In Old Chicago - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In Old Chicago Reviews

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November 13, 2015
Fairly boring. Some of the setups for conflict were nice, though.
½ May 16, 2015
Starring Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Don Ameche. This is 20th Century Fox's rip-off of MGM's vastly superior 1936 disaster melodrama "San Francisco". This film does have its moments, including the impressively staged recreation of the 1871 Chicago fire, but overall it's just average. Alice Brady picked up an Oscar playing Mrs. O'Leary, whose cow, according to legend, kicked over a gas lantern that started the blaze. Directed by Henry King.
February 8, 2015
20th-Century-Fox's response to MGM's SAN FRANCISCO is a musical drama that ends in spectacular fashion with the Chicago Fire of 1871; Alice Brady won an Oscar playing against type.
½ March 22, 2014
fox's answer to MGM's hugely successful 'san francisco' this time about the cow and fire in chitown
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2013
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.
September 19, 2013
The BEST film I ever seen in my black and white movie collection.
July 27, 2013
A fighting, laughing, aggressive, American city.

Dion O'Leary is a devious playboy with a hot girlfriend and free reign over 1867 Chicago. His brother, Jack O'Leary is a politician held in high regard in Chicago. Dion pulls some cards and helps Jack become mayor of the city; however, once Jack is in the big chair, he may not be able to allow his brother to have free reign over the city.

"You're mayor but I'm Chicago. Don't make me kick you out."

Henry King, director of Twelve O'Clock High, The Song of Bernadette, The Carousel, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tender is the Night, The Earth is Mine, and The Sun also Rises, delivers In Old Chicago. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and contains fantastic characters. I adored the character development and how the story unfolds. The cast is magnificent and includes Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Andy Devine, and Brian Donlevy.

"Where is he going, anyway?"
"Where are any of us going?"

I DVR'd this picture because it stars one of my favorite actors, Tyrone Power. The film is fairly interesting and contains a unique storyline and depiction of Chicago. The film comes together wonderfully and the ultimate conclusion is climatic and a nice depiction of the city. This definitely isn't the best Tyrone Power movie but it is a good one.

"She's pretty...in a way."

Grade: B
½ July 10, 2013
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.
February 6, 2013
The 20 minute fire sequence is remarkable considering it was made in the 1930s. Tyrone Power is a stunning lead, alongside Alice Faye and Don Ameche there is one solid cast here. Pure entertainment, I didn't watch it thinking it would be historically accurate or informing.
½ October 15, 2012
The fire is spectacular but other than that this is a poor attempt at an epic.
October 3, 2012
very boring, but If you like the historical portion the may be quite entertained.
½ November 29, 2011
In spite of practically advertising their close work with the Chicago Historical Society in the making of this film, "In Old Chicago" is nothing more than boring fiction with a cool fire at the end. I understand that you have to spend time developing the characters so that you will be rooting for them during the disaster sequence, but they could have at least used the real people involved in the Great Chicago Fire instead of completely making up people that they thought would be more interesting. No actor is bad but most are "just okay." The exception to the rule is Alice Faye, particularly in her musical numbers. I also enjoyed seeing Andy Devine (the voice of Friar Tuck in Disney's Robin Hood), simply because I wondered where this voice came from! Unfortunately, I just didn't fall in love with the characters and spent the whole time waiting for the fire. The special effects were impressive as the town went up in flame, but the boring-to-fireball ratio was simply out of proportion.
½ November 28, 2011
Here is one of the first disaster films, and my favorite parts were Alice Faye's musical numbers. The story of the two brothers fighting over Chicago is ludicrous, but fun; and The Great Chicago Fire sequence at the end is pretty incredible for the late 30s. Looks and feels more real than all the CG trash Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay are putting out today. Tyrone Power is great as Dion O'Leary, a guy we love and hate in equal measure.
Super Reviewer
October 9, 2011
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.
½ August 18, 2011
Impressive. In my opinion, this movie could really be the "Gone With the Wind" of 1937. The '30's was full of disaster movies, and this and "San Francisco" are probably the best recognized. Set in the 1870's, I actually was impressed by 20th Century Fox's work for this flick. Despite the weak script (I don't think it should have gotten nominated for an Academy Award), this movie is very well- done. They picked actors that would soon become big stars as well as legends today, like Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Alice Faye (up there with Betty Grable), and Alice Brady, who is now mostly known through her role as Carole Lombard's mother in "My Man Godrey". But besides the fine actors, this movie has just such impressive set design! 'Old Chicago looks pretty darn real, every house, every store seemed authentic, which comes as a big 'ole surprise. The costume design makes the time-setting seem a whole lot more real, and even though some were a little bit over the top, it's still really impressive. But, what I and most people take note of, is the infamous fire scene, that allegedly started with cow tipping over a lantern. The fire burns the whole town up realistically, from the buildings collapsing, as well as the smoke blowing around all over. The extras that run around all over the town add so much, I can't even tell you how much it felt like a documentary of some sort. In Old Chicago is indescribable, and I'm sure you will feel the same way.
July 26, 2011
This movie just looks like it could have been done a whole lot better.
May 3, 2011
I was fascinated by the Chicago Fire when I was a child ...
½ April 10, 2011
Pretty good. Great special effects. Good story, a lil slow here and there, but its not horrible. Entertaining but dated. Doesn't hold up like some other old movies.
November 20, 2010
Insight into America's past, and for that time, a great effort was put into the making. The mentality of Chicago's people is indeed a strange and special one, actually many of them have come from Ireland.

Later in the 1940s this would become the place where the first atomic bomb was constructed, and in the 1970s, Motorola designed the 68000 microprocessor, maybe THE microprocessor as such, it was the world's first 32-bit processor, and for that time, revolutionary. However it did not really make it, in favour of Intel, even if it looks very comfortable and efficient to use.

Later Chicago would become arena for at times doubtful internet gallions life for instance a guy known as "Jimbo Wales", however it is not fully clear if wikipedia specifically resembles Chicago. I would say, according to the movie plot, yea maybe it would, but in the end everything is destroyed.

Many people actually like Chicago, it has beautiful city scape, a river flowing through the city, however it is not really seen in the movie.

If you are interested in America, or specifically Chicago, this movie is a must-see. And it's beautiful, really worth watching it more than once.
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