United Artists Theatre

45 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

Unfavorite 31 people favorited this theater

Showing 51 - 75 of 144 comments

JudithK on May 20, 2010 at 12:41 am

Block 37 finally did open again after an extraordinary delay in 2010. I must admit that it looks much better than it did when the United Artists theatre was still there (though I kind of liked the UA). The last time I was in the UA was in 1972 for a showing of “Cabaret”.

KenC on April 7, 2010 at 3:22 am

Bryan- thanks for sharing that great photo. That double feature played from January 4 to the 17th, 1980. Notice the 3 sets of steel doors facing the street. On Friday and Saturday nights, when there was a full- or almost full- house, the ushers would open those side doors. That way, the audience from the main floor- and the balcony,too- could easily exit onto Dearborn, thus avoiding the crowd lined up on Randolph, tickets in hand, waiting for the next showing. To Mike- in May of 1968, was Morrie still taking tickets? Was Eddie still working as a porter? And was Mr. Milstein still a manager? By the early 70s he was one of the managers of the Loop theatre. In late 1964, ushers started at 80 cents an hour. After 6 months, you got 90 cents. “Candy girls” got $1.00 hour; ticket sellers $1.25- if memory serves.

kencmcintyre on April 6, 2010 at 2:49 am

Sorry, the Woods photo should be on a different page.

barryr on December 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Hey David Zornig, I had the same observation about KenMc’s 04/11/09 post with the photo link: that “Diamonds Are Forever” is playing at the Woods (in fact I almost hyperventilated when I saw it). That was where I first saw “Diamonds” with my dad around Christmas of ‘71—an event that kick-started my life-long obsession with all things 007. Also saw “Live and Let Die” and “Man With The Golden Gun” there on their first runs, as well as a re-release double feature of “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice.” Sorry to prattle on about the Woods on the United Artists page—but I remember that all these Loop theaters were unavoidably linked out of sheer proximity!

mike52ad on November 24, 2009 at 5:03 am

I worked at the UA from May of 1968 to around July of 1970,eventually becoming the head usher or “Chief of Service.” Most of the ushers back then were paid 95 sents an hour, as chief I was paid about 1.25 per hour. The people in the projection booth, a union job, were paid $25 per hour and the theater had a union “stage hand” whose salary I don’t really know, but I knew their job was to open and close the curtain and turn the house lights on and off, the rest of the time was his own. The popcorn wasn’t really inventoried, as it cost probably less than a dollar to make a bag three feet high and around 15 inches across. But popcorn cups and soda cups were counted. I remember afternoons in the basement counting hotdogs and writing how many were in each box. Some of the hot dogs I counted in 1970 were probably there when the UA was torn down – they used to keep recycling those dogs until they were all wrinkled and dry! But the work was easy, the hardest job being taking the film canisters up three stories to the booth…you didn’t think those union men would do that now did you? It was a great time and my movie pass got me into to see a lot of flicks for free. The UA was the best theatre downtown, the seat rows were set farther apart and the place was more comfortable. Too bad it got tore down. I guess they knew what they were doing when the the downtown theatres led a petition drive to ban cable – which they called “pay TV” becasue it would put them out of business. Guess they were right!

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on October 30, 2009 at 3:44 am

I have a very fond memory of the United Artitsts Theatre. Back in the summer of 1980 I was watching Channel 2 news and Gene Siskel was doing a report on the cult classic I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Both he and Roger Ebert were labeling the movie as the worst movie of all time. Mr. Siskel was so incensed by the movie that he took a camera crew to the United Artists Theatre and stood outside the box-office and tried to talk patrons out of going inside. Of course, they didn’t listen to him. Later, Gene took his case to a Plitt Theatre executive and this particular executive agreed to pull the film out of the United Artists “in the best of the public interest.” What a crusader!

vicboda on October 5, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I think this was my favorite of the Loop theaters. It was really beautiful and somehow felt a little smaller than the rest. A real jewel.

KenC on September 25, 2009 at 5:09 am

From the Chicago Tribune movie directory on Monday, Oct.12, 1959: Premiere of the Year- TODAY-9 a.m. (Columbus Day) Last Feature 11:30 p.m. Come On, Everybody! They’re Here IN PERSON! ROCK HUDSON TONY RANDALL THELMA RITTER Appearing Opening Day Only on Stage Four Shows 11:15a.m. 1:45p.m. 6:15p.m. 8:40p.m. (The movie is “PILLOW TALK”).

