The DVD Chicago came to me from my husband’s mother, Dolores. After I watched this flashy musical at home the other night (I’d already seen it in the theater when it came out in 2002), my husband commented that his mother used to practically beg him to watch it with her, and told him he didn’t know what he was missing. She really enjoyed Chicago and wanted everyone else to enjoy it with her.
I loved seeing this again. My husband commented that he likes South Pacific better, as the songs are more musical, tunes you’d like to whistle or lyrics you’d like to sing aloud. Chicago I admit is a bit louder and a bit raunchy. After all, it’s about women who murder their husbands and lovers. It’s also about show business, how fleeting fame can be, and the fickleness of the public who latch onto anyone involved in a scandal for entertainment, no matter how gruesome.
The film is rated PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements. It won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.
For me, one of the biggest pleasures are the dance numbers. Originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, they are exciting and memorable. My favorite is the Cell Block Tango, “he had it comin’ …” Any woman who’s been wronged by her man can get a little vicarious enjoyment out of these women telling their stories. Exaggerated scenarios yes, but true to human nature where jealousy and anger aren’t let go of so easily.
Chicago was based on two women accused of killing their lovers in 1924. As is typical of Hollywood, there are no other resemblances aside from this inspiration for the characters.
Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) is a wannabee entertainer who shoots her low-down lying lover when he doesn’t deliver on the promise he made to get her on that stage. Her husband Amos (John C. Reilly) is a long-suffering simple man, very well cast. Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is successful on the stage until she ends up in the women’s prison for killing her sister and husband.
When Roxie ends up in the cellblock too, they start to compete for attention from the press, enlisting the assistance of Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), an attorney who sets out to gain the public’s sympathy for Roxie. Who knew Richard Gere could actually tap dance? He does a great job. Queen Latifah is wonderful as Mama Morton, the not so honest matron of the women’s cellblock. Other notable actors are Taye Diggs as the bandleader, and Christine Baranski as the reporter Mary Sunshine.
It would be dynamic seeing Chicago on stage; I don’t know if it tours anymore. Live theater and dance are like nothing else, but if you can’t see it at your performing arts center, second best is on your screen at home. I’m keeping this DVD. Thanks, Dolores.