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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

IN OLD CHICAGO (1938)


Fox head Darryl Zanuck had a bad case of pic envy after Goldwyn ’s BARBARY COAST/’35 & M-G-M ’s SAN FRANCISCO/’36, so the resemblance here is quite intentional. (And who’d have guessed that the stinker of these three would be the Howard Hawks pic, BARBARY COAST?) But that needn’t stop you from watching the O’Leary brothers fight to control Chicago before the big blaze settles all scores. Tyrone Power is in his prime as the scapegrace wheeler-dealer while poor Don Ameche gets stuck with all the noble sentiments. He doesn’t even get to paw pillowy Alice Faye. But the lux production impresses, while Zanuck’s go-to guys, writer Lamar Trotti & helmer Henry King (both underrated when working within their fach), give us something to chew on while we wait for the pyrotechnics. Watch for Brian Donlevy ’s characterful perf & for his alarming sidekick, Rondo Hatton. (Be sure you watch the longer ‘roadshow’ cut on the Fox-DVD.)

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