Chicago (2002 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Marshall|
|Screenplay by||Bill Condon|
by Bob Fosse & Fred Ebb
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Editing by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||113 minutes|
Chicago is a 2002 musical 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 Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta-Jones also featuring Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs, 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 Roxie Hart (Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones), 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 (Renée Zellweger) visits a nightclub, where star Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) performs ("All That Jazz"). Roxie is there with Fred Casely (Dominic West), a lover she hopes will get her a vaudeville gig. After the show, Velma is arrested for killing her husband and sister after finding them in bed together. A month passes, and, after Roxie admits she wants the relationship to go on a long-term basis, Fred reveals to Roxie that he lied about his connections in order to sleep with her and abandons her, hitting her when she protests. Roxie, enraged, shoots him three times, killing him. Roxie convinces her ever faithful husband, Amos (John C. Reilly), to take the blame, telling him it was a burglar and that he needn't worry, he'll get off. When the detective brings up evidence that Roxie had been sleeping with Fred, Amos abandons his lie and says Casely was dead when he got home ("Funny Honey"). Roxie is sent to Cook County Jail.
Upon her arrival she is sent to Murderess' Row, under the care of the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah), who takes bribes and supplies her prisoners with cigarettes and contraband ("When You're Good to Mama") while awaiting trial. Roxie meets Velma, and learns the backstories of the other women in Murderess' Row ("Cell Block Tango"). Roxie decides that she wants to engage Velma's lawyer, the brilliant and amoral Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) ("All I Care About"), and convinces her husband to talk to him. Flynn and Roxie manipulate the press at a press conference, reinventing Roxie's identity to make Chicago fall in love with her ("We Both Reached for the Gun"). Roxie becomes the new infamous celebrity of the Cook County Jail ("Roxie"), much to Velma's disgust and Mama's delight. Velma, desperate to get back into the limelight, tries to talk Roxie into opening a vaudeville act with her once they get out of jail ("I Can't Do It Alone"). Seeking revenge for an earlier mocking, Roxie haughtily refuses, and Roxie and Velma become locked in a rivalry to outshine each other.
After an heiress (Lucy Liu) is arrested for a triple homicide (she killed her husband and the two women in bed with him), Roxie finds herself ignored by the paparazzi and neglected by Flynn. After being told by Velma that her name is not in the paper, Roxie manages to steal back the limelight by claiming to be pregnant, which is confirmed by a doctor, whom it is implied she seduced. As paparazzi chase Roxie, Amos remains ignored ("Mister Cellophane"). Roxie witnesses the execution by hanging of Hunyak (who was falsely accused) after losing her last appeal, which fuels Roxie's desire to be free. Roxie and Billy design their scheme to prove her innocence, by using her star power and sympathy vote. Her trial becomes a media spectacle ("Razzle Dazzle"), fed on the sensationalist reports of newspaper reporter and radio personality, Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski). The trial goes Roxie's way until Velma shows up with Roxie's diary. In exchange for amnesty, Velma reads incriminating entries from the diary that could convict Roxie; however, Billy manages to get her off the hook by forcing Velma to admit that she had been given the diary by someone Billy strongly implies to be the prosecuting attorney. Roxie's publicity after her release is short-lived: as soon as the trial concludes, the public's attention turns to a new murderess. Roxie leaves the courthouse after Billy tells her that it is Chicago and she can't beat fresh blood off the walls. He also reveals that he gave Velma the diary after doctoring it to ensure that it could be used to incriminate the DA, allowing him to free two clients at once. Roxie reveals to Amos she faked her pregnancy for the fame. It is implied, but never stated, that Amos leaves her at this point.
With nothing left, Roxie once more sets off to find a stage career, with little success ("Nowadays"). However, she is soon approached by Velma, also down on her luck, who is willing to revive a two-person act with Roxie. Roxie refuses at first, still not over the hate they shared for each other while in prison, but relents when Velma points out that "there's only one business in the world where that's not a problem at all: show business." The two murderesses, no longer facing jail time, finally become the enormous successes they have been longing to be ("Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag"). The film concludes with Roxie and Velma receiving a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience that includes Mama and Billy.
- Renée Zellweger as Roxanne "Roxie" Hart, a housewife who aspires to be a vaudevillian.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly, a showgirl who is arrested for the murders of her husband named Charlie and her sister named Veronica.
- Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, a duplicitous, smooth-talking lawyer who turns his clients into celebrities to gain public support for them.
- Queen Latifah as Matron "Mama" Morton, the corrupt matron of the Cook County Jail.
- John C. Reilly as Amos Hart, Roxie's naïve, simple-minded, but devoted husband.
- Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine, an overtrusting reporter who only highlights the good in people (a role originally intended to be played by a man in drag).
- 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.
- Dominic West as Frederick "Fred" Casely, Roxie's deceitful lover and murder victim.
- Colm Feore as Harrison, the prosecutor in both Roxie and Velma's court cases.
- Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. Borusewicz, the Harts neighbor from across the hall.
- Chita Rivera as Nicky.
- Susan Misner, Denise Faye, Deidre Goodwin, Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, and Mýa Harrison as The Merry Murderesses (Liz, Annie, June, Katalin Helinszki (Hunyak), and Mona). The Hunyak is the only one who did not commit a crime as proven innocent.
Musical numbers 
- "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
- "Class" – Velma and Mama (This song, performed by Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was filmed, but it was cut from the film. The scene was later included on the DVD release and the film's broadcast television premiere on NBC in 2005, and the song was included on the 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
- "Exit Music" – Instrumental
The film is based on the 1975 Kander and Ebb Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on the Maurine Watkins play, Chicago. That original play was based on the stories of two real-life Jazz-era killers, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner.
The original 1975 Broadway production was not well received by audiences, primarily due to the show's cynical tone. However, the minimalist 1996 revival was much more successful, still running on Broadway in 2012, and the influences of both productions can be seen in the film version. The original production's musical numbers were staged as vaudeville acts; the film respects this but presents them in a cutaway form, while scenes that take place in "real life" have a hard-edged realism.
A film version of Chicago was to have been the next project for legendary stage and film choreographer and director Bob Fosse, who directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production. Though he died before this film was made, his distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout. In particular, the parallels to Cabaret (1972) are numerous and distinct. He is thanked in the film's credits.
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.
Critical response 
Chicago was received with positive reviews. On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 87% approval rating; 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 Filmcritic 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.
Box office 
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.
Home media 
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 Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon. There is also a deleted musical number called "Class", performed by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah.
Awards and nominations 
- Chicago at Box Office Mojo
- New York Times
- "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.
- "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.
- "Chicago (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chicago|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Chicago (2002 film)|
- Official website
- Chicago at the Internet Movie Database
- Chicago at the TCM Movie Database
- Chicago at Box Office Mojo
- Chicago at Rotten Tomatoes