Saturday, January 8, 2011

My kind of town

You probably remember the recent Oscar-winning movie Chicago. Younger people probably think of it as being based on a musical, but in fact, it's a movie adaptation of a musical that is itself an adaptation, of a Broadway play of the mid-1920s. That play got two more-or-less non-musical adaptations. The first was as a little-seen silent (also named Chicago) in 1927. The second was given the name of its main character: Roxie Hart, and is airing tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM ET on the Fox Movie Channel.

Roxie is played by Ginger Rogers and is a struggling actress in 1920s Chicago. She wants to make a name for herself, so when her husband shoots an intruder, she's insistent that she'll take the rap. Of course, once she tries to plead guilty, she actually has to go on trial and get off, so that she can resume her career as an actress. After all, the trial is only so she can become famous, not so she can actually go to jail! It's up to lawyer Adolphe Menjou to get her off. Needless to say, there are some folks out there in the press who have an idea what's going on, led by George Montgomery, who also tells the story in flashback. But, since you know the story of Chicago, you probably know the basic story of Roxie Hart already.

To be honest, this isn't my favorite Ginger Rogers movie. She's just too wacky and irritating here. She's great when she can be elegant with Fred Astaire. She proved she could act in Kitty Foyle, where she gives a good performance and won an Oscar, even if there are a bunch of other reasons why I don't particularly care for that movie. (That, however, is a topic for a different post.) And Rogers had already long since shown she could do comedy. After all, there are comic elements in 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, but she had actually starred in out-and-out comedies like Rafter Romance already. Still, there's something about the Roxie Hart character here that's just all wrong and not so sympathetic. And it's a bit of a shame, since the story is a good one, and there are lots of great character actors showing up.

Still, if you're a fan of Ginger Rogers, or if you enjoyed the movie Chicago and want to see one of the non-musical versions of it, you'll probably like Roxie Hart. It's gotten a DVD release, too.

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