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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first screen adaptation of the Broadway hit has Phyllis Haver playing Roxie Hart, a morally questionable young woman who murders her lover (Eugene Palette) in cold blood when he says he's leaving her. Her husband (Victor Varconi) must try and raise money to hire a lawyer (Robert Edeson) but even he is quite crooked and things don't get any easier once the trial becomes a media sensation. CHICAGO was turned into an Oscar-winning musical in 2002 and Ginger Rogers played the role in a 1944 film (ROXIE HART) but this silent version has been pretty difficult to see up until a few years ago when UCLA restored it. There was a lot of hype going into this movie because so many people have talked it up to be something terrific and while it really didn't reach that level, it's still a pretty entertaining little movie. Frank Urson does a nice job directing the film and I really enjoyed that free-spirited, Jazz-like feeling he brings to the movie. There are some very strong moments including the opening murder sequence, which I've read was extended here compared to what was on the stage at the time. The way the murder scene breaks down was quite interesting visually and the way they show the murder was pretty ambitious. Another terrific sequence happens when Roxie enters the jail and is introduced to the various characters in there. May Robson plays one of the women and does a nice job but the cat-fight that breaks out between Roxie and another woman was very well done and quite a lot of fun. Then, there's some nice drama as the husband is forced to do some crooked things just to protect the wife who was cheating on him. The entire cast does a nice job but there's no doubt that the picture belongs to Haver. She's perfect as the freewheeling girl and I really loved the breezy nature she brought to the character. I thought the way she just floated on screen really brought the character to life and just look at the way she brings out that flirtatious nature. Edeson is just fine as the crooked lawyer and Varconi really stands out as the husband. Palette would become a very well-known character actor and it was a lot of fun seeing him in this early bit. CHICAGO does have a few problems with one of them being that it runs a tad bit too long. I think a few of the scenes just run on and on and a little bit of editing would have helped. Producer Cecil B. DeMille's stamp is all over the picture but at the same time I can't help but wonder what he might have done with the subject matter.
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