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Story of the great fire of 1871. Fictional story of two sons of Mrs. O'Leary (the owner of the cow which started the fire), one a rogue (Power) the other a lawyer (Ameche). One of the most expensive films of its time ($1.8 million). Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
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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