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  Phyllis Haver.
Photograph: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences;
courtesy The San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
(1927) American
B&W : Nine reels / 9145 feet
Directed by Frank Urson

Cast: Phyllis Haver [Roxie Hart], Victor Varconi [Amos Hart, her husband], Robert Edeson [William Flynn, the defense attorney], Virginia Bradford [Katie, the housemaid], Eugene Pallette [Rodney Casely, the murdered man], Warner Richmond [the assistant district attorney], T. Roy Barnes [Jake, the newspaper reporter], Clarence Burton [the police sergeant], Julia Faye [Velma Kelly, the ‘real lady’ inmate], May Robson [Mrs. Morton, the jail matron], Viola Louie [‘Two Gun’ Rosie]; Sidney D’Albrook [the crime scene photographer], Sidney Bracey [the debt collector], George Kuwa [Flynn’s butler], Walter Long [Flynn’s cynical visitor], Jim Farley [one of Flynn’s henchmen], Robert Brower [a juror], Hector Sarno [a juror], Robert Dudley [the insurance agent], Edward Peil (Sr.) [a sketch artist], Josephine Norman, [?] ? [the robbery detective], [?] ? [the second detective], [?] ? [‘Charleston Lou,’ a jail inmate], [?] ? [Teresa, a jail inmate], [?] ? [the piano-playing inmate], [?] ? [the piano dancer, a jail inmate], [?] ? [the amused jail guard], [?] ? [the pawnshop owner], Otto Lederer [Meyer, Amos’ business partner (edited from final release)]

DeMille Pictures Corporation production; distributed by Pathé Exchange, Incorporated. / Screen play (scenario) by Lenore J. Coffee, from the adaptation by Lenore J. Coffee of the play Chicago by Maurine Watkins. Production manager, E.O. Gurney. Settings (production design) by J.M. Leisen (Mitchell Leisen). Costume design by Adrian (Gilbert Adrian). Set decoration by Ray Moyer. Assistant director, Roy Burns. Photography (cinematography) by Peverell Marley (J. Peverell Marley). Intertitles by John Krafft (John W. Krafft). Film editor, Anne Bauchens. Presented by Pathé Exchange, Incorporated. / © 6 February 1928 by DeMille Pictures Corporation [LP24955]. Premiered 23 December 1927 in New York, New York. General release, 4 March 1929. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format. / Silent film.


Synopsis: Synopsis available in AFI-F2 n. F2.0854.

Reviews: [Photoplay, February 1928, page 53] The story of a girl, Roxie Hart (played by Phyllis Haver), who was all wrong . . . not a redeeming characteristic. Briefly, the story of a married woman, who is not satisfied with what her husband can give her, and selects herself a man on the side to furnish the luxuries. When this man tires of her, she kills him. The husband (Victor Varconi) would take the blame, but the law tries her for the murder. To Roxie Hart, being featured as “Chicago’s most beautiful murderer” was worth anything. It mattered not that her husband had to sacrifice, borrow and steal to raise money for her defense. / Never for a moment is she played for sympathy and yet she is so beautiful that you never want to see her suffer — even when she is cruel, when she is selfish, when she cheats her husband, and even when she commits murder. / Lenore Coffee has done a beautiful piece of work in adapting this play for the screen, and Cecil De Mill’s supervision is evident throughout the picture. Frank Urson’s direction needs commendation, too. Victor Varconi does his very best work, and that in a very difficult rôle. / Robert Edeson, as Defense Attorney, T. Roy Barnes as a reporter, Gene Pallette as the man she killed, May Robson as the matron, Virginia Bradford, Josephine Norman and others do work worthy of mention, but, after all, the picture belongs to Phyllis Haver, who gives a marvelous characterization. We agree with Mr. De Mille that she is his greatest “find” since Gloria Swanson. Of course, nobody will miss seeing “Chicago.”

Survival status: Prints exist in the UCLA Film and Television Archive film archive [35mm preservation negative, 35mm preservation positive].

Current rights holder: (unknown)

Keywords: Crime: Murder, Theft - Death: Murder - Domestics: Maids - Fights - Infidelity - Law: Judicial: Attorneys, Lawyers, Trials - Musical instruments: Pianos (Player pianos) - Pawnshops - Telephones - Tobacco: Cigars, Tobacco shops - USA: Illinois: Chicago - Weapons: Guns: Handguns

Listing updated: 7 July 2010.

References: Film credits, film viewing : AFI-F2 n. F2.0854; Everson-American p. 206; Vermilye-Twenties p. 24 : Photoplay-192802 p. 53 : Website-AFI; Website-IMDb.

Home video: DVD.

Silent Era Home Page  >  PSFL  >  Chicago (1927)



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