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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Immortalized by Martha at the beginning of "Who's afraid of Virginia Wolff," "In Old Chicago" is a dramatization (you know, 20th Century Fox style) of the 1871 Chicago fire. As is fitting, it focuses on the owners of the cow that allegedly started it all, the O'Learys. Tyrone Power is the drop dead gorgeous, bad boy brother of good Don Ameche. "Little Miss Alice Faye," (as Martha says) plays Power's love interest, a dance hall girl.
All of the performances are good, the threesome of Power-Ameche-Faye being a great combination that works well here and in "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Faye gets to show off her voice, and she looks very pretty, having graduated from the days when Zanuck tried to make her look like Jean Harlow. The role was actually intended for Harlow, who died before she could do it; Gable was also supposed to be loaned out for the Power role. Power had only started with Fox a year earlier. Harlow's death killed the deal. Also in the film is Rondo Hatton, referred to by Power as "Rondo." Hatton suffered from acromegaly after laughing gas exposure in World War I. Standing side by side were a man who, due to disease, was deformed and ugly, and Power, perhaps the handsomest man in the world. More ironic yet, Power had no appreciation of his looks, feeling they kept him from roles he wanted.
The fire and devastation effects are fantastic, Fox no doubt feeling the "heat" from MGM's "San Francisco" earthquake scenes.
Alice Brady gives a strong performance, with a somewhat melodramatic monologue at the end. She won an Oscar, which was stolen by the person she sent to accept it. A lovely actress, it's a shame she died at the age of 47.
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