All AMC Shows
Movies on AMC
In Old Chicago (1938)
In Old Chicago is a 1937 American drama film directed by Henry King. The screenplay by Sonya Levien and Lamar Trotti was based on the Niven Busch story, "We the O'Learys." The film is a fictionalized account about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and stars Alice Brady as Mrs. O'Leary, the owner of the cow which started the fire, and Tyrone Power and Don Ameche as her sons. It also starred Alice Faye and Andy Devine. At the time of its release, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. The O'Leary family are travelling to Chicago to start a new life when Patrick O'Leary tries to race a steam train in his wagon. He is killed when his horses bolt. His wife Molly and their three boys are left to survive on their own. In town she agrees to prove her skills as a laundress when a woman's dress is accidentally spattered with mud. She quickly proves herself and builds up a laundry business in an area known as "the Patch". Her sons are educated. One, Jack, becomes a reforming lawyer, but another, Dion, is involved in gambling. While washing a sheet, Mrs O'Leary discovers a drawing, apparently created by Gil Warren, a devious local businessman.
Well, this is not their story.
In Old Chicago imagines the (here, nearly fictional) O'Leary family in the days before the infamous fire, turning Mrs. O'Leary into a widow and giving her two sons (Tyrone Power and Don Ameche) who ply the opposite sides of the tracks. The first two-thirds of the film concerns the O'Leary boys -- one has political aspirations and one is quite the opposite, setting up the machinations that will come to play when that stupid cow kicks over that carelessly lit lantern. Much like the modern-day Titanic, the disaster to follow is just a backdrop for the character study. And unfortunately, In Old Chicago can't hold our interest for much more than five minutes on this account.
Alice Faye won an Oscar playing the film's chanteuse, and the film was nominated for Best Picture -- a testament to the nearly $2 million spent on it and its amazing special effects. That's not a CGI fire, folks.