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In Old Chicago (1937) Poster

Trivia

Alice Brady won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in this film. Brady wasn't present at the award ceremony, but a man walked up and accepted the award on her behalf. After the show, he and the Oscar were never seen again.
A lantern manufacturer wrote to the studio insisting that the fire must have been started by a lamp, not a lantern. They claimed a lantern would extinguish itself if tipped over, but that claim was found to be false by an actual experiment performed by two assistants at Twentieth Century-Fox. Soon after the fire started, the barn where the fire was supposed to have originated was thoroughly investigated, and no evidence of a lamp or lantern was found.
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The 20-minute climactic fire sequence cost $150,000 to stage and burned for three days on the Fox back lot. It helped make this one of the most expensive films made at the time.
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This was the first of 5 pictures in which Don Ameche and Alice Faye would star together. The others were "You Can't Have Everything" (1937), "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938), "Lillian Russell" (1940) and "That Night in Rio" (1941).
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Having been nominated in 1936 for Best Supporting Actress for My Man Godfrey (1936), Alice Brady became the first supporting artist to receive back-to-back nominations.
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This was Darryl F. Zanuck's riposte to the success of MGM's San Francisco (1936). He tried to borrow Clark Gable and Jean Harlow for his production, but MGM head Louis B. Mayer refused to loan them out.
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Lux Radio Theatre's version (aired 10.9.44) starred Dorothy Lamour in the Alice Faye role.
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The real Mrs. O'Leary's name was Catherine, not Molly.
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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.
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According to the DVD which includes the roadshow version (information given in the accompanying leaflet) Western Costumes didn't have enough costumes on hand to dress all the extras in the fire scenes and had to borrow proper period costumes from other costumiers across the country.
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For her "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" number Alice Faye wore the same $1500 pair of jeweled stockings she had sported in "On the Avenue."
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Footage of the burning city from this movie was later, used in the opening sequence of the 1948's film 'Call Northside 777'.
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This film is quite reminiscent of the prior year's San Francisco (1936). Indeed, perhaps a response to the MGM's successful disaster film, this is made in the same vein, where the much awaited earthquake doesn't happen until the last few minutes, equally, the Chicago fire here doesn't until the very last few minutes of the film. Both films also deal with romance betrayal and a cabaret singing female lead.
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Publicity ads stated that Niven Busch's story was entitled "We, the O'Leary's," but legal records indicate there was never such a story title. The fabrication was developed by someone at Twentieth Century-Fox well after the story and screenplay was completely written, thinking it would give the story a more catchy title.
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Alice Faye was cast at the instigation of both 'Tyrone Power (I)' and director Henry King.
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This was Twentieth Century Fox's biggest, and most expensive, production of the year. In its initial release, it was booked as a "roadshow" attraction in which it was booked as an exclusive engagement in the best theaters with higher ticket prices. Approximately 15 minutes was cut from the film for a later general release version.
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Henry King is the official credited director of the film. Contract director H. Bruce Humberstone helmed another unit for the fire and special effects sequences.
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