regaled me with his his personal Chicago gangland stories. The one that enthralled me the most were his stories about his playing poker with John Dillinger. My first visit to the Biograph Theater was in the early seventies. My dad took me to a screening of 1927’s ‘Wings’ with Clara Bow and Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers (I also had always loved silent movies). At that time the Biograph was privately owned by W.L. Durant, an old movie buff, and he would only screen classic films. The theater at that time was pretty run down. The famous marquee had been revamped as' The New Biograph' and was a faded mint green color. The former tavern next door was an optomitrist’s office and the National Tea store next to the alley was now just a Ma and Pa type neighborhood grocery. The building opposite that, across the alley, was still a Chop Suey restaurant. Inside the lobby of the Biograph greeting the patrons as they walked in, was a life size stand up cutout of John Dillinger brandishing a machine gun. There was also a small display on the wall of Dillinger photos and of the Biograph from that fateful night in 1934. The walls around the lobby were plaster board panels with huge images of Chicago’s number one TV news team at the time, Fahey Flynn and Joel Daley from ABC Channel 7 posing as 1920’s gangsters complete with guns, cigars and flashy getaway cars. All in all it looked pretty cheesy. After the movie, my father and I ate at the Seminary Restaurant, a favorite of Dillinger’s, just down the street. We also walked by the Biograph Barber Shop, where Dillinger had his last shave and haircut. Hanging out with my Dad and experiencing all that great history was a happy day I will never forget. David Jendrycki Chicago

DavidZornig on October 25, 2017 at 5:11 pm

2017 photo added, credit & courtesy of Chris Cullen.

DavidZornig on August 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Two 2008/`09 filming of “Public Enemies” photos added, source unknown. Also a painting called Biograph-Death Of John Dillinger by Andy Thomas added.

Broan on February 14, 2017 at 6:49 am

The Biograph opened September 5, 1914.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on January 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

CStefanic. The Biograph has screened some digital presentations in its main theatre. A digital projector was temporarily installed. I’m sure anything can be screened there as long as the equipment is installed, as well as a screen.

DavidZornig on January 10, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Two 1980 photos added, photo credit Kaci Steder‎.

CStefanic on September 26, 2016 at 10:49 am

Can the main theatre at the Biograph still screen cinema?

DavidZornig on July 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

WTTW piece about a Dillinger Museum in Crown Point Indiana. There are pics of a mini replica marquee in the link at the bottom. Copy and paste to view.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on January 1, 2012 at 8:14 am

The Biograph never had a balcony. Upstairs used to be a variety of things. I was told it was a pool hall, dance class space, political gathering hole, lots of things. In 1983, the owner of the Biograph converted the upstairs space into 2 small auditoriums. He left the original 1914 auditorium alone. The original auditorium never got divided when it was a movie theatre.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on January 1, 2012 at 8:09 am

My wife and I went here last night to see the radio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. By “radio version”, I mean the actors acted it out like they were doing an old-time live radio broadcast.

I hadn’t been here since its movie theater days. Everything has changed so much. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was performed in the smaller theater upstairs (was this the old balcony for the cinema?). When the main theatre downstairs is not in use, as was the case last night, it’s completely closed off from the lobby and there’s little evidence of it being a theatre.

CraigSCummings on September 20, 2011 at 10:52 am

Okay… I’m going to answer my own question of 09/13/2011: The Biograph ran two separate classic programs. The Fox movies started 08/07/1971 with “Judge Priest” & “Sunny Side Up”. “7th Heaven”, Dantes Inferno", “Ritz Bros 3 Muskeeters”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “Hot Pepper”, “Quick Millions” “Hello Sister” were among others. Last Fox program “Sunrise” & “Me & My Gal” on 10/02/71. Then a break and on 10/30 major reissue of “Golddiggers of 1935” & “Footlight Parade” opening along with showing at the Clark Theatre. MGM movies started 11/06/70 and included “Good Earth”, “Singing In The Rain”, Meet Me In St. Louis", “American In Paris”, San Francisco" among others. Last program 12/26/71 “Tale Of Two Cities” & “Pride & Predjuce”.
In January 1972 there were three weeks of double feature Beatles movies that did exceptional business, then “Days Of Thrills & Laughter” & “L&H’s Laughing 20’s” Somewhat newer stuff followed, and I do not know how much longer the couple who ran the theatre and I had seen every week (as I attended every single program) continued operating the Biograph.

CraigSCummings on September 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Does anyone remember attending the Biograph just before Larry Edwards took over? A somewhat elderly couple ran the theatre and presented a weekly change of double feature classic movies. Many were rare Fox films from the 30’s and 40’s. I have a program schedule somewhere buried away. “The vaults are opening” was used. The prints were all in very good condition and I would say most if not all HAD to be nitrate. One non-Fox movie I remember seeing during this time was “San Francisco”. There were others,too, however I can’t recall the titles. But, hey, it’s been a few years!

TLSLOEWS on July 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

By the way Tim I just read on the Gateway Theatre page that you are the projectionist there,I knew you had to be in the business by some of your posts.I used to work for Loews in Nashville years ago,wish I still did sometimes.Thanks again for your reply.

TLSLOEWS on July 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Thanks Tim,much like when the Justice Department broke up Loews and MGM,thanks again for your reply.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on July 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

It was a Loews-Cineplex theatre from 1998 until 1999. It became a Loews-Cineplex theatre after the Cineplex Odeon/Loews merger took effect in 1998; however, by orders from the Justice Department, Loews Cineplex had to sell a bunch of their theatres to avoid a monopoly, so the Biograph was sold to the newly formed, but short-lived Meridian Theatres. Other theatres that were sold were Water Tower, Burnham Plaza, Broadway Cinema, Old Orchard, Hyde Park, and Bricktown Square. These theatres would all go out of business within a couple of years.

TLSLOEWS on July 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

This theatre is listed under Loews-Cineplex,was it at one time?

natejam on January 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

Thank you! This helps a lot!

natejam on January 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Just trying to find a way to make a replica/diorama of the theater for a presentation. I’ll take a look at some vintage photos in order to create a model.

natejam on January 20, 2010 at 8:32 am

Thanks. Haven’t yet settled on a particular version, but we’re open to any suggestions you have!