A Very Noir Visit To Lincoln Park And The Biograph Theatre

The Biograph Theatre

The Biograph Theatre

FADE IN SEPIA TONE:

EXT. BIOGRAPH THEATRE/LINCOLN AND FULLERTON – ESTABLISHING SCENE

It’s a sultry day in 1934. “Manhattan Melodrama” is the film playing Biograph Theatre. The 2433 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is red pressed brick and white-glazed terra cotta. It also happens to be a fateful day for John Dillinger. The infamous bank robber is shot dead just to the east of the theatre in an alleyway.

Or so we’re led to believe.

FADE TO PRESENT DAY/FULL COLOR:

EXT. BIOGRAPH THEATRE/CLOSE SHOT – CHUCK JINES

Chuck Jines is a streetwise Chicago photographer. He’d probably be right at home in the 1930s with his Argus C3, one of the first 35mm cameras, affectionately known as “the brick” because of its heft. This is 2013, and everyone else in the Chicago Street Photography Group this chilly November 2 morning has a digital camera. Chuck is nonplussed. He marches to the beat of a different drummer. Chuck is leading the group of latter-day Weegees around the Biograph.

JINES
(standing in a grimy alleyway on Lincoln)

This is the spot. It’s where John Dillinger was shot and killed. At least that’s what some people say. . . There’s some controversy over whether it’s true.

GROUP OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHERS
(holding cameras at eye level)

Point at the spot! Point at the spot!

JINES
(obliges and points downward)

SFX: Click/click/click/click

JINES

Leads the group behind the theatre to another alley. A rattrap sits on the side of the building, along with grime and assorted schmutz. The photographers gasp as Jines points to the side of an adjacent building with a gash in the brickwork.

Some people say that’s where a bullet hit and bounced off during the chase. (HE PAUSES)
Others say. . . it might have just been some other dude who got shot.

CUT TO EXT. UNDER CTA BROWN LINE TRACKS AT FULLERTON AND SHEFFIELD.

The street photographers photograph the grimy underside of the tracks as CTA trains lumber past.

JINES

I like to look at the darker side of life. This area is really a little too clean and gentrified. It’s getting to be the same way in Logan Square (he sighs).

Suddenly, a twentysomething girl holding a Target bag and a Starbucks cup crosses the street. Jines jumps into action, and in a split second, he darts into traffic to photograph the startled pedestrian.

JINES
(Returning to the sidewalk)

You always have to be ready to capture a shot.

EXT. ALLEY AT HALSTED AND FULLERTON

The group of street photographers follows Jines down the alley. Tentatively, they raise their cameras to shoot dumpsters, power lines, and ventilation ducts.

FADE OUT

THE END

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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