Top 40 Movies Filmed in Chicago

CHICAGO ONSCREEN: We raided our Netflix accounts to compile this list of the 40 best movies ever filmed in Chicago

Photos: (Hoop Dreams) KTCA Minneapolis, (Soul Food) TM and © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection, (The Blues Brothers) Universal Pictures, (High Fidelity) Dogstar Films

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20. Primal Fear (1996)
Someone has killed Chicago’s archbishop: Richard Gere defends Edward Norton, taking his first major movie role, in this suspenseful and, at times, tricky drama.

19. Thief (1981)
The director Michael Mann’s debut film is an atmospheric heist, including scenes at the Green Mill and a first big-screen appearance by Jim Belushi.

18. Road to Perdition (2002)
Visually stunning pictures tell the story of 1930s Chicago gangsters, with bleak weather mirroring the characters’ hearts.

17. Stir of Echoes (1999)
Not even six degrees separate Kevin Bacon from the intense paranormal creepiness in his seemingly normal working-class neighborhood.

16. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002)
Not great storytelling, but the grainy band-at-work documentary follows Wilco through the recording of their pivotal album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

15. Public Enemies (2009)
Michael Mann’s expert use of 1930s locations captures the tarnished-gilt spirit of the Depression, while Johnny Depp humanizes Dillinger.

14. The Company (2003)
Brilliantly unexpected direction by Robert Altman makes this ensemble movie about the Joffrey Ballet feel like a documentary.

13. The Fugitive (1993)
One of the top catch-him-if-you-can films, with the falsely accused Harrison Ford being chased all over Chicago—including through Cook County Hospital and a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

12. Dislocation (2005)
Gritty documentary follows three local families during the demolition of their public housing project and their move to a strange new world.

11. The Blues Brothers (1980)
Their kind of town: The homeboy John Belushi, along with Dan Aykroyd, established Chicago as a raucously blues-singing, car-crashing, soul-swinging place.

10. Barbershop (2002)
What we talk about when we talk about life: An ensemble cast offers a window into African American culture via a South Side institution.

9. The Color of Money (1986)
Martin Scorsese casts the city’s West and South Side neighborhoods as supporting characters in a saga about a cagey, aging pool hustler (Paul Newman) and his protégé (Tom Cruise).

8. The Dark Knight (2008)
Holy cityscape! A spectacular last performance by Heath Ledger; plus 34 city locations, including the legendary bar Twin Anchors, are cast as Batman’s Gotham City.

7. Risky Business (1983)
What happens when the Home Alone-type kid grows up to be enterprising teenager Tom Cruise, including a sparky sex scene on the el.

6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
John Hughes wrote and directed a classic love letter to Chicago and to the kid in all of us who just wants some time to goof off.

5. Medium Cool (1969)
Melding cinéma vérité and fiction, the director Haskell Wexler captured the explosive mood of the summer of 1968, including footage of the Democratic convention riots.

4. Call Northside 777 (1948)
The first major Hollywood movie shot in Chicago, this film-noirish classic stars James Stewart as a skeptical reporter who ends up establishing the innocence of a wrongly convicted murderer.

3. Mickey One (1965)
French New Wave meets Nelson Algren when Warren Beatty and the director Arthur Penn, pre-Bonnie and Clyde, team up for a paranoid-man-on-the-run tale.

2. Hoop Dreams (1994)
Amazing documentary gives an intimate four-year look at two Chicago inner-city high-school athletes, their dreams, and those who exploit them.

1. High Fidelity (2000)
The British writer Nick Hornby’s novel was re-homed here, where the audiophile John Cusack goes on a quest to understand women. Does the music make this man or keep him from growing up? It’s a rich, textured movie that—like your favorite LP—only gets better with time. It defines Chicago as a city of doers, dreamers, and slackers—a real place for real lives.


4 years ago
Posted by professor marvel

no "a league of their own?!" this list is far from complete!

4 years ago
Posted by cristela81


4 years ago
Posted by Erich74

Netflix? Seriously? For being a local magazine that tries to promote local, I would have thought Marcia would have mentioned and promoted local businesses like Facets. Facets has the greatest collection of rare, classic and popular films in the country and rents on-line, in the mail as well as in their local store on Fullerton. Plus, they're a non-profit that's been here for over 35 years! So next time Chicago Magazine, you should check your "Facets Account".

