Thursday, March 29, 2012

Music Box (Lakeview)

3733 N. Southport Avenue
The cushy seats, the organ player, the ghost. Featuring independent films and classic movies like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Birds, and City Lights, the Box, as I have always called it (no one calls it that, I have actually never ever called it that) is absolutely my favorite movie theatre in Chicago. If you are a movie freak, you need to go here.

Built in 1929, the theatre was considered one of the smaller movie houses in the city at the time. Whereas other 'movie palaces' housed at least 3,000 patrons, the Music Box's main theatre capacity maxed out at 800. A second theatre was added in 1991, which I have only been in once, and is decorated like an Italian garden. It is what I would want my at-home theatre to be if I ever had one so I could gobble gelato and talk in a fake Italian accent while watching my movies.

Notable screenings include the monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show where people dress up and go nuts and the yearly Music Box Massacre around Halloween, which is 24 hours of horror films. People are serious about that one. They bring sleeping bags. Others include The Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, Sing-A-Long Grease and the yearly screening of It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street the week before Christmas.

Another cool event that the theatre participates in is Turner Classic Movies' Classic Film Festival. Traveling across the U.S. to feature 10 classic films, each movie is presented by a TCM host and special guest. My friend Katie and I saw Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds where Tippi Hedren and Ben Mankiewicz chatted it up before the screening. Tippi Hedren is an adorable elder lady and had some fascinating stories about working with Hitchcock. Last year, Katie and I saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for the same festival.

Tippi Hedren and Ben Mankiewicz talking about Hitchcock's The Birds

I have gone here with friends, I've taken dates here, I've gone here by myself, and I always have a grand experience. There is nothing like seeing an old movie the way it is supposed to be seen. I am such a movie person and to have access to a stellar theatre like this one makes me giddy. If they ever show Singin' in the Rain here, I will lose my s*it.

Oh, the ghost thing. I've been here a bunch of times and I never heard about the theatre harboring a ghost. Whitey, the theatre manager's, ran the Music Box from 1929 to 1977. He was a totally friendly dude and his family lived two blocks away from the joint. So the night before Thanksgiving 1977, Whitey came back to close the theater, "fell asleep on the couch in the lobby and never woke up." The Music Box website says to say hello to the ghost if you see him. I'm not going to talk to a ghost! Are you crazy??

Above: The organ player, Dennis Scott
Below: Popcorn, mmmm

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