Oh, movies—how I adore you. You're like my third parent or second girlfriend or both, which is where things really start to get weird. It's a good thing that I recently movied (whoops! I meant moved
) from Iowa to Chicago, because in the past year alone, this city has been the backdrop to several major motion pictures, including "Wanted," "The Dark Knight" and "Eagle Eye." This isn't a new trend; classic movies have called Chicago home since before the Bay of Pigs. But as a new Chicagoan, I've made it my mission to seek out locations from all of my favorite Chicago movies, and reenact my favorite scenes.
"The Untouchables" at Union Station
Easily the best scene in "The Untouchables," the story of how Elliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) took down Al Capone, was filmed on the nearly never-ending steps of Union Station. Costner waits for some gangsters to arrive by train; everything's quiet. A mother and her baby—in a baby carriage—are struggling to climb the stairs, and Big K reluctantly helps them. That's when the gangsters arrive and—BAM! Suddenly the music cues, all hell breaks loose and Kevin Costner must simultaneously save the baby carriage from tumbling backwards down the stairs and shoot at hitmen with a shotgun. The station itself looks almost exactly the same as it did in the movie, save for the eyesore of a gift shop at the bottom of the steps.
"The Blues Brothers" at Daley Center
One of the craziest musicals of all time, "The Blues Brothers" has one of the greatest car chases in movie history. It creates a path of destruction from one end of Chicago to the other (thwarting vengeful cops and killing neo-nazis in the process) and ending with a heaping crash inside the Daley Center. The truth is, there are plenty of great Chicago scenes in this movie (John Belushi was native, after all), but this one is the high point, the climax and the coup de grace. And it's the most convincing reason for why "The Blues Brothers" is the best Chicago musical of all time—way better than that other Chicago musical, "Chicago."
"Risky Business" on the Red Line
This is the scene I refuse to reenact. "Let's make love on a real train," so says Rebecca De Mornay to Tom Cruise near the end of "Risky Business." For the most part, "Risky" takes place in the North Shore suburbs, just like every other movie about teenagers in the eighties. But this, the second most memorable scene (not the dancing in the underwear one), took place on the Red Line. Why is it so memorable? Per their word, the two actually have sex on a train (which is to say, their characters do). Are you reading this? They had sex on an L train, which immediately transforms this '80s dramedy into a horror movie. People, the reason you don't have sex on the L is because people have already had sex on it!
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at the Art Institute of Chicago
This is probably the most famous Chicago movie of all time, in part because it's so popular and in part because it's basically just about taking a trip to Chicago. On Ferris' day off, he and his friends do everything Chicago is famous for (which would be virtually impossible in the paltry few hours he has to do it in): They go to the Sears Tower, check out the stock market, catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, take part in some unknown Wayne Newton parade and, most important, for the purposes of this guide anyway, they stroll through the Art Institute. This particular scene is actually very beautiful, editing almost still shots of famous paintings and sculptures into a single montage, lingering just a moment longer on "Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat.
"The Fugitive" at Hilton Chicago
Remember when "The Fugitive" came out in 1993? Strange as it seems now, it was the IT movie at the time. Everyone and their dog was making one-armed man jokes and threatening to jump off dams. Well, Chicago plays a big part in this film about the wrongfully accused Richard Kimball (Harrison Ford), mostly with random spots on the street and the St. Patrick's Day Parade (guest starring Mayor Daley). But the most intense scenes take place at the end of the movie in the Hilton, where, in a surprise twist, Kimball's best friend turns out to be the bad guy. Say it ain't so!
"Batman Begins" on Lower Wacker
This is the Batman movie that saved Batman movies, and big chunks of it were filmed in Chicago (though the movie "takes place" in Gotham City). Hands down the coolest scene, and the one that most frequently features Chicago, was the Batmobile chase along Lower Wacker Drive. Two things excite me most when I'm watching movies: seeing explosions and seeing places I'm familiar with. Thus, seeing places I'm familiar with and explosions was just too good for words. Though Lower Wacker Drive is pretty barebones and, for the most part, uninteresting, it does make for a great, claustrophobic car chase.