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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 <email@example.com>
I suspect that Mr. Rob Marshall watched this 1927 silent before making his recent screen adaptation of the smash-hit Broadway musical. The non-musical scenes in his version look an awful lot like this exceptional film.
Phyllis Haver provides a marvelously witty and sexy characterization as Roxie Hart, that ultimate gold digger who shoots her lover for jilting her and then becomes a media sensation. Haver puts all sorts of unique touches on the role, and her scenes during the murder trial are small gems of comic acting. The handsome Victor Varconi, looking for all the world like Liam Neeson, has a much larger role as Amos, Roxie's long-suffering husband, than any subsequent version would give that character. He's still a bit of a sap, but he's a much sharper sap than later incarnations would allow. This original version focuses much more on the domestic relationship between these two -- the roles of Billy Flynn and Mama Morton, treated so colorfully in the musical, are much diminished here, and the character of Velma Kelly is absent altogether.
The recent stage revival and movie have blunted the impact of this story's critique on the modern media and the public's responsibility in enabling our media to peddle trash. It's surprising that a film that came out nearly 80 years ago makes the same point just as candidly; one can only imagine how forceful this message must have seemed at the time.
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