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In Old Chicago [DVD] [1937]
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Made in 1937 as a riposte to MGM's groundbreaking disaster movie "San Francisco" (based on the great earthquake) "In Old Chicago" took 22 months to shoot and includes a staggering reconstruction of the great fire.

Two feuding brothers are at the heart of the film, manipulative Dion O'Leary (Tyrone Power) who exploits the shady side of Chicago for fame and fortune, and Jack O'Leary a hard but caring lawyer with a conscience who becomes a reforming mayor. There is also a good family background with their tough mother Molly (Alice Brady)

Also there is a tempestuous love affair between Dion and Belle Fawcette (Alice Faye) a famous vaudeville singer; this film shows a welcome tougher side to the adorable Alice Faye particularly in the scene where she throws jars and vases at Dion and he wrestles her to the ground.

Great direction by Henry King and fine acting all round in this epic production presented in a pristine transfer and excellent sound, wonderful example of what could be achieved in the mid thirties.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 30 August 2011
1937:Huge budget from producer Darryl Zanuck and Fox. Comparisons with disaster epics such as MGM's 'San Francisco' (1936) and Sam Goldwyn's idea with 'Hurricane' (1937), are fair but this film deserves to be judged on it's own merits. Admittedly Zanuck wanted Clark Gable (unavailable) and Jean Harlow, who tragically died from kidney failure, as leads, but circumstances dealt him Tyrone Power and Alice Faye. Tyrone was as nervous as Alice who had groomed Tyrone despite her own known anxieties and self-confidence problems. Alice reluctantly had to screen test, the shortest I am aware of (her words were "Get Out" to Tyrone Power). Pass!

Tyrone's part eventually saw him as the handsome rogue brother of Don Ameche. Alice Faye was quoted as saying of leads "All they did was change Don (Ameche) over here and Ty (Power) over there". Playing with friends and an understanding director, Henry King, the film became a huge success. It required a dramatic role for Alice. Her singing prowess was never in question.

Political rivalry between brothers Tyrone Power (Dion) as a likeable scoundrel and brother Don Ameche (Jack O'Leary) as good guy is the basis of the plot. Alice Faye is introduced as Belle Fawcett, a saloon singer who adds to the love friction between the brothers (and their mother) and financial interests of the excellent and devious Brian Donlevy.

Arriving as Irish immigrants to America, the boys did well under mother Molly O'Leary (Alice Brady) who set up her own domestic business before the growth and ambitions of her sons. After political intriguery and romance between Alice and Tyrone (forced but consensual!) the clashes between the brothers head to a climax. This leads to the famous cow and lantern kick over and the fire of Chicago. The scenes are spectacular with period details well attended to. The poignancy of the survivors hopefully seeking lives of their loved ones is touching and memorable. O'Leary family problems are resolved, one way or another. The special effects lend themselves to atmospheric climactic moments with the audience holding their breath as search for friends and family increase in anxiety and intensity.

Of course,as a saloon singer, Alice Faye provides musical interest. 'How Many Miles Back To London Town', 'I've Taken A Fancy To You', 'In Old Chicago', 'Carry Me Back To Old Virginny' are added to the lovely jig, 'The Irish Washerwoman'. Alice Brady took a supporting Oscar award. Monumental film. Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the fictional story of the O'Leary family and the birth of the Great Fire of Chicago.

Big budget, big stars and a completely big production, In Old Chicago may be deemed as a Zanuck cash in on the previous years MGM eye opener, San Francisco, it is however a wonderful picture that features two differing halves of worth. Casting aside historical accuracy (lets really not go down that road in cinema history), this Henry King directed piece firstly engages us as a jaunty family character piece, only to then pull the rug from underneath us to let in political intrigue, deception, down right ugliness and a near $2 million fire besieged Chicago!

Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Alice Faye, Alice Brady (Best Supporting Actress Academy Award) and Brian Donlevy all line up to entertain the viewers, all possibly aware that they are merely the starter course for the extravagant main course that will be the 20 minute final reel of panic and burning disaster. Yet to focus merely on the fire itself, and the effects that some 70 years later still impact smartly, is to do the first half a disservice, characters are formed and the story is fully fleshed to make the wait for the fire completely worth our time. It's no history lesson for sure but the devilment of some characters, and the ineptitude of some others, more than make this an essential watch for fans of 30s cinema. 7.5/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
After years of being only available in a cut 94-minute version, Fox released both that and the original uncut 110-minute roadshow version on their Region 1 NTSC DVD, but sadly they've only seen fit to include the shorter version on their UK Region 2 DVD.

It has to be said that in its uncut version, In Old Chicago plays like an even more obvious ripoff of San Francisco, merely substituting Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Alice Faye and the Chicago fire for Clark Gable, Spencer Tracey, Jeanette MacDonald and the San Francisco earthquake and adding more twee Oirish antics than are healthy. The musical numbers are a step down too, particularly Faye's rendition of Carry Me Back to Old Virginny complete with `massa' lyrics, and the finale isn't as grand on screen as it is in your memory: the scenes of the crowds of refugees on the banks tend to be far more effective than the backlot chaos. Still, any film that features Rondo Hatton can't be all bad, but it's easy to see why Zanuck ordered the film trimmed. However, it's worth picking up the US NTSC disc to give you the chance to make up your own mind as to which is the better version.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2009
I love this film, but the acting is a bit wobbly, the plot is cheesy, and even the cinematography is shaky. If your a big fan of Don Ameche (like me!), Tyrone Power or Alice Faye, then you need this blockbuster in your collection. The film markets itself as an answer to cinema's San Francisco, but like that film the disaster plays a small part in the overall picture. It's a pleasant, frivolous movie for a rainy afternoon.
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on 21 March 2014
I have a feeling that this copy of the film has been cut in places, and shouldn't have been. I could be wrong, but it certainly seems shorter than when I saw it the first time round. It should be worth five stars, but my doubt stops me from giving it the five.
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on 14 November 2013
Superb performances from all involved, especially a cameo from Rondo Hatton {who looks a lot smaller than I thought!!} A great story well told and the effects are superb!!
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on 12 March 2013
A great film with a good storyline and ending. I enjoyed sitting and watching this film and would recommend it to any musical fans.
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on 18 May 2015
Again, a first class used DVD. Really excellent value. Really enjoyed this great film
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on 11 June 2015
this dvd had not a lot of songs in it.
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