Based on a true crime story, the movie is about a wild jazz-loving and boozing wife Roxie Hart who kills her boyfriend in cold blood after he leaves her, and how she finagles her way out ... See full summary »
Based on a true crime story, the movie is about a wild jazz-loving and boozing wife Roxie Hart who kills her boyfriend in cold blood after he leaves her, and how she finagles her way out being convicted. Remade once as a movie, and as a Broadway musical. Written by
Jonah Falcon <email@example.com>
The Broadway play, "Chicago," which inspired this film, 1942's Roxie Hart, and the Tony-award winning musical and Oscar-winning 2002 film, was based on a true story. The characters of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly were inspired by the real-life cases of two Chicago women -- Beaulah Annan and Belva Gaertner -- who each murdered their lovers in 1924. Both women were tried in separate cases, which became media sensations in Chicago, and both were acquitted. Playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins covered both trials as a reporter for the "Chicago Tribune," and adapted her experiences into the play, "Chicago." See more »
excellent version of the famous story of Roxie Hart
I really liked this film, viewed from the UCLA print. Phyllis Haver, now all but forgotten, shines as Roxie Hart, a good time girl who despises her husband and seeks sugar daddies for fun. As soon as you see her pretending to sleep, having discarded her garter with bells attached, you know she's trouble.
So Roxie kills, and goes to jail, and because she's blonde and pretty, she's taken up by the media in this wild world of flappers and jazz. Those familiar with the musical film with Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones will be wondering 'where's Velma?' but that character isn't in the forefront at all. This film is all about Roxie, and, more than the musical version, to some extent about her cuckolded husband Amos. Here we see his point of view on several occasions, and even follow him in scenes where Roxie doesn't appear. Victor Varconi puts in a lovely performance as Amos in this film.
Haver might dominate the proceedings, and lights up what is already a fast-moving and effective bit of jazz fluff, but there's a good, if brief performance from Eugene Palette as well. As Casely he is very watchable indeed.
As this was a late silent, the acting styles are mainly naturalistic, and the fact that it does not have sound, only titles, doesn't matter a bit when it comes to following the story. Miss Haver acts her heart out anyway and you can feel her contempt, her fear, her desperation, just as you would if you could hear it.
A superior film, and one which occasionally makes it out for public showings. A great pity it isn't on DVD as it is extremely enjoyable and deserves a wider potential audience.
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