Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Tour goes by Dark Knight and other filmed in Chicago sites

Stand on the sidewalk at Wacker Drive at the Chicago River west of Michigan Avenue. It looks fine, now. But mid-summer 2010 the area was a battle zone.

Wacker Drive looked like a battle zone during the filming of Transformers 3. Photo shot for Hotel 71 by Jim Kennedy

Wacker Drive looked like a battle zone during the filming of Transformers 3. Photo shot for Hotel 71 by Jim Kennedy

Wacker Drive, backed by the Wrigley Building, Marina City and the Tribune Tower, was a prime filming location for Paramount Pictures’ Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Released mid-summer 2011, the film stars Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Josh Duhamel.   Guests of Hotel 71 which borders the other side of the river had front window seats of the action.

Below where you are standing is lower Wacker Drive – scene of Batman’s race to rescue a high level Gotham official. Chicago was Gotham in the Dark Knight released in 2008. Bruce Wayne’s bedroom was shot in Hotel 71.

Indeed, downtown Chicago is rife with Dark Knight movie locations. The city was also used in the 2005 release of Batman Begins.

A car flies out of Marina Towers' parking garage (left) in The Hunter and Trump Tower (far right) is in Dark Knight

A car flies out of Marina Towers' parking garage (left) in The Hunter and Trump Tower (far right) is in Dark Knight

Transformers 3, Dark Knight and Batman Begins are only a few of the many movies and TV segments filmed in Chicago.

Avid movie buffs might track down all the sites of their favorite Chicago locations such as The Blues Brothers or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

However, there is a not widely known way to get the info and go by many of the sites. Arguably in the category of best kept secrets is Chicago Film Tour owned by movie buff John Brinkman.

From Wrigley Field on the north side to Chinatown on the south with several places in between, Chicago Film Tour does a two-hour loop that passes locations used in more than 80 movies filmed in the city.

A buyout left Brinkman ready for a career move a few years ago. “I remembered a Sound of Music tour I took with my father in Austria. I loved it,” he said.

Wrigley Field is the back drop of Ferris Bueler's Day Off and other films shot in Chicago

Wrigley Field is the back drop of Ferris Bueler's Day Off and other films shot in Chicago

But instead of concentrating on one movie made in Chicago, Brinkman thought visitors and residents would enjoy seeing and hearing about all the movies with Chicago sights except a full tour could easily take a day.

“I had to narrow it down. I drove around the city and mapped out a route,” he said.

Brinkman does do private tours and some all day tours that include lunch. For his regular two-hour public tours, he has knowledgeable guides. All tours include film clips and interesting tidbits that might not be known except by movie aficionados and critics.

The name "Essanay," a film studio that used Charlie Chaplin, can still be seen on Argyle in Chicago

The name "Essanay," a film studio that used Charlie Chaplin, can still be seen on Argyle in Chicago

On a recent trip, the bus turned down Argyle, a narrow residential street in the Uptown neighborhood where it paused in front of St. Augustine College.

“Essanay” was emblazoned over a doorway. It is an amalgamation of Spoor and Anderson for George K. Spoor and Gilbert M. Anderson.

The building and back lot stretching from 1333 to 1345 had housed Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  whose most famous star was Charlie Chaplin. The silent movie legend had filmed “His New Job” in Chicago with Ben Turpin for Essanay.

After the tour HollywoodChicago.com movie critic Patrick McDonald, the guide for that day’s bus tour, said he enjoyed sharing movie knowledge with riders and introducing them to places they might not know.

“You can see where Essanay Studios was. It’s living history. Imagine rolling up to the place where the Great Chaplin walked through and did a film,” McDonald said. (Chaplin filmed “His New Job” in Chicago with Ben Turpin.)

Today, the Biograph houses live theater but movies and television remember it as a move theater where the FBI tracked down bank robber John Dillinger

Today, the Biograph houses live theater but movies and television remember it as a move theater where the FBI tracked down bank robber John Dillinger

Chicago Film Tour Details: Tickets $30 a person. Pick-up is Clark Street in front of the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonalds between Ohio and Ontario Streets. Because the bus only seats 36 people and most trips are sold out, reservations are highly recommended.

(All photos by Jodie Jacobs except Terminator 3 location shot)

What you ought to know about a Hollywood collection of stories

Book Review

Consider this a warning. Don’t read Hollywood Stories, a practically bottomless well of rich anecdotes collected by Stephen Schochet, if alone.

Even if you think you know about Hollywood personalities and clashes you are sure to find out something new in Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet

Even if you think you know about Hollywood personalities and clashes you are sure to find out something new in Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet

You will come upon a funny bit about two comedians such as the anecdote where George Burns is playing golf with Harpo Marx that is so good you will want to share it. No, I won’t tell you what happens .

Then, you will find yourself saying “I didn’t know that” when you read how a now famous actor got his start. And you will want to tell someone.

Luckily, I started reading the book evenings after other writing assignments were done.

The fortuitous timing meant that my husband who enjoys old movies and an occasional current flick, was nearby so I was able to say, “Listen to this” or “Did you know…?”

When I read during lunch and breaks. I had to find out what tidbits Schochet had found on Star Trek, Walt Disney and Disney characters and John Wayne plus stories about where stars lived and played.

However, no one was around to hear my latest find -make that Schochet’s find.

The author, a Hollywood tour guide, has been collecting stories for about 20 years. He tells many of them to his tour customers and on his syndicated Hollywood Stories radio feature.

Arguably, the next best thing to hearing him tell the stories is to read them. They are a welcome time off from work and hard news.

After finishing the book’s nearly 300 pages, each containing about three verbal snapshots of movie icons, I started making a holiday gift list of people who might appreciate the book. They should find it a fun read unless they would rather not explain to strangers why they are laughing aloud or saying, “oh!”

The caveat on Hollywood Stories is to not look for chapters on stars either alphabetically or by decade. An Index does list people, shows and places alphabetically but the chapters are divided into such segments as “Great Hollywood Comedians” and “Television Tales.”

Yes, the book has Hollywood in the title but the TV stories here seemed to fit well because the stars often lived in California or interacted with movie people.

Readers who want more info on a particular star need only look in the Bibliography. Schochet lists his sources.

To see how the author looks and sounds go to a TV interview available on UTube.

For more information visit Hollywoodstories

Hollywood Stories (Hollywood Stories Publishing, Los Angeles, CA $24.95 list, $17.96 online) is available at Amazon and  Barnes & Noble.

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