In Old Chicago (1937)

Approved  |   |  Action, Drama, Musical  |  15 April 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,464 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 16 critic

The O'Leary brothers -- honest Jack and roguish Dion -- become powerful figures, and eventually rivals, in Chicago on the eve of its Great Fire.



(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Belle Fawcett
Pickle Bixby
Gil Warren
Phyllis Brooks ...
Ann Colby
Senator Colby
June Storey ...
Paul Hurst ...
Edward (Mitch) Mitchell
Tyler Brooke ...
Specialty Singer
J. Anthony Hughes ...
Patrick O'Leary
Gene Reynolds ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The great American motion picture!


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Release Date:

15 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chicago  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,800,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


An early story outline was written by Richard Collins and based on the book "Barriers Burned Away" by Edward Payson Roe, which was the story of the Chicago fire. However, legal records state that none of Roe's novel was used in the final screenplay. See more »


At 1:26:10, Gil's position on the house changes. See more »


[repeated line]
Dion O'Leary: We O'Learys are a strange tribe.
See more »


Referenced in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) See more »


Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
(1878) (uncredited)
Written by James Allen Bland
Sung by Alice Faye and an unidentified male quartet at The Hub
See more »

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User Reviews

"We O'Learys Are A Strange Tribe."
11 August 2004 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This was the first of three films that teamed Tyrone Power and Alice Faye, the others being Alexander's Ragtime Band and Rose of Washington Square. In Old Chicago and Alexander's Ragtime Band also had Don Ameche in it. And it set a pattern, no way was Ameche going to get Faye when Power was on the scene.

Ty Power's roles in his Fox days fell in two Categories. He was either the total romantic hero or he was a hero/heel. In In Old Chicago he's the latter although Power usually has the heroic side win out in these parts, he's not above a little scheming. Power's Dion O"Leary both double crosses Brian Donlevy and marries Alice Faye not just because he loves her, but so she can't testify against him. But Ty's always a charming likable cuss and Ameche is always the straight arrow, but slightly dull rival and in this case, brother.

However the film is known for two things. It gave Alice Faye her first real notice as actress. Up to this point, she'd been a Jean Harlow wannabe right down to the platinum blonde hair. Here Faye gets those period costumes that she wore so well. It was the first of many successes in that genre.

The second thing is the grand special effects showing the burning of Chicago. Even almost 70 years later it's a spectacular sight.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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