Chicago: Public Enemies Movie Set

29 05 2008

This May, Hollywood once again descended on the city of Chicago with the filming of Public Enemies. Directed by Michael Mann, this feature film is about the FBI’s take down of notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and and Pretty Boy Floyd during the 1930s. Johnny Depp is playing John Dillinger while Christian Bale is playing Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent on his case as Public Enemy #1.

Above: Photo of John Dillinger
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

It’s always exciting when Chicago is featured in Hollywood movies, but this movie takes the cake in terms of using the Windy City as a backdrop. As you may know, John Dillinger was shot to death by the FBI in the alley by the Biograph Theater in Chicago. The FBI’s website has a fantastic summary of what happened with John Dillinger, which you can access here. The movie is being filmed at this actual location. Talk about an authentic reenactment!

Above: Biograph Theater circa 1930s
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Biograph Theater is located in the heart of Lincoln Park on Lincoln Avenue just north of Fullerton. What the director has done is transform the entire block into 1930s Chicago. The movie crew has laid cobblestones in the middle of the street and recreated storefronts from that era.

Well, enough talk – below are the movie set pictures!

The moviemakers have recreated every detail, including what movie was playing the very night Dillinger was shot on July 22, 1934. Ironically, Manhattan Melodrama was a movie about a gangster.

Through the magic of Google Maps Street View, we can see what the Biograph Theater and the surrounding street usually look like. The theater was recently restored, so there actually weren’t any major changes. Click on the little man when the map pops up for the Street View.

Click Here to View Map

Here are closeups of some of the storefronts. I love all the details.

The picture below is a view from the other side of the Biograph Theater.

This is the liquor store right next to the theater.

In today’s time, this supermarket is a Qdoba Mexican Grill.

And here is the infamous alley where John Dillinger was shot by the FBI. Notice the modern condo building behind it.

On the other side of the alley is a Chinese takeout place and a jeweler.

Across the street is the Red Lion, which funny enough they didn’t need to change very much for the movie set.

Below is a picture of The Red Lion in modern times.

Photo by Chris A from Yelp

Here are some more stores across the street from the Biograph.

A. Zito Bakery

What a fantastic transformation of this street – it was like going back in time. I just love that the director decided to film that scene at the actual location of the historical event, and I love seeing this recreation of 1930s Chicago. The great thing is that many of these buildings only required small changes. I suppose there are little bits of history everywhere if you only know where to look!




2 responses

16 06 2008
Chicago: Public Enemies Filming at Night « Travels with Sandy

[…] For a daytime view of this street all set up for the filming, see my previous post on Public Enemies. […]

2 07 2009

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