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posted: 8/26/2010 12:01 AM

'Untouchables' tops Chicago-made movies

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  • Dann and Raymond agree: "The Untouchables" is the quintessential Chicago film.

    Dann and Raymond agree: "The Untouchables" is the quintessential Chicago film.

and Raymond Benson

Dann: Raymond! I was walking to the Lake Street Screening Room in Chicago when I noticed a Wabash parking garage heaped with twisted, smashed cars and huge chunks of broken concrete. It was a set for "Transformers 3" being filmed right here in Chicago. And that got me thinking about other movies - the good kind - shot in and around the Windy City. Do you have any favorites?

Raymond: Quite a few. The first major Hollywood feature film to be shot in our metropolis wasn't until 1948: the true crime investigative noir pic "Call Northside 777" with James Stewart. I like that a lot, for starters.

Dann: For me, the quintessential Chicago movie has to be Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables." It's about Chicago, shot in Chicago and it won an Oscar for Sean Connery as a Windy City beat cop drafted by Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness to be a member of his elite federal team.

Raymond: You beat me to it! That's my favorite Chicago movie, too. All right, Mr. Capone, here's another goodie: "My Bodyguard," a little 1980 heart warmer by Tony Bill that's also one of the best movies about high school ever made. It features Matt Dillon as a bully, and watch for a young Joan Cusack

Dann: And a young Jennifer Beals and Adam Baldwin. Several wonderful teen movies have been shot here: "16 Candles," "Risky Business," "The Breakfast Club." And who could forget "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with that great parade sequence in the Loop?

Raymond: We can thank the late John Hughes for those good teen movies. Adam Baldwin also has a supporting role as one of Timothy Hutton's high school friends in the excellent "Ordinary People" that was made in Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff. Several films were made in the North suburbs, including Robert Altman's "A Wedding."

Dann: Right you are, Raymond. In fact, I say that the four most important movies ever made in Chicagoland are "A Wedding," "Ordinary People," "My Bodyguard" and "The Blues Brothers."

Raymond: OK, why?

Dann: They were at the vanguard of the Windy City renaissance as a filmmaking capital in the late 1970s and early '80s. Up to then, Mayor Richard Dailey the First had virtually banned movie production in Chicago because of how negatively Haskell Wexler's classic "Medium Cool" depicted Chicago's handling of the 1968 National Democratic Convention riots. After Daley died in 1976, the cinematic floodgates opened, and these four movies put Chicago instantly on the movie map because they were well-made and they made money.

Raymond: What about action movies, Dann? Hit me with some titles that are known for Chicago scenery.

Dann: I'd go with "The Blues Brothers" with the Blues Mobile crashing through the glass at Daley Plaza, and "The Fugitive" with another momentous parade sequence.

Raymond: Then there's "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," although the latter shows off the city more, and quite spectacularly. The showdown on LaSalle Street is quite the set-piece. Remember in Steve McQueen's last movie "The Hunter," there's that iconic scene in which a car shoots into the air off the Marina City Tower parking lot and lands in the Chicago River?

Dann: A spectacular stunt with no digital effects! Actually, that's about the only thing anyone remembers from "The Hunter" because it really wasn't worthy of being McQueen's last movie.

Raymond: How about "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"? One of the creepiest and most realistic horror/crime movies ever made. And speaking of horror, there are all kinds of scary movies made in and around Chicago, like that - Cough! Cough! - remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street." In my book, the best horror movie made in Chicago is "Candyman." Cabrini Green as a setting for horror. Who woulda thought?

Dann: That reminds me. "Transformers 3" will be coming out soon. Prepare to be really horrified.

• Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "Sweet Home Movies: Films Made in the Windy City" with discussions and clips at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9, Dann & Raymond present "On the Banned Wagon: Hollywood's Forbidden Films" at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton St., Arlington Heights. Free admission at both venues.

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