DavidZornig on June 17, 2009 at 3:09 am

Great post KenC. I mentioned over on the Surf/Playboy/Chelex/Sandburg Theatre page, that some “North By Northwest” scenes were shot at the Ambassador East Hotel. And a famous still of Cary Grant peeking around an alley wall, was shot across the street almost to Astor. Behind the building at the S/W corner of Astor & Goethe.
Someone else had posted that Grant himself was at the grand opening of the Walgreen’s that replaced the Sandburg Theatre in the early `80’s.

KenC on June 17, 2009 at 2:58 am

A clever and unique way to advertise a new film: from the Chicago Sun Times movie listings on Sunday, June 21, 1959. The world premiere all America wanted… (and Chicago has it for the United Artists Theatre July 1) “We’ll never tell what happens to Cary Grant, but we’ll not keep your secret, Mr. Hitchcock! We know every city in the country beseiged M-G-M Studios for the world premiere of your motion picture, ‘North By Northwest.’ We know that making ‘North By Northwest’ has been your secret ambition for many years. We know that you actually filmed many of its scenes right here in Chicago. And we know that this not only is your best picture, but Hollywood’s biggest; a multi-million dollar suspense-drama that has never been rivalled in screen excitement. So you see, we have special right to be proud that Chicago was your choice- that you chose our city and our United Artists Theatre for the world premiere July 1. Most of all, we want everyone to know that you personally will be here with Miss Eva Marie Saint to appear at our world premiere celebration opening night.” – Balaban & Katz

JRS40 on June 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Yes if you look at the other Loop palaces where I list the bookings you will find MANY re-releases through the years. WOODSTOCK and 2001 are just two that played many times through the years after their initial releases.

DavidZornig on May 24, 2009 at 8:35 pm

FYI. JRS40 posted a list on 05/02/07, of films that played at the United Artist’s from 1964-1980. “West Side Story” appears to have played there on/week of 10/13/71. Albeit 10 years after it’s original release.

Another milestone I just noticed is, that the golden voice of The Turtle’s Howard Kaylan apparently graced the UA screen twice. In the theme song to “Guide For The Married Man” in 1967, and as an actor in Zappa’s film “200 Motels”. Now there is an odd distinction befitting his humor.

MPol on May 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Love those photos! Thanks for posting them, Lost Memory.

btw—did the great, golden oldie-but-goody movie/musical classic “West Side Story” ever play at this theatre at any time? Just curious.

DavidZornig on April 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm

In KenMc’s 04/11/09 post of the 1972 picture, “Diamonds Are Forever” is playing at the Woods down the street.

Me and a buddy saw that there multiple times. Jill St. John, Lana Wood, & a lengthy car chase through “old” Vegas with a Mustang ending up escaping on two wheels. A young man’s dreams fulfilled on a daily basis.

JRS40 on April 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Ken, the photo you have linked is from 1972 as the picture playing is CABARET. If you look at my list of bookings above you will see it opened in Feb that year and played until May. Great photo and thanks for sharing.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Nice! With even the old Bismarck sign way down the street. And the rear of a mid `60’s Rambler tooling along. Thanks for posting.

Oh, and “Reactivate Notification Status”.

kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 8:11 pm

This photo circa late sixties or early seventies is for sale on eBay:

DavidZornig on February 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Great pic. It shows the giant ABC logo that replaced the Balaban & Katz neon in the photo at the top of this page.

Nice Toronado in the traffic too. A year or two later they had an optional funky, wrap-around rear window. Which today would cost more than the car to replace.

DavidZornig on December 19, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Greetings. I had thought the same thing too. But a friend of mine reminded me of how massive the entrance to the United Artists Theatre was.
It’s multiple glass doors spanned a good distance East, even though it was located on the West corner of that block. It’s possible there was one or two storefronts between it and Flo’s, but not much more than that.

I remember the swing girl had her own set of spotlights isolated on her alcove. Wireless technology was pretty scarce back then, if available at all. So any corded mic would seem cumbersome for someone swinging out over the sidewalk. Presumably needing both hands. Otherwise she’d start going sideways.
As with the old Vaudeville folks, she probably just projected her voice really well. The movement is all that was necessary to capture attention.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Seems to me Flo’s was a little closer to State Street and not right next to the United Artists? I think the women on the swing had a microphone and would talk to the folks down on Randolph Street. Seems like I recall her saying something like “Come to Flo’s, Fabulous Flo’s”, as she swung on the swing, anyone remember that? Years later it seemed like a bookstore and Burger King got located in those buildings before everyting got torn down, including the United Artists.