One fun thing you can do when working from home is put movies on in the background while half-staring at your work computer from the comfort of your couch. This is the perfect scenario to revisit lightly plotted, endlessly entertaining fare like Kill Bill, Before Sunrise, or Ocean’s Eleven. I threw on all three of these, among others, during a week spent working remotely a few months ago, and exactly one of those is the focus of this here article, which is the second in our new series about famous (or not especially famous) filming locations in and around Chicago.
Have you watched Oceans Eleven lately? It’s very good. You get to watch an ensemble of affable actors smirk their way through a heist so meticulous but also laid back that it had to be a Soderbergh joint. Matt Damon plays a bad boy named Linus who makes his living stealing people’s wallets on Brown Line trains around the Harold Washington Library State and Van Buren stop in the Loop. George Clooney’s character (I think his name is “George Clooney”) invites him to have a quick drink at Emmit’s Irish Pub, a slice of Near North Side dive excellence that has been involved in a handful of Hollywood productions, to talk about maybe getting involved in an exciting new project. Then they fly back to Las Vegas, which is where the majority of the movie takes place. Not exactly a love letter to our nice city, but it’ll do for our purposes.
The space that houses Emmit’s has been a bar since the 1930s, the space has gone through a handful of names and incarnations, perhaps most notably O’Sullivans, a cop bar with a bad reputation for “Dwarf Tossing” competitions, an unsavory practice which is, unfortunately, exactly what it sounds like. Emmit’s came to fruition in the Mid 90s (in theaters now), when a couple of firefighters purchased the property. During all that time, it has also been used for scenes in similarly rewatchable flicks like Uncle Buck and Backdraft, as well as less acclaimed fare like the Shia LaBeouf-starring paranoid thriller Eagle Eye and U.S. Marshalls, a movie that is perhaps the perfect film to be aired on the USA network at 2 p.m. on a Sunday as your grandfather nods off in his big easy chair.
Emmit’s is no stranger to the small screen, either, having been featured in shows like Early Edition (the proto-God Friended Me, set in a time and place where we weren’t constantly staring at SCREENS, getting our secret information instead from NEWSPAPERS delivered by MAGIC CATS) and the short lived 2009 Patrick Swayze vehicle The Beast, which aired for 13 episodes on A&E in 2009. Is Emmit’s in the below trailer for The Beast? Hard to say, due to the rapid-fire editing and extremely low lit scenes, but I think that might be the spot about 59 seconds in? Either way, solid bar, cool that it’s in a lot of stuff, shame about the dwarf tossing.