In Old Chicago (1937)

In Old Chicago (1937)

In Old Chicago




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

In Old Chicago Videos & Photos

Movie Info

In Old Chicago was 20th Century-Fox's spin on MGM's San Francisco--a personal saga played out against the backdrop of a famous 19th Century disaster. Alice Brady plays Mrs. O'Leary, a widow who brings her two young boys to the sleepy village of Chicago. As the city grows in prominence and prestige, so do the boys: One son (Tyrone Power) becomes a rascal who dreams of creating his own entertainment empire, while the other son (Don Ameche) matures into an honest, straight-laced lawyer. Both boys … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Niven Busch & Sonya Levien, Niven Busch, Sonya Levien, Lamar Trotti
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 9, 2005
20th Century Fox Film Corporation

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as Dion O'Leary

as Belle Fawcett

as Jack O'Leary

as Molly O'Leary

as Pickle Bixby

as Gil Warren

as Ann Colby

as Bob O'Leary

as Gen. Phil Sheridan

as Sen. Colby

as Gretchen O'Leary

as Mitch

as Specialty Singer

as Patrick O'Leary

as Dion as a Boy

as Bob as a Boy

as Jack as a Boy

as Rondo, Bodyguard

as Carrie Donahue

as Miss Lou

as Fire Commissioner

as Driver

as Man in Jack's Office

as Man in Jack's Office

as Judge

as Ship's Captain

as Police Officer

as Police Officer

as Specialty

as Johnson, Secretary

as Witness

as Wagon Driver

as Frantic Mother

as Beef Baron

as Booking Agent
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for In Old Chicago

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

As a film entertainment it is socko.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

With a star-filled cast and a fitful sense of drama, it's pretty much the same old recipe as the equivalent cycle of megabudget '70s exploiters, but the climactic conflagration is certainly worth the wait.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. King's direction, occasionally, is inspired, and the photography has unusual style and dramatic impact.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Under Henry King's direction there is little of the old Fox pep.

Full Review… | August 9, 2005
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Chicago makes up in atmosphere and color what it lacks in historical accuracy.

Full Review… | January 31, 2012
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Zanuck's disaster film, part of cycle that includes Ford's superior Hurricane, is not as entertaining as MGM's San Francisco, but the set-pieces of crowds, riots, and cattle stampedes during the fire are impressive.

Full Review… | March 6, 2008

Audience Reviews for In Old Chicago

This film feels somewhat lost among the Hollywood gems of the thirties, though it was nominated for several Academy Awards, and lent to one of the biggest mysteries concerning Alice Brady's Oscar trophy. The story revolves around the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. There is a large myth that purports that a cow in Mrs. O'Leary's barn set it off a fire, destroying most of the town. In this story Mrs. O'Leary is a widow with three sons living in Chicago. She works night and day as a washer woman to support Jack, a lawyer, Dion, a gambler, and Bob, a newlywed. Most of the plot follows the story of Jack and Dion, played by the wildly popular Don Ameche and Tyrone Power. Before we even get to the tragedy aspect of the film, the first hour or so follows Dion's rise to power in The Patch, the crime riddled section of Chicago, filled with gambling, alcohol, and loose women. Dion falls for and manipulates Belle Fawcett, a performer who sets up a new club with him to the disdain of her former boss, Gil Warren. The romance between Dion and Belle is abusive at best, many scenes showing him pinning her down, catching her before she can run away, and ambushing her several times while she and her maid scream for the police. Of course, in thirties fashion, she sees his roguish charm and falls in love with him. Weaving through are the politics of the mayoral race, in which Jack is a candidate against Gil Warren. This leads to a bout of conflict between the two brothers, one trying to clean up the city, the other trying to make a quick buck. Then, after Dion tricks both Jack and Belle, the barn is set aflame, and we get to watch some really amazing special effects for the time period. There is so much illness, and depression as we watch people get stampeded, families split apart, and others dying young in the flames. This film doesn't hold back, or play out to any cliches when it comes to the ensuing action, making it both a character study of the disenfranchised O'Leary clan, and particularly Dion, the man without ethics who everyone keeps giving the benefit of the doubt. A strong film from a strong era of moviemaking.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Sure it's an epic historical movie, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring! Good actors, but the movie could have been a lot better.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

The story of a cow and all the problems it caused by burning down a major city. This was an early attempt to create a disaster film and there simply wasn't the technology available to make a decent go of it.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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