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In Old Chicago

Tyrone Power , Alice Faye , Henry King    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 16.98
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In Old Chicago + Alexander's Ragtime Band + Rose of Washington Square
Price For All Three: CDN$ 30.96


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In Old Chicago was 20th Century Fox's grandest production of 1938, and it's still worthy of classic status. Along with MGM's 1936 earthquake drama San Fracisco, it ranks among the finest of the early disaster films, and the climactic depiction of the great Chicago fire of 1871 is still impressive, with some shots that are just as amazing as the digitally rendered disaster effects of present-day Hollywood. It's a highly fictionalized account of the O'Leary family, whose legendary milk-cow kicked over the lamp that set Chicago ablaze, and the teaming of Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, and Alice Faye (as O'Leary brothers Dion and Jack, and Jack's showgirl wife Belle) proved so popular that they were reunited, along with director Henry King, in Darryl F. Zanuck's follow-up production of Alexander's Ragtime Band. They lead a lively cast (including Andy Devine and Brian Donlevy) that delivers all the entertainment value that Zanuck could muster, focusing on the rivalry between Jack and Dion as they clash over their political ambitions and future plans for "The Patch," the beloved Chicago slum district in which they were raised. Their mother (played by Alice Brady in an Oscar®-winning performance) struggles to hold her brood together, and the sibling rivalry reaches a fever pitch just as the city's about to go up in flames. Along the way we're treated to Faye's silky-smooth performances of vintage show tunes (like the title song), and movie buffs will appreciate the early appearance of Rondo Hatton, a bit player who suffered from acromegaly, a deforming pituitary condition (similar to gigantism) that caused him to have one of the most unique faces in the history of movies. --Jeff Shannon

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Road Show Version a Treasure! Nov. 17 2005
Format:DVD
At last - the full movie! The scenes included in the road show version help flesh out the narrative, and the movie is now much more consistent and coherent than in the shorter version (until now, the only version available). If you liked this movie before, you'll like it even better now. It was an ambitious project by a fledgling studio (made when 20th Century Fox was only two years old) and they pulled it off in style. In addition, this disc includes a worthwhile biography of Don Ameche - a mainstay of the era's movies who won the Oscar decades later for "Cocoon".
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Pre-"Backdraft" Masterpiece Dec 19 2001
Format:VHS Tape
20th Century-Fox took its cue from MGM's 1936 hit "San Francisco" (with its spectacular earthquake scenes) and made its own disaster hit. Tyrone Power and Alice Faye were Fox's answer to MGM's Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald, and along with Don Ameche and the incomparable Alice Brady, their film just as fun and entertaining as MGM's hit.
Good Americana, with enough melodrama and music to satisfy any diehard movie fan. The highlight is the great Chicago fire, which is even more spectacular than the burning of Atlanta in another 30's classic, "GWTW". It is amazing they did all those great special effects without computers and animation. Just good old-fashioned sets on the back-lot. "In Old Chicago" is a golden chestnut from the early disaster movie genre of the 1930's.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service & product Feb. 1 2013
By MFJ
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Excellent sur toute la ligne. Produit de première qualité et expédié rapidement !
Exactement comme promis et selon la réputation du fournisseur.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
IN OLD CHICAGO (1940) - Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Alice Brady, Andy Devine, Brian Donlevy, Sidney Blackmer, Gene Raymond

This DVD presents two well-preserved versions. An original "road show" edition of the film that was whittled down before general circulation from 111 to 95 minutes. The final cut is here as well. Also included is a BIOGRAPHY episode, Don Ameche: Hollywood's Class Act, plus commentary tracks and a trailer.

Like all features and cartoons released during the lengthy ASCAP strike, "In Old Chicago" relies for music on such public domain chestnuts as "Oh Genevieve," "The Irish Washerwoman" and "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys."

Set in 1871, a fictional drama of the O'Leary family unfolds while we wait for the family's skittish cow to kick over that lantern. This small barn fire culminates in the destruction of a major portion of the city from an all-engulfing inferno. Really spectacular fire sequences still boggle the mind fully 70 years later. IMO, Tyrone Power's best and a most enjoyable FOX motion picture.

Note: it's surprising that "In Old Chicago" has yet to be remade!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire Never Burned So Real Oct. 3 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is worth seeing for the fire alone. But in a buildup of love and loss, we are given four very human souls to cherish throughout the calm and the chaos.
Alice Brady won an Academy award for her portrayel of Mrs. O'Leary, the owner of the infamous cow and mother of the O'Leary clan. Her performance is sentimental and tough, and her award richly deserved.
The trio of Tyrone Power, Don Ameche and Alice Faye hit it off with memorable characters. Ameche is the honest, hard-working brother who means to make Chicago as good a place as he can. Power gives a splendid performance as the charming but rotten brother whose power in Chicago is both impressive and abused. Faye is the singer caught between them, alternately loving and hating Power along with the rest of us.
This is a wonderful example of the universal tale in which rascals can always be redeemed and cities are never burnt forever. A classic from the silver screen era, with lovely music and an unforgettable climax. Haunting in its tragedy, inspiring for the human story behind it.
A must-see, for any silver-screen fan.
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