Older homes built in deep valleys most likely have trouble do to poor ventilation to the fire or a temperature inversion. The latter would be where the smoke stays in the valley and gets back into the house through some other means. The former is easily corrected by opening a window to increase the ventilation.
I still stand by my description of how a fireplace is supposed to work. If a fireplace is set up correctly there is no way that the smoke and exhaust gases are going to come out of the firebox into the living space. If it does then you don't have something set up correctly.
What you mention above as a problem with the fireplace isn't a problem with the fireplace. I will agree with you that if there isn't a breeze or you live in an enclosed valley then you might have a problem with the smoke coming back into the living space, but it will not do so through the fireplace.