This week we continue with our Great Chicago Films to Watch While Stuck at Home. With Chicago being the one of a kind city that it is, it’s no wonder we needed more than one post to cover the many iconic films that show off our great city. These flicks are available on Netflix or Amazon. So without further ado, here are more standout films that feature the Windy City.
High Fidelity: Starring John Cusack, Jack Black, and Lisa Bonet, 2000’s High Fidelity is a love letter to music and the importance it has in our lives and emotions. Based on the 1995 novel by Nick Hornby, the film’s setting is moved from London to Chicago, where Cusack plays a recently dumped record store owner trying to understand what went wrong by seeking out his former flames. The Wicker Park neighborhood is prominently featured throughout this rom-com. The film also provides scenes of iconic Chicago establishments, including the Biograph Theater, Music Box Theater, and the Lounge Ax.
Batman Begins/ The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan’s first two Batman films elevated the superhero genre and earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. What set the tone for both films was the Chicago setting that morphed the Windy City into the gritty Gotham City Nolan envisioned. The Richard M. Daley Center served as the Wayne Enterprises headquarters, and Lower Wacker Drive offered the perfect location for the memorable Batman vs. Joker chase scene. The Old Chicago Main Post Office provides the setting for The Dark Knight’s opening bank robbery sequence. Chicago is all over these two films, and the city’s architecture makes it the undisputed best Gotham City so far on film.
The Fugitive: Harrison Ford stars in this 1993 film version of the popular television show from the 60s. Ford plays a doctor who is accused of murdering his wife and on the run from the authorities, including an Oscar-winning performance by Tommy Lee Jones as a U.S. Marshall, as he desperately hunts for the one-armed man who committed the crime. Chicago highlights in the film include scenes taking place in the Pullman District, the Four Seasons Hotel located at 120 E. Delaware Place, and the climactic ending filmed at the Chicago Hilton and Towers located at 720 S. Michigan Avenue.
Backdraft: This 1991 Ron Howard directed firefighter epic stars Kurt Russell and William Baldwin as two firefighting brothers dealing with a dangerous arsonist. The film’s firehouses are located at 3002 W. 42nd Street in Brighton Park and the Chinatown Fire Station located on Cermack Road. Backdraft showcases plenty of locations throughout the city, including shots of the “L” and the soon to be restored Uptown Theater.
Barbershop: 2002’s Barbershop directed by Tim Story takes place during one Chicago winter day at a South Side barbershop where hilarity and hijinks ensue. The film stars Ice Cube as the barbershop owner whose father handed the business down to him. He decides to sell the storeand then desperately tries to get it back after realizing how important it is to the neighborhood. Co-starring Cedric The Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, and Keith David, Barbershop highlights Chicago’s South Side on film highlighted by the title setting at 79th Street and Exchange Avenue.
Widows: The latest entry is this 2018 riveting thriller directed by Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Colin Farrell. The plot revolves around four Chicago widows who attempt to steal $5 million from a Chicago politician. They need the cash so they can pay back the crime boss that their husbands stole from before being killed during a getaway attempt gone wrong. The film includes shots filmed at Chicago’s oldest restaurant, Daley’s, then located at 809 E. 63rd Street in Woodlawn (the 125-year-old institution recently moved across the street). The penthouse apartment of Davis’ character is located at the Mies van der Rohe penthouses on Lake Shore Drive. Widows film does a fantastic job of using the whole city in its current state as a backdrop to propel the story.
That does it for this crop of great Chicago films, but it is by no means a complete list. Chicago is a unique and striking city that will continue to see filmmakers eager to use its one of a kind settings to help tell their stories for years to come.
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO