Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ratings Game Redux 9: The Big Town

Next week's Register-Mail list focuses on movies set in Chicago. While plenty of films fit this category, many are not actually shot in the city. But I've chosen movies that depend on location shooting, and that appreciate Chicago's big-shouldered capacity for scrutiny and mayhem, a city that looks older than it is--considering its post-Colonial birth and, you know, that fire--standing at the top of the state, sending out railroad tracks like Walt Whitman's spider, that "launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself." One could argue Chicago invented the Midwest; but it's at least safe to say it invented itself, and still tries to draw everything to it, to "catch somewhere" "till the ductile anchor hold."

(Note: No John Hughes movies; I left that Day Off to my fellow Gamers.)

Blues Brothers (1980)
“It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it.” So begins the quintessential Chicago journey-quest, a mission from God that reveres every famous landmark it (almost) demolishes.

The Untouchables (1987)
The Union Station/Battleship Potemkin homage indicates the mythic qualities Brian DePalma gives Chicago, at first bathed in darkness (and blood), then shining like gold in its triumphant climax.

Call Northside 777 (1948)
Assertively shot on location, at mean-street level. Reporter Jimmy Stewart dogs working-class neighborhoods and brick-and-granite bureaucracies to free convicted murderer Richard Conte.

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