Montclare Theatre

7133 W. Grand Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60707

Unfavorite 8 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 46 comments

dsadowski on March 6, 2017 at 2:34 am

I remember the optometrist on the corner very well. I got my first pair of eyeglasses ever there. As I recall, it was called Gutierrez Optical, and the two optometrists were Binder & Binder. They had a hand-held stereopticon viewer in their waiting room that you could use to look at old stereo postcards, offering a 3-D view.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

The Mont Clair theatre opened on March 1st, 1929. Grand opening ad in photo section.

Trolleyguy on September 12, 2012 at 8:06 am

Interesting thing about the lobby flier display boxes. They spelled the theater’s name as “Montclair” cast in metal on the top. Wonder if anybody saved one of them?

DavidZornig on January 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

FYI. I added 2 photos of a Montclare lobby flier from 1936.

Kidjim25 on August 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Hi everyone. My grandfather and great uncle were the two optometrist’s in the shop next to the Montclare. I was wondering if there were any photos of the montclare that had a full shot of the optometric shop and the theater. If there is I’d really appreciate it! Thanks James Binder

TLSLOEWS on February 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

What a great vertical on the Montclare.

Trolleyguy on February 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Activate notification status.

DavidZornig on August 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

My relatives talked of regularly going to The Montclare. They lived in River Grove at various times in the 30's &50’s.
The Montclare used to give away china plates & glassware in the `30’s. Somewhere I have a lobby flyer from that era, with the give-a-way of the week. I too saw the Hefner piece and thought it funny, that the famous bunny cuffs may have originated via his time at The Montclare. That alone should have saved the place. Whoever owned it at that time and let them in, should have pitched something to him.
What’s 1 Mil to Hef? Come on!

Of course the Grand Geneva in Wisconsin started as a Playboy Club. So they’d long ago liquidated any dead weight.

As with so many others, too bad this place is gone.

Bobjl on February 18, 2008 at 6:32 am

Ah what memories. Growing up in Elmwood Park in the 70’s and 80’s, you had a choice of the Mercury or MontClare. Had my first real makeout session with my girlfriend there. Was adouble feature featuring “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” and “Sleepaway Camp.” Was so sad to see this grand old theater in such disaray. When my girlfriend and I took a break we noticed something walking up the aisle. My girlfriend said, “Look, it’s a cat.” We then noticed this was no cat. It was a huge rat! It is such a shame that this place couldn’t be rehabbed.

dsadowski on June 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm

re: a previous post about the zip code in this area. USPS never intended zip codes to define municipalities, only the areas served by particular post offices. The post office in the Montclare neighborhood also serves Elmwood Park, and the borderline is Harlem Avenue, a block or two west of where the Montclare was.

The area had a 60635 zip until some years ago, meaning Elmwood Park had a Chicago-style zip. Residents there lobbied for their own zip, probably due to redlining.

USPS responded by changing everyone’s zip to 60707, thus part of Chicago now has a suburban-style zip code.

kingchaos341 on June 13, 2007 at 9:27 am

The gangs took control once this place closed. I live right over there and it was a damn shame the way the neighborhood fell apart from the Brickyard west to Harlem

Trolleyguy on February 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Sorry, Sal died back in the 90’s from an intestinal blockage. Nice guy, shame he went so young.

dsadowski on February 20, 2007 at 10:48 am

I think Mr. De Grazia was the manager when I worked there in 1970. Does anyone know if he is still living?

Trolleyguy on February 20, 2007 at 4:47 am

Sal De Grazia was a neighbor of mine and it broke his heart that he couldn’t keep the place open. Economics were against him and the place declined. I would take my family there from time to time but the place was just too run-down and dreary.

