Chicago

Chicago (PG)

USA, 1927, Dir. Frank Urson

Festival of the Future City/
Sun 17 November 2019

Chicago (PG)

USA, 1927, Dir. Frank Urson

Chicago
Sun 17 November 2019,

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. But Frank Urson’s 1927 film is far more than just a standard adaptation set within the jazz era of gangster-land Chicago.

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.

A terrifically entertaining mix of humour, sex, death and melodrama, as well as a pungent critique of trash journalism, Urson’s film establishes the city of Chicago as one of the most dangerous and yet exciting cities to live in 1920s America.

Live piano musical accompaniment by John Sweeney. With thanks to Lobster Films, Paris.

This film is part of Festival of the Future City – an initiative of Festival of Ideas. Festival of the Future City takes place every two years in Bristol celebrating and debating the future of cities with talks, walks, debates, arts projects and new books. The 2019 Festival of the Future City includes classic utopian films about cities; cities in silent cinema; documentaries on New Towns, democracy, the housing crisis and the anthropocene in the series: Cities, Future Cities and Film. We are grateful to BFI for their support for this programme. See the full film programme here.

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Further details of the 2019 Festival of the Future City programme are here.

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