Hollywood on Lake Michigan…review and a giveaway

1Film historian Arnie Bernstein, a self-described “movie nut” wrote a book several years ago about the movie industry in Chicago.  Fate brought that book to the attention of Michael Corcoran, a certified Chicago Tour Guide who runs the Chicago Cinema Tour.  The collaboration of the latter revamped the former’s original work to create a super Second edition of Hollywood on Lake Michigan:  100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies.

Hollywood on Lake Michigan takes a comprehensive look at the motion picture industry since its arrival in Chicago with an in-depth look at the silent era through discussions of the Windy City as portrayed in modern blockbusters like The Dark Knight trilogy films.  Also included are local independent films and filmmakers.

In sections dedicated to large areas of Chicago – Downtown, North, West and South – Arnstein and Corcoran discuss specific locations like those used in films like The Blues Brothers (1980), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Primal Fear (1996), a personal favorite.  Early film history is covered with a look at the film companies that set up shop in Chicago in the early 1900s, the development of the earliest camera systems, histories of the grand movie houses that graced its streets and discussions of early players like film pioneer William Nicholas Selig, who made the first version of Baum’s, The Wizard of Oz in Chicago in 1910.

Particularly interesting to this reader are some of the back stories included in the book, such as details of the

Chicago film history - the Biograph Theater
Chicago film history – the Biograph Theater

crimes that led 20th Century Fox producer, Darryl F. Zanuck to make Call Northside 777 (1948) in Chicago.  Northside was directed by Henry Hathaway and stars James Stewart.

Worthy of note is that there’s a lot of television history in Hollywood on Lake Michigan as well.  Locations like The Second City where many legends of comedy were born are discussed in detail.

In short, there is plenty in Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies to appeal to all manner of enthusiasts, film and history buffs included.  The book is written with great affection for the places and the art that resulted, which makes it a highly entertaining read.

A giveaway

I must thank Josh Williams, Publicist of Triumph Books for sending me a copy of Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies to review.  But that isn’t all.  Mr. Williams was also gracious enough to send me three additional copies of the book to offer readers of Once Upon a Screen.

If you’re interested in film, in film history or have an affection for Chicago, Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies is a must read and you can win a copy of the book by following these simple steps:

  • Post a comment on this post noting your favorite film shot in Chicago or that has a story set in Chicago.
  • Do so by Saturday, September 7th at midnight (EST). The three winners will be chosen at random on September 8th.
  • Please include either your Facebook or twitter tag, blog name or email address so I can contact you if you’re one of the lucky winners.

(Restricted to those with U.S. and/or Canada addresses only.)

Thanks and good luck!


Chicago in Noir
Chicago in Noir

42 thoughts

  1. I do not qualify for this contest, but did want to say that I find the story of “Call Northside 777” fascinating. I can’t imagine the sacrifice and determination that the mother showed in trying to free her convicted son.

    1. I really have to say “Some Like it Hot” is one of my favorite Classic Films set in Chicago(In the beginning), then to go on to Florida. but, I had heard the Florida location was actually a resort Hotel on Lake Michigan..do you know?

  2. Northside 777..I need to get that out this weekend, it’s been too long.

    Wait. A book with my two favorite subjects in it?!?!? How do I not have this already? Big fail on my part. As soon as I find out a movie is about, or shot, in Chicago I am drawn to it…..and there are so many!

      1. My favorite is still probably The Fugitive, because Chicago plays a very big part in that movie. Also, I may have a crush on Tommy Lee Jones. And okay, Harrison Ford. 😉

  3. In Old Chicago (1937) with Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Don Ameche is a Chicago-set film I’m especially fond of…(and then there’s Some Like it Hot (1959), partially set there)

  4. Thanks for the great review, Aurora! And this giveaway is exciting. I would be more than happy to sign the lucky winner’s copies if they live in (or are ever visiting) Chicago.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping in, Michael! I really enjoyed the book and cannot wait to visit Chicago and take your tour! AND offering to sign copies is just fabulous! I’ll make a notation on the post in case the winners are in the area.


  5. I lived in Chicago 20plus yrs.& luv all the movies made there old & new, but my Fav. Was BLUES BROTHERS! & my B-Day is 9/10!! LUV what you do! @karin melster

  6. Ferris Bueller’s day Off. Much of the movie is set in the suburbs, but there are several scenes in the city. Always made me want to visit and finally did and fell in love with the city.

  7. The Dark Knight and Blues Brothers are the first movies to come to mind. A lot of great city locations are shown in both, and you can’t beat Gotham City. Probably not a nice place to visit with the Joker causing chaos, but a great place to see nonetheless. 🙂

  8. While being a silent film fan, the first one that comes to mind would be Chicago 1927(1928?) although I don’t think it was shot there. Quite fond of the Blue Brothers film. It’s a film I can watch endlessly. All those great singers, all those great shots of the streets!

    1. I’ve yet to see the 1927 silent! I’ll add it to my watch list! And well, who doesn’t love the Blues Brothers? 🙂

      Thanks for stopping in!


    1. I’ve yet to see that. Although it’s mentioned in the book from which I compiled an impressive list of MUST-SEES to add to me previous MUST-SEE list.

      Thanks so much for participating in this giveaway!


    1. I often overlook that movie but I remember when I saw it in a theater when first released I cried from laughing so hard at the misadventures!!

      Thanks for participating!


  9. Chicago is one of my favorite cities, and so many great films have been set there. I love In the Good Old Summertime and Wedding Present, which are set in Chicago but weren’t filmed there. A Raisin in the Sun, which was shot in and is set in Chicago, is another favorite. The ’80s were a great decade for Chicago in film too, between John Hughes’ films, Adventures in Babysitting, About Last Night… and (who could forget?) Child’s Play!

    For giveaway purposes, my twitter handle is @tmplindsey. 🙂

    1. GREAT LIST and mentions, Lindsey! The book discusses the resurgence of Chicago filmmaking and all the films you make note of. Thanks for participating.


  10. My favorite film shot in Chicago is Haskel Wexler’s “Medium Cool”. It was about a certain time, and place in our country’s history. Not only that, it signified the turbulence that took place in the late 60s, and it remains one of the greatest documentaries of all-time, where fact, and fiction seemed to merge.

    Twitter handle: @_dhollings

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