The last film shown there was in 1985, the potboiler REMO WILLIAMS. The title remained on the marquee for months afterwards.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on February 20, 2007 at 3:49 am

I saw THE BREAKFAST CLUB here, so it was open at least into 1985.

kencmcintyre on February 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm

This article is dated 6/26/75:

The Mont Clare theatre, 7133 W. Grand, opened its doors last Friday for the first time in five months. The theatre went out of business in February, and remained abandoned until June 15, when an unidentified buyer took control, and made some changes. It opened Friday night as a dollar-a-seat moviehouse, showing first run neighborhood films in double-features. In the five days between the purchase of the theatre and opening night several improvements kept workmen busy. The entire building was cleaned, 300 missing or broken seats were replaced, paint was applied where needed, and new carpeting was installed.

New manager Sal De Grazia, a theatre manager for 15 years and Austin area resident for 20, explained, “The theatre was 45 years old and it’s never really been cleaned. We could have opened up right away but, you know, we want to clean it up for the people.“ So the repairs were made and after a hectic Friday afternoon for De Grazia, the theatre opened, showing a typically old time double feature selection, a James Bond thriller, "Man With the Golden Gun,” and a John Wayne movie, “Branigan.”

The new theatre’s policy will be neighborhood oriented as much as possible. De Grazia said admission will be kept to a dollar unless it is impossible to work at that price. “We hope to keep it up for the neighborhood’s sake,” De Grazia explained “We’re going to try to keep it a family theatre, as much as possible,” De Grazia added. The theatre will show mainly first run double features, unless it obtains a high quality, longer movie, De Grazia said. The old management of the theatre showed mainly older films, De Grazia said.

The theatre will have Saturday and Sunday matinees every week, and will open weekdays around 5:30. De Grazia, who had managed the Mont Clare before, along with the old Rita theatre and the Manor, which has now been turned into a ballroom, said that if the neighborhood responds, he will have no trouble keeping it a low priced, family theatre.

dsadowski on September 30, 2006 at 6:06 pm

My aunt knew the owners back in the 1960s and she told me they turned down an offer of $1 million for the theatre, which is probably more than they got later.

In 1970 I worked there as an usher for six weeks, wearing a red jacket. The whole time I worked there, the only film they ran was Patton, which unfortunately I had already paid to see at the Bismark downtown, where it had a reserved seat showing.

There was an optometrist in the same building (Binder & Binder), and that’s where I got my first pair of glasses in third grade.

dsadowski on September 30, 2006 at 6:02 pm

My family has lived in this area for a long time. My Dad saw King Kong there in 1933, and it scared the hell out of him.

First movie I ever saw there was around 1959, and I saw lots after that. In the 1960s, new films played downtown for the first two weeks, and then they played at outlying theatres like the Montclare in the neighborhoods.

In 1963, my older brother and I saw The Day of the Triffids there, or maybe it was X- the Man With the X-Ray Eyes. Anyhow, I got so scared I had to leave before the end of the picture.

Broan on June 17, 2006 at 9:53 am

Here is a profile from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s HAARGIS system. It includes a small picture.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on April 17, 2006 at 11:17 am

Per Brian Wolf’s comment above regarding the 1996 Sun-Times article:

“Mont Clare residents now can see their movies at the multiplex theater in the Bricktown Square shopping center.”

Ironically, that same multiplex would be closed just four years later after only 11 or so years of operation.

koosarizona on March 24, 2006 at 3:57 am

Growing up in the area in the 60’s and 70’s, we spent many a Saturday taking in the latest “Godzilla” release (usually a double feature). Between movies, they would show “Starman” shorts which was a Japanese version of “Superman”. I knew the end was near for the Montclare when my sister came home after seeing a movie and said the row she was in tipped over when she sat down.

Broan on March 17, 2006 at 8:32 am

And also, in 1993 a businessman named John Daddano was planning to turn the theater into a boxing arena. Sorry for all this serial commenting! I also saw a third article on Hef where he addressed it as, “the movie theater where all my dreams began, the Montclare.”

Broan on March 17, 2006 at 7:39 am

It opened with little newspaper fanfare March 1, 1929 with a 14 piece symphony orchestra directed by Max Greenfield.