In the June issue, Marcia Froelke Coburn wrote “Chicago Onscreen,” our list of the top 40 movies of all time filmed in the Chicago area, one of a series of top 40 lists leading up to the magazine’s 40th anniversary in December. The list proved contentious online, where readers praised and criticized (but mostly criticized) the choices and rankings. Below is a selection of the comments, along with a response from Coburn. Join the discussion at chicagomag.com/top40movies.
TOMDARCH: Ooops. Major typo: High Fidelity [number 1] was obviously meant to be number 11, and The Blues Brothers [number 11] was, of course, unarguably, obviously number 1.
TEDS: Blues Brothers needs to be in the top ten. Chicago and its landmarks are [stars in it], plus that film was enormously influential in reviving Chicago as a film location.
CAM555: I think Chain Reaction deserves a place on the list. [It’s a] 1996 movie starring Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, and Rachel Weisz—not a particularly good movie, but locations included Hyde Park streets and homes, and there’s a chase scene that starts in the Field Museum and ends in the Museum of Science and Industry, as if [there] were one big-ass museum with dinosaurs and airplanes. It belongs on the list more than When Harry Met Sally for sure.
MARK G55: Home Alone WAS NOT FILMED in Chicago! I worked on the film and many others of John Hughes. All of it was shot in the northern suburbs, and the interiors [were shot] on sets built inside both gymnasiums and the swimming pool at New Trier High [School’s Northfield campus]. The school [had been] shuttered for several years at the time. Other John Hughes films shot there include Curly Sue and Uncle Buck. Home Alone 2 and 3, Dennis the Menace, Baby’s Day Out, etc., were filmed when John moved from New Trier High School to an abandoned indoor tennis court on Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood right across the street from Lincolnwood Town Center. The [site] did have a Chicago mailing address, though technically it was Lincolnwood.
TFLY: I’d really have to put My Bodyguard SOMEWHERE on this list. The whole damn movie was filmed in Lincoln Park. North by Northwest has barely memorable Chicago shots. Though it’s great Hitchcock, the Indiana [crop-duster] and Mount Rushmore shots easily trump Chicago.
ERINELLE: What about The Break-Up? Wrigley, the Riv . . . too bad they cut out the scene at Buckingham Fountain—I was an extra in that one, too! But my narcissism aside, that movie is almost more about Chicago than about the two leads. Consider Gary’s monologues on top of the bus about the Great Fire and why [Chicago is] called the Second City. The ways in which the characters rebuild themselves postbreakup seem secondary against that backdrop.
HOPKINS: I find it hard to believe that two of my favorite Chicago movies are missing from your list: Return to Me and Running Scared. The storylines in these movies feature Chicago landmarks, and the action and characters are pure Chicago.
Return to Me, starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, was written and directed by Chicago’s own Bonnie Hunt. It features the [former Great Ape House at the Lincoln Park Zoo] and a wonderful collection of characters at a typical Chicago neighborhood tavern/restaurant.
Running Scared, starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines, is a cop buddies tale where much of the action takes place on or near the el and concludes in Chicago’s State of Illinois Center (now known as the James R. Thompson Center).
COBURN: I do love The Blues Brothers. But for this assignment, I was on a mission from God—uh, I mean from the magazine—to write a list of the top 40 Chicago movies the way I saw them.
>> On Chain Reaction, CAM555 says exactly why it’s not on the list—it’s not a particularly good movie. The Hunter isn’t a good movie, either, but it’s on the list because its car chase scene has yet to be equaled here.
>> Our definition of Chicago movies includes the entire Chicago experience—which has to include suburban lives, too. So, yes, technically Home Alone was filmed in the suburbs, but it’s still a great Chicago-infused movie.
>> Lots of people agree about My Bodyguard, but I can’t get over the sappiness factor. And, yes, various shots in North by Northwest trump the Chicago shots, but North by Northwest is one of the all-time classics, and its small but thoughtful use of Chicago was innovative.
>> The Break-Up contains some great shots of Chicago landmarks, insider destinations, and history monologues. All of that I liked, but the acting and the plotting, with as many holes as a slice of Swiss cheese—to me, the parts don’t add up to a cohesive whole.
>> Running Scared might have been number 42, right after The Weather Man, if the list had been longer. And Return to Me? Gosh, I’d rather not.
Individual seats for Zero Gravity Corporation’s parabolic flights, which were mentioned in June’s Choose Your Own Summer Adventure, are not scheduled to be available in Chicago until 2011 but are available elsewhere.
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