A funky look at 1970s Chicago--and Pam Grier

November 28, 2011

Pam Grier's 1975 movie Sheba, Baby features her as a private detective--and a mighty good-looking one, at that--who heads to Louisville to straighten out the thugs who'd been hassling her father.

Despite seeing the movie a few times over the years, I never noticed until now that the title sequence for the movie was filmed in Chicago. With Barbara Mason singing the theme, we see some pretty good shots of mid-1970s downtown and Michigan Avenue. The clip opens with the new Standard Oil Building (now Aon Center) peeking out like a giraffe in tallgass over a skyline that looks puny compared to today's assembly of buildings. Lake Point Tower and the John Hancock Building are also visible.

The Wrigley Building shows up at the :10 mark, but a pan reveals the squat old Sun-Times Building at a time when the Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News names were atop the building. A GM New Look CTA Bus swings around the corner at :13 and behind it you can see the Wacker Drive extension under construction.

The scene shifts to North Michigan Avenue. To the right, you can catch a glimpse of the blue sign of the old Water Tower Hyatt Hotel, designed by Hausner & Macsai. The building was demolished to make way for the current Park Hyatt Hotel. But the best part is Grier herself strolling down Michigan Avenue in a denim suit--even if she does suddenly end up at Lake and Wells and catching the EL to the Merchandise Mart--only a few blocks away.

So what's the rest of the movie like? The scenery diminishes once the action swtiches to Louisville shortly after the credits. But the movie is kind of fun: