Chicago (2002 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Marshall|
|Produced by||Martin Richards|
|Screenplay by||Bill Condon|
by John Kander & Fred Ebb
|Music by||John Kander (music)
Fred Ebb (lyrics)
|Edited by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||113 minutes|
Chicago is a 2002 American musical comedy film adapted from the satirical stage musical of the same name, exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Jazz Age Chicago. The film stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere, and also features John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu, Colm Feore, and Mýa Harrison.
Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, and adapted by screenwriter Bill Condon, Chicago won six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. The film was critically lauded, and was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1969.
Chicago centers on Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger), two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago. Velma, a vaudevillian, and Roxie, a housewife, fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows.
In Chicago, circa 1924, naïve Roxie Hart visits a nightclub where star Velma Kelly performs ("All That Jazz"). Roxie begins an affair with Fred Casely, whom she believes will make her a vaudeville star. After the show, Velma is arrested for killing her husband and sister after finding them in bed together. A month passes and Casely, when Roxie becomes too clingy for his taste, admits that he lied about his connections so she would sleep with him. Enraged, Roxie fatally shoots him with a gun and convinces her husband Amos to take the blame, telling him she has killed a burglar and that he is likely to be released on self-defense. As he confesses to the detective, Roxie fantasizes that she is singing a song devoted to her husband ("Funny Honey"). However, when the detective brings up evidence that Roxie knew Casely and they were having an affair, Amos comes clean and Roxie furiously admits what happened and is sent to Cook County Jail. Ambitious District Attorney Harrison informs the press he intends to seek the death penalty.
Upon her arrival Roxie is sent to Murderess' Row, under the care of the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton, ("When You're Good to Mama"). Roxie meets Velma and learns the backstories of the other women in Murderess' Row ("Cell Block Tango"). She attempts to befriend Velma, whom she idolizes, but is rudely rebuffed. On Morton's advice, Roxie decides to engage Velma's lawyer, the brilliant Billy Flynn ("All I Care About"). Flynn and Roxie manipulate the press at a press conference, reinventing Roxie's identity as an originally virtuous woman turned bad by the fast life of the city; she claims to have had an affair with Casely because Amos was always working, but wanted to reform herself and start a family with Amos, which made Casely jealous. The press believe the story and turn her into a tragic heroine praised by the public ("We Both Reached for the Gun"). Roxie becomes an overnight sensation ("Roxie"), which infuriates Velma as it takes away the attention from herself. Velma tries to convince Roxie to doing a double-act, replacing the sister that she murdered ("I Can't Do It Alone"), but Roxie, now the more popular one of the two, snubs her like Velma originally did and the two begin a rivalry.
Roxie's fame dwindles when Kitty Baxter, a wealthy heiress, is arrested for the murder of her husband and his two lovers, and the press and Flynn pay more attention to Kitty. Roxie, to Velma's surprise, quickly steals back the fame when she pretends to be pregnant. However, Amos is ignored by the press ("Mister Cellophane"), and Flynn, to create more sympathy for Roxie, convinces Amos that the child is not his and that he should divorce Roxie in the middle of her predicament. Roxie's fame makes her arrogant and over-confident and refuses Flynn's command to wear a very modest dress for her trial, and fires him when she believes she can win on her own. However, when she sees one of the women in Murderess' Row hanged, a Hungarian heavily implied to be innocent, she realizes the brevity of the situation and re-hires Flynn.
Roxie's trial begins and Billy turns it into a media spectacle ("Razzle Dazzle") with the help of the sensationalist reports of newspaper reporter and radio personality, Mary Sunshine. Billy discredits witnesses, manipulates evidence, and even stages a reunion between Amos and Roxie when she admits that the child is his, and they publicly reconcile. The trial seems to be going in Roxie's way until Velma appears with Roxie's diary, where she reads incriminating diary entries in exchange for amnesty. Billy discredits the diary, implying that the prosecuting attorney was the one who planted the evidence ("A Tap Dance"). Roxie is acquitted, but her fame dies a few seconds later when a woman shoots her husband just outside the court. Flynn tells her to accept it, and admits that he tampered with her diary and gave it to Mama, who gave it to Velma, in order to both incriminate the district attorney and free two clients at once. Amos remains loyal and excited to be a father, and she cruelly rejects him and reveals her fake pregnancy, and he finally leaves her.
