Like the musical Chicago that won the Best Picture Academy Award and five other Oscars in 2002, this original 1927 version descends from a 1926 hit Broadway play by Maurine Watkins. It’s a terrifically entertaining mix of humor and melodrama as well as a pungent critique of trash journalism. Frank Urson signed onto Chicago as director, although it is substantially the work of Cecil B. DeMille and his A-list technical staff. (DeMille apparently judged it unseemly to take full credit for this cynical and secular story while his religious spectacle The King of Kings was still in theatres!) Chicago is silent filmmaking at its peak, with an outstanding score for this edition by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. The 1927 Chicago was long believed a lost film, but a perfect print survived in Cecil B. DeMille’s private collection. Restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in 2006, it has since been widely performed to rapturous audiences.
Sexy, jazz-loving and dressed to kill, Roxie Hart (Phyllis Haver) has a doting, handsome husband in Victor Varconi; not to mention a gold-digging affair on the side with Eugene Pallette, who pays and pays, eventually with his life. Put on trial for murder, Roxie secures lawyer Billy Flynn (Robert Edeson), equal part mob “mouthpiece” and publicity agent. When Roxie hits the headlines, the courtroom theatrics begin.
Starring: Phyllis Haver, Robert Edeson
Directed By: Cecil B. DeMille
Written By: Lenore J. Coffee
Score By: Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Language: Silent with English Intertitles
Video: 480i Standard Definition / 1.33:1 / Black and White
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Theatrical Release: 1927
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Region Code: Region 0 (All Regions)
Special Features: Chicago: The Roxie Hart: A special documentary supplement by Jeffrey Masino and Silas Lesnick based on research by David Pierce, The Golden Twenties (1950): A documentary feature produced by The March of Time from authentic footage of the era, Oscar-winning Lauren Lanzin's The Flapper Story (1985): Several self-declared children of the roaring twenties look back across the decades on their youthful lives, - 20 Page Booklet: Booklet includes an essay by Thomas Pauly on author Maurine Watkins and the factual background of Chicago, notes by Robert S. Birchard, author of Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood.