Michael Mann’s Public Enemies Shooting in Chicago


(photo of Public Enemies clapperboard)

Public Enemies, Michael Mann’s upcoming film about Chicago gangsters in the 1930s, began filming in Lincoln Park today. This involved restoring the Biograph Theatre, where John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp in the movie) was killed, to its 1934 appearance. Here are a few photos that I took before the cops moved everyone off the sidewalk to start filming (click on the photos below to see the full size version):

Mann himself (or at least I’m 99% sure it is) shortly before the cops chased the public away.

The restored theatre facade, with marquee showing
Manhattan Melodrama
as the current film.

A slightly different angle a few minutes later, after the air conditioning banner has been added. Notice also the old-fashioned telephone booths being installed on the left.

Actually, most of the block got a facelift. The facades of the three buildings to the right are completely artificial. The “Food Store” in actuality is a Qdoba. The building on the far right is being used for extras holding.

Lots of storefront windows like this all along Lincoln Avenue. It wasn’t just a matter of changing the items in the displays to older stuff, either. Most of the stores are actually restaurants, so the displays themselves had to be built.

Lots of vintage signs were added, too.

Of course, no urban period movie would be complete without a fleet of vintage automobiles.

I honestly thought this was Christian Bale, who plays Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who led the manhunt for Dillinger. Even now I think this guy looks like a dead ringer for Bale in profile. But it’s just some extra, or perhaps a stand-in.


19 responses »

  1. Nice. That is a hell of a lot of work that goes into those films.

    This involved restoring the Biograph Theatre, where John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp in the movie) was killed,


    I’m joking, of course.

    I honestly thought this was Christian Bale… But it’s just some extra, or perhaps a stand-in.

    You know, it probably was Bale. The man is a master of disguise, after all. The guy even pretended to have an American accent when doing press for Batman Begins, just to not confuse anyone. You may have been duped by the production manager or make-up. Who would suspect?

  2. Great pics…thanks for the post-
    If you get close enough to get pics while they’re filming, (if the cops don’t chase you off) would love to see one of Dante Spinotti in action…
    Was at the shoot watching Scorsese film The Departed…(we could actually stand directly behind the tent Scorsese was in and the video playback tent…guess Mann doesn’t like on-lookers) and the most amazing thing was watching Scorsese and Michael Ballhaus set up one of the shots of them playing Rugby on Boston Common…to see them collaborating was amazing…

  3. Great pics! I can confirm that is Michael Mann. Also in pic #9 that is not Bale. He is an extra. I stood next to that guy all night last night. Really nice guy but not who you think.

  4. Nope…not Bale. But not too far off. The stand-in they were using in Madison looked strikingly similar to the man himself, much more than this guy.

    Great shots of the theatre…..wish I could just follow this production around…..

  5. To be clear, I do know that the picture is NOT Bale. Shortly after Jeanine snapped that shot, the guy turned around and actually doesn’t look much like Bale at all from straight on. I just initially thought it was Bale as he walked by, because I saw him from the side.

  6. To be clearer, I never thought it was Bale but took a picture for Brian’s sake. I figured they wouldn’t have paraded Bale in with a bunch of other extras, and I think everyone else around us would have noticed and would have been screaming/drooling, etc.

  7. so not Bale. It’s actually my brother; his name is Luke. usually he gets the “Richard Gere look-alike,” so i think the Bale comparison is a welcome change. even if it was only in profile.

  8. Man…between A Bittersweet Life last night and now this trailer…pray the movie gods aren’t making a joke on me, but from what it seems in that trailer, the artist is back! The framing, the lighting, I’ll have to go back and change my open letter to Mr. Mann, but he listened! He read my letter and he took it to heart! (Come on…give me my delusions right now, pelase) From this preview it seems the overly-Greengrassed handheld is gone and the artistry of the mise-en-scene has seemingly returned as Mr. Spinotti has maybe added a touch of what he used to bring to all Mr. Mann’s films…

    Just one thing, though, and I may be wrong…without looking at IMDB, I’m gonna say this was shot on the Viper cameras Mr. Mann used for Collateral, Miami Vice, etc.
    If not Vipers, then some other type of digital camera.
    In the heavy action scenes, the stink of video is all over this one.
    And while it looks amazing, just wonder why a man of Mr. Mann’s stature would not spend that bit extra and give a movie like this the look of film.

  9. It’s been a good week for trailers between this, Terminator (which really blew me away) and Star Trek.

  10. Finally saw the trailer on the big screen for the first time last night (had watched it online once before), and I see what filmman was talking about re: the video look. I hadn’t noticed it during the tiny Apple viewing but I think he’s right. This doesn’t look like it was shot on film, at least during some scenes.

  11. Yup. Any scene with movement in it…it was pretty shockingly apparent.
    It’s shot on the cinealta f23, the same family of camera they used for Cloverfield.
    No one would dispute Cloverfield looked like it was shot on video because it was SUPPOSED to look like it was shot on video, yeah?

    If you watch Zodiac, yeah? I think we would all agree that that movie comes as close to the look of film as anything that’s ever been put to video…I think we could make that case in an argument.
    Zodiac used the Viper Filmstream cameras.
    As did Superman Returns, which hid the video well, but not as good as Zodiac did.

    My question is: Why wouldn’t a DP the stature of Dante Spinotti use a better camera? Did they not do tests of each camera?
    For sure, the Filmstream has a tendency to give a pastely-look to the colors, but Zodiac was able to wash that shit out enough, and give a compelling product.

    I am considering changing my open letter to Michael Mann and asking anyone from the production with knowledge of the decision process to please shed some light on this decision, because it seems strange to me.

    And even more-to-the-point:
    The below-the-line costs on a movie like this are negligible against the star salaries; is Mr. Mann so caught up on digital video that he’s willing to drag Mr. Spinotti into that, also?

    You can make the case with Collateral that the video look fit, that he wanted to give the movie the look of us following these guys around the city of lights with a camera, and yeah…LA looked cool in digital video, but, really, a movie like this?

    Just sayin’…

  12. Apocalypto was shot on the Panavision Genesis.

    Even that, in many parts of the film, with a lot of motion, masked the video pretty well. By the look of the Public Enemies trailer, a lot better than it managed to do.

    Just throwin’ it out there.

  13. Don’t know his motivation, but while the trailer is curious and slightly disappointing in that regard, I’ll wait to see the finished film before making any judgments. I thought Collateral and even Miami Vice looked terrific, so I’m happy to give the benefit of the doubt.

  14. I thought Collateral and even Miami Vice looked terrific

    Oh. Wow.

    Like I said, I could make a case for Collateral looking great in the context in which it was shot, but…hm.

  15. I dug the look of both films as well. I’m not a guy that shoots movies though, so I’ve got a different perspective.

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