Roxie eventually becomes a vaudeville actress, but is very unsuccessful ("Nowadays"). Velma approaches her, implied to be just as unsuccessful, and suggests that a pair of murderesses in vaudeville would become a famous act. Roxie refuses at first, but accepts when they realize that they can perform together despite their resentment for each other. The two stage a spectacular performance that earns them the love of the audience and the press ("Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag"). The film concludes with Roxie and Velma receiving a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience, and, as flashbulbs pop, proclaiming that "We couldn't have done it without you".
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly, a showgirl who is arrested for the murders of her husband, Charlie, and her sister, Veronica.
- Renée Zellweger as Roxanne "Roxie" Hart, a housewife who aspires to be a vaudevillian, arrested for the murder of her deceitful lover.
- Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, a duplicitous, smooth-talking lawyer who turns his clients into celebrities to gain public support for them.
- John C. Reilly as Amos Hart, Roxie's naïve, simple-minded but devoted husband.
- Queen Latifah as Matron "Mama" Morton, the corrupt but nurturing matron of the Cook County Jail.
- Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine, a sensationalist reporter.
- Taye Diggs as The Bandleader, a shadowy, mystical master of ceremonies who introduces each song.
- Lucy Liu as Kitty Baxter, a millionaire heiress who briefly outshines Velma and Roxie when she kills her husband and his two mistresses.
- Colm Feore as Harrison, the prosecutor in both Roxie and Velma's court cases.
- Mýa Harrison as Mona, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- Dominic West as Fred Casely, Roxie's deceitful lover and murder victim.
- Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. Borusewicz, the Harts' neighbor from across the hall.
- Chita Rivera as Nicky, a prostitute.
- Susan Misner as Liz, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- Denise Faye as Annie, a prisoner on murderer's row .
- Ekaterina Chtchelkanova as The Hunyak (Katalin Helinszki), a prisoner on murderer's row who does not speak English except for two words: "not guilty".
- Conrad Dunn as Doctor
- Deidre Goodwin as June, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- "Overture / All That Jazz" – Velma, Company
- "Funny Honey" – Roxie
- "When You're Good to Mama" – Mama
- "Cell Block Tango" – Velma, Cell Block Girls
- "All I Care About" – Billy, Chorus Girls
- "We Both Reached for the Gun" – Billy, Roxie, Mary, Reporters
- "Roxie" – Roxie, Chorus Boys
- "I Can't Do It Alone" – Velma
- "Mister Cellophane" – Amos
- "Razzle Dazzle" – Billy, Company
- "A Tap Dance" - Billy
- "Class" – Velma and Mama (cut from film; included in DVD and 2005 broadcast premiere on NBC, and film soundtrack album)
- "Nowadays" – Roxie
- "Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag" – Roxie, Velma
- "I Move On" – Roxie and Velma (over the end credits)
- "All That Jazz (reprise)" – Velma, Company
Production and development
The film is based on the 1975 Broadway musical, which ran for 936 performances but was not well received by audiences, primarily due to the show's cynical tone. A film version of Chicago was to have been the next project for Bob Fosse, who had directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production and had won an Oscar for his direction of the film version of Cabaret (1972). Although he died before realizing his version, Fosse's distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout the 2003 film, and he is thanked in the credits.
The minimalist 1996 revival of the musical proved far more successful, having played more than 6,700 performances (as of 2014), holding records for longest-running musical revival, longest-running American musical on Broadway, and third longest-running show in Broadway history. Its runaway success sparked a greater appreciation of the 1975 original production and renewed stalled interest in a long-anticipated film adaptation, which incorporates the influences of both productions. The original production's musical numbers were staged as vaudeville acts; the film respects this but presents them as cutaway scenes in the mind of the Roxie character, while scenes in "real life" are filmed with a hard-edged grittiness. (This construct is the reason given by director Marshall why "Class," performed by Velma & Mama, was cut from the film.)
The musical itself was based on a 1926 Broadway play by Maurine Watkins about two real-life Jazz-era murderers Beulah Annan (Roxie Hart) and Belva Gaertner (Velma Kelly). The George Abbott-directed production, starring Francine Larrimore and Juliette Crosby, ran for 172 performances at the Music Box Theatre, and within a year was adapted to a film in which Gaertner herself had a cameo.
