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Bridgeport in the Movies: Coffee House Makes a Cameo

By Casey Cora | December 12, 2013 7:34am
 A film crew turned the Bridgeport Coffee house into a toy store for the filming of a scene.
Bridgeport in the Movies
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BRIDGEPORT — A popular local hangout briefly served as a backdrop for the NBC show “Chicago PD" earlier this week, when film crews transformed the cozy coffee house into a toy store and used the shop's baristas as extras.

“Cast and crew bought a LOT of coffee. And also hired some of our baristas as extras for another scene off-site. … If there are Emmy nominations for Best Coffeeshop Masquerading As a Toy Store, it's totally a lock for us,” the Bridgeport Coffee store said on its blog.

The filming, which took place Tuesday at the store, 3101 S. Morgan St., is far from the first time Hollywood has paid a visit to the city’s oldest neighborhood.

Just last month, film crews overtook a gas station at nearby 31st and Halsted streets, where Chicago Police Department Sgt. John Falino was teaching actors the ins and outs of city police work during the filming of the USA network's TV series “Sirens.”

Prior to that, crews with "Transformers 4: Age of Extinction" turned the abandoned grain silos at the Stevenson Expressway and Damen Avenue into a movie set, setting off thunderous explosions earlier this fall. (OK, that’s technically in Pilsen, but the crazy-loud pyrotechnics could be heard from all corners of the South Side.)

And in 2011, the TV political drama "Boss" featured scenes from the peak of Henry Palmisano Park, otherwise known as "Mount Bridgeport," and at the nearby quarry.

Going way back to the black-and-white era, Jimmy Stewart, posing as intrepid reporter P.J. McNeal, stalked the old police station at 35th Street and Lowe Avenue — right near the home of Mayor Richard J. Daley — for his role in "Call Northside 777."

But perhaps Bridgeport's biggest close-up was in the 1991 John Hughes flick “Only the Lonely," which famously featured shots of the old Comiskey Park and overviews of the 3300 block of South Morgan Street, including a corner building that served as one of the movie's main backdrops.

The longtime landlord of that building, who declined to give his name because he "don't want the notoriety," recalled that it was fun "watching the actors act and all that.

"We had one tenant, she was always 'Oh, John Candy, I love you!' so they put her in the movie. She was on the stoop," he said, gesturing to the front of the 129-year-old building.

The same stretch of Morgan Street would be featured in the 1991 TV series called "Gabriel's Fire," starring James Earl Jones as a former Chicago cop wrongfully convicted of murdering his partner.

And the interior of a Morgan Street business on the block, the acclaimed Polo Cafe at 3322 S. Morgan St. served as the backdrop for scenes in a 1997 Laurence Fishburne gangster pic, "Hoodlum."

The landlord of the apartments, who said he's owned the building since 1970, said Hollywood's approach to the neighborhood has always been the same, at least when it comes to designing their on-location shoots.

"They fix it up. They f--- it up. And they put it back again," he said.