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Article posted: 11/21/2013 6:00 AM

Get in on Classic Cinemas' free holiday movies

Peter Billingsley, right, witnesses the result of a dare in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story.”

Peter Billingsley, right, witnesses the result of a dare in the holiday classic "A Christmas Story."

Cary Grant stars in “North By Northwest,” part of a special 30th anniversary celebration at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago.

Cary Grant stars in "North By Northwest," part of a special 30th anniversary celebration at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago.

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Happy Classic holiday!

Classic Cinemas, the Downers Grove-based theater chain run by Willis, Shirley and Chris Johnson since 1978, will offer special holiday films in December, many with free admission. Here are participating theaters in the suburbs. Go to


• Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove: "A Christmas Story," 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 8 (free); "Love Actually," 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 9 (free); "Miracle on 34th Street," 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 10 (free); "White Christmas," 1:30, 4, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 11 (free); "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 12 (free); and "It's a Wonderful Life," 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 ($5 donation)

• Woodstock Theatre, 209 Main St., Woodstock: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 10 a.m. Dec. 1 (free)

• Fox Lake Theatre, 115 Towne Centre Lane, Fox Lake: "Rise of the Guardians," 10 a.m. Dec. 7 (free, plus kids can meet Santa before the show)

• Charlestowne 18 Theatre, 3740 E. Main St., St. Charles: "Rise of the Guardians," 11 a.m. Dec. 7 (free)

• York Theatre, 150 N. York St., Elmhurst: "Elf," 9:30 a.m. Dec. 14 (free)

• Cinema 12 Theatre, 100 LW Besinger Drive, Carpentersville: "Elf," 10 a.m. Dec. 21 (free, plus kids can meet Santa before the movie)

• Ogden 6 Theatre, 1227 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville: "Elf," noon Dec. 15 (free, plus kids can meet Santa before the movie)

• Elk Grove Village Theatre, 1050 Arlington Heights Road, Elk Grove Village: "Elf," 10 a.m. Dec. 14 (free, plus kids can meet Santa before the movie)

Happy 30th Music Box

Congratulations to Chicago's Music Box Theatre on its three decades of excellence and diversity in cinematic programming. The theater, at 3733 N. Southport Ave., opened in August of 1929 with an unheard-of seating capacity of 800. (Movie palaces at the time could pack in as many as 3,000 viewers.)

The now-refurbished theater fell on hard times and desperate programming (showing porn for a while) before reopening under new management in 1983. Every since, the Music Box has become a major jewel in the Windy City's entertainment, culture and architectural crowns.

I once joined Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, at the Music Box to announce the winners of the Chicago Film Critics Awards. Next May, the Music Box will host the second annual Chicago Critics Film Festival. It's a special place.

No wonder the Chicago City Council proclaimed Friday, Nov. 22, as "Music Box Theatre Day in Chicago." So to celebrate, the theater will devote the last two weeks of its fall schedule to the sort of programming it did 30 years ago: Each day will offer a double-feature of two films connected by a similar theme.

First up on Friday will be a "mistaken identity" combo of Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" and the Coen brothers' "The Big Lebowski." Let's not forget the Music Box's popular singalong of "The Sound of Music" starting Nov. 29 and the annual holiday double-bill of "White Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life" on Dec. 13.

Go to for tickets, schedules and information.

Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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