Chicago was produced by American companies Miramax Films and The Producers Circle in association with the German company Kallis Productions. Chicago was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The courthouse scene was shot in Osgoode Hall. Other scenes were filmed at Queen's Park, former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, Casa Loma, the Elgin Theatre, Union Station, the Canada Life Building, the Danforth Music Hall, and at the Old City Hall. All vocal coaching for the film was led by Toronto-based Elaine Overholt, whom Richard Gere thanked personally during his Golden Globe acceptance speech.
Chicago was received with critical acclaim. On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 87% approval rating; the general consensus states: "A rousing and energetic adaptation of the Broadway musical, Chicago succeeds on the level pure spectacle, but provides a surprising level of depth and humor as well." On Metacritic, the film averaged a critical score of 82 (indicating "universal acclaim").
Tim Robey, writer for The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom, labeled Chicago as "The best screen musical for 30 years." He also stated that it has taken a "three-step tango for us to welcome back the movie musical as a form." Robey said "This particular Chicago makes the most prolific use it possibly can out of one specific advantage the cinema has over the stage when it comes to song and dance: it's a sustained celebration of parallel montage."  Roger Ebert called it "Big, brassy fun".
However, other reviews claimed that there were issues with the film being too streamlined, and minor complaints were made toward Marshall's directing influences. AMC critic Sean O'Connell explains in his review of the film that "All That Jazz", "Funny Honey", and "Cell Block Tango" play out much like you'd expect them to on stage, with little enhancement (or subsequent interference) from the camera. But by the time "Razzle Dazzle" comes around, all of these concerns are diminished.
The film grossed $170,687,518 in the United States and Canada, as well $136,089,214 in other territories. Combined, the film grossed $306,403,013 worldwide, which was, at the time, the highest gross of any film never to reach #1 or #2 in the weekly box office charts in the North American markets (Canada and United States—where it peaked at #3). This record has since been outdone by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Worldwide Chicago it was the highest grossing live action musical with $306 million, a record that was then broken by Enchanted.
Chicago along with an earlier musical Moulin Rouge! is widely considered to be responsible for the re-emergence of the musical film genre. Following the success of Chicago many musical films have been released in cinemas including The Producers, Rent, Hairspray, Enchanted, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables, Rock of Ages (which also had Catherine Zeta Jones) and Sunshine on Leith, all of these, bar Enchanted and Sunshine on Leith, were adaptations of Broadway/West End stage shows (Enchanted was an original property while Sunshine on Leith was an adaptation of a Dundee Reps production).
Chicago was released on DVD in Region 1 (USA, Canada, and US territories) on August 19, 2003. It was released in Full Screen and Widescreen. In addition to this release, a two-disc "Razzle Dazzle" Edition was released over two years later on December 20, 2005, and later, on Blu-ray format, in January 2007 and, in an updated release, in May 2011. Miramax was the label responsible for the production of the DVDs and the discs themselves provide a feature-length audio commentary track with director Marshall and screenwriter Condon. There is also a deleted musical number called "Class", performed by Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah.
Awards and nominations
- "CHICAGO (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. December 12, 2002. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- "Chicago (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- Mitchell, Elvis (December 27, 2002). "Movie Review: Chicago (2002)". The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- Glenn, "Chicago" in Movie Musicals: from Stage to Screen.
- Peter Nichols, "Adding a song to Chicago" in NY Times, 15 Aug 2003.
- "Chicago Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- "Chicago reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- Robey, Tim (Decembery 27, 2002). "This Jailhouse Rocks". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved November 17, 2009. Check date values in:
- "Chicago (2002) - Cream of the Crops". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- O'Connell, Sean (January 21, 2003). "Chicago". Filmcritic.com. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
- "Top Grossing Movies That Never Hit #1 at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- "The 75th Academy Awards (2003) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "The 2003 Oscar Winners". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Bafta.org. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "The 2003 Golden Globe Award Winners". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 2002". Bfca.org. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "O.F.C.S.: The Online Film Critics Society". Rotten Tomatoes. January 6, 2003. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "The 2003 Screen Actors Guild Award Winners". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
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- Official website
- Chicago at the Internet Movie Database
- Chicago at the TCM Movie Database
- Chicago at Box Office Mojo
- Chicago at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chicago at Metacritic