Essanay Studios

Essanay Studios information

Chicago , USA
Address
Street 1333-1345 W Argyle St
Getting there
metro Red Line to Argyle
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Lonely Planet review

Back before the talkies made silent film obsolete, Chicago reigned supreme as the number one producer of movie magic in the USA. Essanay churned out silent films with soon-to-be household names like WC Fields and Charlie Chaplin. Filming took place at the big studio that was here. Essanay’s terra-cotta Indian head logo remains above the door at 1345 Argyle.

These days, the building belongs to a local college. Essanay folded in 1917, about the time that many of its actors were being lured to the bright lights of a still-nascent Hollywood. If you see any of the early Essanay films, you'll notice local children performing unintentional cameos, and bits of familiar neighborhoods poking into the edge of 'Caifornia' mesas. It was an era when editing took a back seat to getting the product out the door and into theaters.