Clark Theatre

11 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60602

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Showing 1 - 25 of 65 comments

dsadowski on September 23, 2016 at 4:02 am

FYI, I have started a new web page devoted to the Clark Theater:

There are just a few things there now, but I will keep adding to it over time. Your contributions are very welcome, thanks.

DavidZornig on June 12, 2016 at 5:54 pm

April 1960 photo added, photo credit Steve Lewandowski.

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Saw Easy Rider there in 1969

dsadowski on July 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I have often wondered what became of the neon clock that used to hang near the emergency exit inside the Clark. You could see what time it was while the movie wwas playing. These clocks were made by the Neon Clock Co. of Chicago. The only other theater that has one of these (as far as I know) is the Tivoli in Downers Grove.

filmaker on July 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I would love to receive Clark Theatre photos via email. I worked as Trinz assistant last years of daily double features as well as first run till theatre sold. Concerning film cans. Cans were brought into small manager office near entrance, then taken up to second floor (mezzanine) storage room next to men’s room for holding till day of show. Then the cans were hauled up to the projection booth, which was at the rear of the large, steep balcony. In spite of the large number of films run, I know of NO instance of any film cans ever being lost.
Concerning some movies being cut; distributors such as WB reissued movies at times in cut form (also B&W of color titles). And… Chicago had a rough censor board as well. The Clark NEVER cut films… they were run just as they came in.

castleflynn on July 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

A favorite of mine in the 60s and 70s — brought back old films such as Gunga Din and Zulu for the Clark’s trademark double features.

The Clark was easily the most interesting “experience” in the Loop: by 1971 or 72, not the safest place to watch a film — on a Friday night I once watched a pickpocket ring make the rounds of sleeping drunks, going through their pockets. When I mentioned it to the manager, he shrugged and said he couldn’t do much about it. At this point two of the pickpockets came out to the lobby and spoke to two other guys. Four heads turned my way and the manager said, “I don’t think you’re safe here right now.” But it was okay: I had already seen the movie twice.


Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on July 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Very sad news…………

KenC on July 25, 2009 at 9:37 am

Thanks for posting that great picture, David. It’s just how I remember the outside of the Clark!

dsadowski on July 25, 2009 at 12:58 am

There is a beautiful picture of the Clark here:

View link

dsadowski on July 25, 2009 at 12:57 am

I found an archived interview with Bruce Trinz here:

View link

Besides giving his whole family history with the Clark, he mentions that he sold it in May 1971. He also explains how the changing nature of downtown forced him to choose between either selling the theater, or turning it into a porn house (he chose the former).

Source: IIT Technology News, Oct. 15, 1971

dsadowski on December 17, 2008 at 7:03 pm

We lost the Clark gradually as a haven for great films. As the films departed, so did my interest in the place- and not many back in the 1970s would lament the loss of a theater specializing in soft core porn. There were larger factors involved, to be sure- the entire block was razed to build Three First National Plaza.

Then again, the role of Loop theaters changed. They all went into a decline and never really recovered. For a time, I don’t think there were any movie theaters left in the Loop, at least until the Fine Arts began a glorious run on Michigan Avenue.

There are hardly any even today, except for the Gene Siskel, run by the School of the Art Institute.

kencmcintyre on December 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm

A Chicago public library card will cost me $100 since I’m out of state. I guess I won’t be doing that.

KenC on December 17, 2008 at 2:02 pm

David- the two fims per day policy ended, to be exact, on Thursday, June 25, 1970. From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory dated Friday,June 26, 1970: THE CLARK GOES 1st RUN MIDWEST PREMIERE starts TODAY CHARLTON HESTON “THE HAWAIIANS” Open 9 A.M. Midnite Show Tonite. Just to the left of the ad display, Roger Ebert wrote a few paragraphs re: the theatre: “The lament over the passing of the Clark theatre’s rerun policy is louder than anyone expected.”…….“But support for the policy dropped off gradually during the last couple of years, expenses rose quickly….” The first run policy did not seem to be very successful: it didn’t last very long, and in between first run films the Clark did indeed experiment:On Wednesday, Sept. 2,1970 the Clark was showing 4 Clint Eastwood Westerns- fistful of dollars(9am-5:25pm) for a few $ more(10:30am-7pm) hang ‘em high(12:45pm-9:15pm) the good,the bad, & the ugly(at 2:45pm- 11:10pm)in Color on 1 Program! SPEND A DAY (OR NIGHT) WITH CLINT EASTWOOD.(from the Sun Times movie listings).By early May, 1971(and perhaps sooner) the Clark was showing soft core adult movies. Monday, May 3, 1971: “PATTERN OF EVIL” Isabel Sarli “HEAT”. If you decided to drive to the Clark, you could park your car 1 door south for 4 hours for 95 cents!

dsadowski on December 17, 2008 at 12:00 am

Last night, I was searching through the Chicago Tribune historical archives online (which you can do for free if you have a Chicago Public Library card). I looked up a bunch of movie listings for the Clark, in order to refresh my memory about its last few years.

From what I can gather, it looks like the two different films per day policy ended sometime around the beginning of 1970. From then on, it appears the films changed weekly, and there were sometimes one film, sometimes two. While there continued to be some art films and revivals of classics, more and more R-rated films and exploitation films were thrown into the mix.

At the same time, the Biograph up on Fullerton began showing the same sorts of classic double bills that that Clark had previously done- although again, not showing two different films per day but more like the same double bill for an entire week.

In fact, it looks like my memory is faulty and one of the classic double bills I thought I saw at the Clark was actually shown at the Biograph in 1970 (the early Janet Gaynor talkie Sunny Side Up, paired with Judge Priest, a 1934 Will Rogers pic directed by John Ford).

In early 1971, it looks like the Clark experimented with a couple of triple features- a Magnificent Seven trilogy and then three horror films. Not long after that, the bookings disappear from the Tribune “Movie Clock” section. (I don’t think the Clark ran too many display ads in the Tribune.)

kencmcintyre on November 26, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Solely for argument’s sake, the same 4 Star listing at 11 N. Clark was also in the 1954 yellow pages, six years before the listing I mentioned yesterday. Same Andover phone number as well.

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Entirely possible. The 4 Star on Clark immediately preceded the listing for the 4 Star on 2418 N. Madison. The number given for the latter theater was SEely 3-0545.

KenC on November 25, 2008 at 9:19 pm

The only theatre named the 4 Star in 1960 was located in the 2400 block of West Madison St. I can only guess the Yellow pages made a mistake.

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 9:05 pm

This 4 Star was listed at 11 N. Clark.

KenC on November 25, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Ken- there was a theatre on Madison St. named the 4 Star. The phone number for the Clark was fr2- 2843 (franklin).

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Listed as the 4 Star Theater in the 1960 Chicago yellow pages. Phone was ANdover 3-2672.

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 7:35 pm

There’s a Proquest option on the LAPL database, but it looks like it only goes back about ten years.

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Not the Los Angeles library, that I know of. Maybe I can apply for a Chicago library card with a fake address.

Broan on November 21, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Both are available through Proquest, but you would have to be a member of a library which subscribes to it.

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Here’s the problem with the Chicago archive-I think it says $400 for 1500 articles. What if you pull up an article and you don’t like it? I guess it counts against your total. I prefer something open-ended. I wish there was some other way to access the Tribune database.

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Here is an excerpt from a Chicago Daily Tribune article dated ¼/22:


C. L. Boyd, treasurer of the Columbia theater, 11 North Clark Street, who told the police yesterday morning that two burglars held him up…

(was lying, apparently, but I don’t have the rest of the article)