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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 movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Alice Brady won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was the first person to win the Supporting Oscar after being nominated in the prior year.

Production notes

During pre-production, MGM had announced that Jean Harlow, who was under contract to that studio, would be loaned to 20th Century Fox to star in the role Belle Fawcett. However due to Harlow's untimely death, the part went to Alice Faye.


Home media

The film was released on DVD in 2005.

Historical inaccuracies

Despite crediting the Chicago Historical Societymarker for assistance with historical research, much of the film is fictionalized.

  • The portrayal of the O'Leary family is completely fictitious down to the names of the characters. Mrs. O'Leary's name was Catherine, not Molly.
  • The O'Learys had two children, one son and one daughter. (In the movie there are 3 sons) Her only son was named James. The daughter was named Anna.
  • Patrick O'Leary did not die in 1854 as a result of an accident involving his horses. He died in 1894.
  • Mrs O'Leary did not run her own "French Laundry" out of their house.
  • The Mayor of Chicago in 1871 was Roswell B. Mason, not an O'Leary son.

See also


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