Chicago (2002 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Marshall|
|Screenplay by||Bill Condon|
by John Kander & Fred Ebb
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Editing by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||113 minutes|
Chicago is a 2002 American musical comedy-drama 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, and also features 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 visits a nightclub, where star Velma Kelly performs ("All That Jazz"). Roxie is there with Fred Casely, a lover she hopes will be able to 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, 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 sweet, dim-witted 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, Roxie fantasizes (as she does throughout the film), that she is a famous singer, introduced by an elegant bandleader and sings a torch song to her devoted husband ("Funny Honey"). 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, and Roxie, enraged, confesses to the killing. Roxie is sent to Cook County Jail, and ambitious District Attorney Harrison informs the press he intends to seek the death penalty.
Upon her arrival she is sent to Murderess' Row, under the care of the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton, 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"). She attempts to befriend Velma, who has been enjoying the notoriety and press coverage the murder has gotten her, but is rudely rebuffed. On Morton's advice, Roxie decides to engage Velma's lawyer, the brilliant and amoral Billy Flynn ("All I Care About"), and convinces her husband to pay his $5,000 fee. Flynn and Roxie manipulate the press at a press conference, reinventing Roxie's identity and inventing a sob story self-defense strategy ("We Both Reached for the Gun"). Roxie becomes an overnight sensation ("Roxie"), much to Velma's disgust and Mama's delight. Velma, desperate to get back into the limelight, tries to talk Roxie into reviving the double-act Velma used to perform with the sister she murdered ("I Can't Do It Alone"). Remembering Velma's earlier snub, Roxie haughtily refuses, and Roxie and Velma become locked in a rivalry to outshine each other.
Roxie's star takes a sudden tumble when wealthy heiress Kitty Baxter is arrested for the murder of her lover and the two women she found in bed with him. Immediately, Roxie finds herself ignored by the paparazzi and neglected by Flynn. To Velma's shock, Roxie manages to steal back the limelight by claiming to be pregnant, which is confirmed by a doctor she implicitly seduced. As paparazzi chase Roxie, Amos remains ignored ("Mister Cellophane"), and to create further sympathy for his client, Billy manipulates him into divorcing Roxie by convincing him the child she is expecting is not his. Roxie's success, however, goes to her head and leads to a screaming fight between her and Billy when she refuses to wear the modest dress he has selected for her trial. However, Roxie agrees to go along with his schemes after she witnesses the execution of one of her fellow prisoners, a Hungarian woman who is implied to be innocent of the murder for which she is hanged.
Roxie's trial begins and Billy immediately turns it into a media spectacle ("Razzle Dazzle"), fed on the sensationalist reports of newspaper reporter and radio personality, Mary Sunshine. Billy discredits witnesses, manipulates evidence, and even stages a reunion for the cameras where he gets Roxie to swear her child is Amos' and to forgive him for leaving her. 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 discredit her testimony by getting Velma to admit that she had been given the diary by someone Billy strongly implies to be the prosecuting attorney ("A Tap Dance").
Roxie is acquitted, but her publicity after her release is short-lived: less than a minute after her trial concludes, a woman shoots her husband and his lawyer on the steps of the court building and the public's attention turns to a new murderess. Roxie is left confused and baffled, but Billy tells her that it "that's Chicago" and she can't "beat fresh blood on the walls". He also reveals that he gave Velma the diary after doctoring it to ensure that it could be used to incriminate the district attorney, allowing him to free two clients at once. Only Amos is willing to stand by Roxie, but she cruelly rejects him and informs him she has faked her pregnancy, and he quietly leaves.
With nothing left, Roxie once more sets off on a stage career, with little success ("Nowadays"). However, she is soon approached by Velma, also down on her luck, who again proposes that they team up: one Jazz killer is nothing, but two would be sensational. Roxie refuses at first, pointing out she and Velma hate each other, but relents when Velma replies that "there's only one business in the world where that's not a problem at all." 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, and, as flashbulbs pop, proclaiming that "We couldn't have done it without you!"
- 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, Charlie, and her sister, 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 but nurturing 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, 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.
- Dominic West as 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, a prostitute.
- Susan Misner as Liz, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- Denise Faye as Annie, a prisoner on murderer's row .
- Deidre Goodwin as June, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- Ekaterina Chtchelkanova as The Hunyak (Katalin Helinszki), a prisoner on murderer's row who does not speak English.
- Mýa Harrison as Mona, a prisoner on murderer's row.
- Conrad Dunn as Doctor
- "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
Production and development
The film is based on the 1926 Broadway play by Maurine Watkins in which she told the story of two real-life Jazz-era murderers Buelah Annan and Belva Gaertner. A year later, the play was turned into the 1927 film adaptation in which Belva Gaertner, known as Velma Kelly in the original play and film version, played a minor character.
The original 1926 Broadway production opened on December 30, 1926 at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, and ran for 172 performances. It was directed by George Abbott with Francine Larrimore as Roxie Hart (based on Beulah Annan) and Juliette Crosby as Velma Kelly (based on Belva Gaertner). In 1975, a musical version of the play premiered, and ran for 936 performances.
The 1975 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the third longest-running show in Broadway history having played more than 6,700 performances. However, the 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 2014, 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.
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.
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.
- "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.
- "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.|
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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