Commodore Theatre

3105 W. Irving Park Road,
Chicago, IL 60618

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atomchicago on April 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm

My Father went to this theater when he was a kid and so did I! When I drove past it one day on the way to work it was in the process of being demolished. I just had to save what i could so i paid to have the terracotta removed block by block and passed down to me by rope! I shuttled van loads to a nearby garage i rented, then cleaned every block of the mortar and bricks attached still. After two more moves i still have the facade safely stored waiting for a new project they can be used on and once again enjoyed!

Brian Lee


PRIMO2000 on April 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Seen all the Bruce Lee movies there, does anybody remember Spike, the owner in the early 70’s, my uncle Joe use to clean the show and I would usher telling people to keep their feet off the chairs, lol, if you saw a black Cadillac and black lincoln in the front of the show let me know, brings back lots of memories.

Broan on April 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Broan on January 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

Here is a THSA picture of the Commodore.

KevinKillion on June 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Just posted this picture at WhatWasWhere. Go to this link, click Street View, and then use the slider to fade between this old view and what’s there now. I miss the Commodore, 15 cartoons and a feature on Saturday morning!!/ll/41.953983,-87.706035/id/55584/info/sv/zoom/14/

MikeZ on May 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I am SO excited to have found this page !!! From 1968-1972, I spent the equivalent of probably, months inside the Commodore. $1.00 got me in ALL day on Saturdays,and it’s where I first saw Easy Rider,Bonnie And Clyde,The St.Valentine’s Day Massacre,Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and so many more.

Cam on January 25, 2010 at 5:23 am

If you want an example of how the Internet is making the world a smaller place, here you go: a photo of the Commodore appears on cover of a CD by a Croation band, released on a Brazilian label. There’s a short review at: View link

Not sure whether or not it’s their official site, but there’s a page for the band (Florence Foster Fan Club) at

kencmcintyre on April 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Here is the theater in 1982, when it was the Cine Olympia:

BrianCB on February 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

In 1977, my father, brother and I saw a fanciful World War I action drama at the Commodore called SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, starring Lee Marvin and Roger Moore. At the time, the theater was showing Bollywood films late in the evening after the mainstream releases. I remember the crowd for the south Asian feature was much larger than the group who saw SHOUT AT THE DEVIL.

hagglund on August 2, 2008 at 11:36 pm

I used to go to the Commodore every Saturday morning with my friends, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I remember seeing “Gorgo” (kind of a giant lizard Godzilla ripoff) and a film that absolutely terrified me, “Black Sabbath”, aka “I Tre volti della paura”, a trilogy of really scary stories with Boris Karloff—which I believe was the inspiration for naming Ozzy Osbourne’s band. I think the balcony was still open at that time—you HAD to sit up there, because if you sat downstairs the kids in the balcony would throw jujubees in your hair or pour soda pop down on you. Saturdays, you could see a double-feature plus a string of old serials from the 1930’s (“The Claw”), a bunch of cartoons and get a box of popcorn all for a handful of change. We’d spend the whole morning there.

GFeret on December 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

SUPERMAN 2(1980) probably was the very last feature THE COMMODORE played, I venture to say. This because the poster for that film remained tacked-up to the doors for no less than a couple yrs after the theatre closed and abandoned.

Features I actually saw here I recall are TIDAL WAVE, DEADLY WEAPONS (w/Chesty Morgan), and THE EXORCIST.

Cam on January 29, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Hi Brebel —

I have just a couple photos of the Commodore, taken when demolition was just starting. They’re in Set #5, at

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 4, 2007 at 7:06 am

Call the Theatre Historical Society, on York Road in Elmhurst. They have quite a few photos from different eras of the Commodore’s life.

brebel on January 4, 2007 at 5:12 am

I grew up a few blocks away from the Commodore. i recently found a video tape I made while driving down Irving in the early 80’s. It was so dark out that I can barely recognize it.

I saw my first movie ther . It’s a mad mad mad world. It must have been well after it’s original relaease date.

I remember being way to young to have seen Godfather 2 in a theater. I never wanted to see it again.

They used to play Bruce Lee movies. A kid in the neighborhood on Sacramento used to sneak in a camera and film some of the scenes. He was always scared that Osco would bust him on developing the film. I don’t think he was worried about the copyright,as much as the obligitory “romantic scene” he captured that supplimented the Bruce Lee films.

My last memory of the theater is the year or two they ran Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Guts in 3-D

i wish I could see an old photo. So if any finds one, please direct us to where to see it.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 12, 2006 at 1:11 pm

When I was a kid in Chicago I spent a lot of time photographing the remaining neighborhood theatres, open or closed. This place did look like an eyesore at the end. Even as it sat abandoned, however, it retained an unmistakable dignity. The Commodore was once a popular community meeting place where people laughed, loved, and enjoyed precious family time with one another. I believe that is where the dignity came from. It is amazing how time marches on. New technology is amazing and should certainly be embraced. But in that embrace we have lost a sense of human togetherness that was once taken for granted.

jwarren on July 7, 2005 at 9:01 am

I know THS in Elmhurst, IL has a wonderful exterior photo of the Commodore shortly after its opening.
Best of luck!

rkm3612 on July 7, 2005 at 6:15 am

Thanks for the useful information. I am still hoping for a picture of the Commodore…the earlier the better!

jwarren on July 7, 2005 at 4:51 am

Actually the Commodore was far from plain. Fancy organ grilles, small performance stages ubder the organ chamber with golden lions flanking each side, plus a large dome in the auditorium. The operators always seemed to be moving the candy counter; at one time the counter was located in the store space next door and a cut-out in the wall was the access to the counter. Saw about 8 of the 13 chapters shown on consecutive Saturdays of “The Iron Claw”(1939) in the winter/spring of 1960 before the weather turned too nice to continue (for a 9 year old). Original operators were Seaver and Zahler who operated the Hedwig Theatre (storefront) one block west on Irving.

rkm3612 on May 17, 2005 at 8:09 pm

Hi Paul,
I went to Lane Tech in the mid 70’s and from that Neighborhood. I would like to get a photo (JPG or whatever..) of the Commodore Theater. I remember seeing a science fiction thriller with Adam West (Batman) when I was a kid at the Comodore.

TRAINPHOTOS on May 17, 2005 at 7:58 pm

Circa 1977 or 1978, the Commodore close “for renovations.” When it re-opened several months later, it was showing porno films in 3D! Yes 3D! I remember one of the films was “Capitol Hill Girls.” I was going to nearby Gordon High School at the time and would pass by everday on the bus. Too bad I was only a freshman or sophomore and was therefore too young to get in!

rkm3612 on February 7, 2005 at 2:58 pm

I lived at Troy and Cullom, three blocks away between 1966 and 1971. I disagree with Richard G. as I was ten years old and the interior had a mysterious architecture that was gothic and spooky. I think that it had a closed balcony. I watched some great scary double features. Too bad it couldn’t be saved!

markymark on July 3, 2004 at 10:02 am

I went to The Commodore in the mid-1970s to see “Return Of The Dragon” & “Enter The Dragon” with Bruce Lee.
I lived within walking distance of it,as well as the famous “Riverview” park!

richardg on December 11, 2003 at 6:30 pm

The Commodore was a vey plain theatre. They used to sell an extra small box of popcorn for 5 cents. This was its best “feature”