4 years ago
Posted by tomdarch

Ooops. Major typo: High Fidelity was obviously meant to be #11, and The Blues Brothers was, of course, unarguably, obviously #1. Good thing that these little slips of the finger are so easy to fix! Now hop to it, before I have to send an angry Country band, neo-Nazis, a vengeful ex-girlfriend and the totality of law enforcement in the Chicago metro area after you!

Can anyone claim that Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer isn't better than at least one of the lesser films on this list?

Mahogany doesn't deserve to be on this list, but it has some great, gritty shots of Chicago.

4 years ago
Posted by zff

Wow, what a horrendous list, I don't even know where to start.

All I can say is that you have "Barbershop" ahead of "Blues Brothers."

This is absolutely terrible.

4 years ago
Posted by teds

Waaay too ethereal, film noir flicks bumping "Blues Brothers" out of Top 10. List may be a hit with film critics, but it's a bust with average Chicagoans.

4 years ago
Posted by cstpmo

Just an fyi you really need to not throw this together when most likely most of your readers are from Chicago. Btw the "Color of Money" was shot at Chris's Billiards, 4637 North Milwaukee Avenue that's pretty far north from the west and south sides....

4 years ago
Posted by Spike10

Really, Blues Brothers as #1? Do you still sleep on Star Wars sheets? While I do agree that it is a great movie, and Joliet Jake does get out of a prison that sits about 2 miles from where I grew up, I don't think it should sit at #1. Obviously we all have our opinions on what should be #1, but I'd like to see someone else try to come up with a list that covers all genres and demographics. Oh, and thanks for the tip on Facets, I will check it out.

4 years ago
Posted by Nick

What about "Bad Boys" with Sean Penn? The opening sequence shot of Rush Street is a total blast from the past and I think they also filmed in a neighborhood or two.

4 years ago
Posted by KaplanMike2010

When Harry Met Sally is so New York, I don't care if the opening scenes were shot in Chicago. It's a ringer. How about some real local greats, like My Bodyguard and Running Scared (great El chase sequence and the debut of unknown Jimmy Smits)?

4 years ago
Posted by teds

Spike, in terms of movies that showcase the city of Chicago, "Dark Knight" is way up there, but "Blues Brothers" needs to be in the Top 10. Chicago and its landmarks are a star in the "Blues Brothers," plus that film was enormously influential in reviving Chicago as a film location. Dang, that's an important movie in Chicago film history, definitely top 10. I'm not saying the quality of the script or the acting equals the caliber of "North by Northwest" (which, incidentally, also deserves to be in the Top 10), but as far as "Top Movies Filmed in Chicago" goes, "Blues Brothers" belongs in the Top 10. Period.

4 years ago
Posted by xaocoh

Where's Adventures in Babysitting on this list?

4 years ago
Posted by cfusco

No love for The Fugitive?

4 years ago
Posted by Marty B

I would throw in "Return to Me" with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver - filmed mostly at Twin Anchors, plus a long scene at the now-defunct Marigold Bowl as well as other minor Chicago landmarks. Captures the spirit of Chicagoans pretty well, with great supporting turns by Caroll O'Connor, Jim Belushi and Bonnie Hunt. A contrived but pleasant romcom, which is better at what it wants to do than, say, "Stir of Echoes."

4 years ago
Posted by Marty B

And seriously, get "When Harry Met Sally" out of there. That movie is a love song to New York.

4 years ago
Posted by drake

Ms. Coburn is right...everyone's a critic.
It's a LIMITED list of 40 films, not a list of every single movie that was ever shot in Chicago. Stop whining that YOUR favorite film wasn't ranked to your satisfaction. No one asked you to write the article.

I found the list very interesting and informative...I was surprised to see that some of these movies were shot in our great city.

4 years ago
Posted by oakparkprofessor

Love Jones has to be added to the list. Gorgeous shots of LSD and Buckingham Fountain throughout the film. Chicago's stepping scenes were on display. Wonderful shots of the city's wide boulevards. The lead male character wrote for New City for goodness' sake.

4 years ago
Posted by roserv11

Robert Altman's "A Wedding" beats out "My Best Friend's Wedding". And only 5 minutes of "When Harry met Sally" was filmed in Chicago - what the heck?

4 years ago
Posted by Sugar

This list is great. It reminded me of favorites that I haven't seen in decades. Some of the choices I have never seen and am looking forward to checking out! Thanks!

4 years ago
Posted by browndog

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer definitely deserves to be on the list along with Mamet's House of Games.

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