The city that was: Short film shows 1970s Chicago

September 30, 2013

Here's a fun look at Chicago in the 1970s: a 16mm film depicting a day in the life of our fair city.

Chicago Breakdown by Gary Brown looks as if it was made around 1976, judging by a glimpse of an Bicentennial license plate on one of the cars. You'll also see legendary radio jock Larry Lujack at WCFL-AM, where he was on air from 1972 to 1976.

Breakdown begins a little slow with sunrise shots and a quiet country music score, but things pick up. I like when a worker, concluding a night shift, climbs into his Cadillac Coupe De Ville and shifts into gear as the Ohio Players' Love Rollercoaster comes on the car radio.

The 14 minute film features good aerial footage of the John Hancock Building and Lake Point Tower. The sped-up point of view footage taken from inside an 'L' car and along Lake Shore Drive and timed to match the musical "breakdown" hinted at in the title is also nice. We also see Wrigley Field fan yelling to get Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal's autograph and darkened interior of the University of Chicago. A Playboy magazine shoot is briefly shown, so a word of caution there for sensitive readers.

The movie comes courtesy of the Chicago Film Archives,