“You know, all my life I wanted to have my own act. But noooo, no, no, no! It’s always no. They always turned me down. One big world full of no! And then Cindy came along. Safe, sweet, Cindy, who never says no. Oh, I’ve never done this before, but you know, it is such a special day & you’re such a great group of readers! And, and, I just really feel like I can talk to you, you know? I’m gonna tell you the truth. Not that the truth really matters, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. When ya meet the right girl, yer priorities change. So I decided to get a job – a real job for a real company in a real city. You know, Hell on Earth! Then I met Joe Steps, who said he’d get me into The Insurance Company.” So he hired me. Steps: Funny name for a guy that used to walk all over me, huh? “But that didn’t quite work out like I planned. I guess it didn’t really work out too great for Steps either”, since he was laid off back in ‘96. I outlasted him by 15 years. You see, the insurance industry is staffed mainly with dames. I guess I lasted so long because I’m more in touch with my feminine side. Ya know, I always wanted to be a girl! I could shave my legs nice & smooth and wear those hot outfits like those chicks in that Rob Marshall movie, Chicago. You ever see it? I’d be smart & pretty & sexy! “And ALL…THAT…JAZZ!!”
Today’s Classic Movie Blog is on Rob Marshall’s 2002 musical, Chicago, won 6 Oscars at the 73rd Academy Awards including Best Picture and was nominated for 7 more. It’s the Roaring 20’s Chicago, and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) will do anything to get into vaudeville, including cheat on her husband, simple & non-descript Amos (John C. Reilly). One night, her lover Fred (Dominic West) took her to a vaudeville show to see Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones). He’d been promising to make her a star. Roxie fantasizes that she’s Velma then takes Fred home to her place. After he uses her, he tells her that she has no talent & ends the affair. Roxie puts an end to Fred & is arrested for murder. She meets Velma – who killed her husband & sister when she catches them in bed after her show – on Murderess’ Row. The cell block is run by Mama (Queen Latifah), who takes bribes to get her girls a meeting with “razzle-dazzle” defense attorney Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), who’s never lost a case. The film was adapted from Bob Fosse’s 1975 Broadway play. Fosse’s piece was adapted from Maurine Watkins’ 1926 Broadway play about Buelah Annan & Belva Gaertner, who were both arrested for & acquitted of murder in Spring 1924. Roxie’s character is based on Belva, who killed her lover on 3/11/24 & was arrested the next day.
Vaudeville began with the late 17th century Paris’ Vaudeville Comedy & was very popular in America from the 1880’s thru the early ‘30’s. The American variety shows were an assemblage unrelated acts including musicians, strippers, comics, singers, dancers, whatever. The word is likely from the French voix de ville (voice of the city). The high cost of live entertainment compared to the new-fangled talkies during the Depression by killed the genre. Some vaudevillians who made the jump to film: Al Jolson; W.C. Fields; Mae West; the Marx Brothers; Buster Keaton; Charlie Chaplin; and, of course, Laurel & Hardy. For more on vaudevillians in the movies, check out the Sons of the Desert’s monthly The Laurel & Hardy Cinema at the fabulous Vazzy’s in Bridgeport. So watch the trailer below then add Rob Marshall’s homage to vaudeville, Chicago, to your Netflix queue. It will “razzle-dazzle” ya! 4 Stars!