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HISTORY

Copyright notice on the film reads "Copyright MCMXXVII," although the registration date is 6 Feb 1928.
       Chicago was the last and most prominent film credited as being directed by Frank Urson (1887--1928), who was best known for his work as a photographer, then assistant director on many pictures produced in the 1910s and 1920s, most notably for Cecil B. DeMille. After completing Chicago , Urson again worked as an assistant director to DeMille on The Godless Girl (see entry), but drowned in Indian Lake, MI on 17 Aug 1928, shortly before that film's opening.
       In the January 1928 issue of Photoplay magazine, Edwin and Elza Schallert wrote: "It has been done with secrecy, but facts will out. Cecil B. DeMille is directing "Chicago," the film based on the famous stage satire on the farcical way in which murder trials are sometimes conducted. DeMille's name, however, probably won't be mentioned on the screen when the picture is released, except as general supervisor."
       According to production records in the Cecil B. DeMille collection in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, Frank Urson is listed as director on the first day of principal photography. DeMille is listed as director by the seventh day of production, and also directed eleven days of retakes for the film.
       This film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in 2006 from Cecil B. DeMille's personal nitrate print. The restored version is slightly longer than the general release version.
       Information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library confirm that the Hays Office objected ... More Less

Copyright notice on the film reads "Copyright MCMXXVII," although the registration date is 6 Feb 1928.
       Chicago was the last and most prominent film credited as being directed by Frank Urson (1887--1928), who was best known for his work as a photographer, then assistant director on many pictures produced in the 1910s and 1920s, most notably for Cecil B. DeMille. After completing Chicago , Urson again worked as an assistant director to DeMille on The Godless Girl (see entry), but drowned in Indian Lake, MI on 17 Aug 1928, shortly before that film's opening.
       In the January 1928 issue of Photoplay magazine, Edwin and Elza Schallert wrote: "It has been done with secrecy, but facts will out. Cecil B. DeMille is directing "Chicago," the film based on the famous stage satire on the farcical way in which murder trials are sometimes conducted. DeMille's name, however, probably won't be mentioned on the screen when the picture is released, except as general supervisor."
       According to production records in the Cecil B. DeMille collection in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, Frank Urson is listed as director on the first day of principal photography. DeMille is listed as director by the seventh day of production, and also directed eleven days of retakes for the film.
       This film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in 2006 from Cecil B. DeMille's personal nitrate print. The restored version is slightly longer than the general release version.
       Information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library confirm that the Hays Office objected to profanity in the film's subtitles and to an excessive display of "girls' legs" in the jail fight scene. Although some eliminations were suggested, the objectionable material was retained in the print viewed. Letters in the file suggest that several states eliminated some scenes before exhibition and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia rejected the film as a "low moral type of picture."
       Maurine Watkins' play was also the basis for the 1942 Twentieth Century-Fox production, Roxie Hart, and the 2003 musical Chicago released by Miramax (see entries). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
1 Jan 1928.
---
New York Times
24 Dec 1927
p. 9.
Photoplay
Jan 1928.
---
Variety
28 Dec 1927
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
From the play Chicago written by Maurine Watkins and produced by Sam H. Harris (New York, 30 Dec 1926).
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 March 1928
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 December 1927
Production Date:
20 September--10 November 1927
Copyright Claimant:
Pathé Exchange, inc.
Copyright Date:
6 February 1928
Copyright Number:
LP24955
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
102
Length(in feet):
9,145
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Chicago cigar stand owner Amos Hart, the husband of thoughtless, self-centered Roxie, thinks she is the most wonderful girl in the world. Unknown to the easy-going Amos, Roxie has been having an affair with one of his customers, automobile salesman Casely. After Casely becomes disenchanted with Roxie and her spendthrift ways, he tells her they are through, then roughly throws her to the floor when she pleads with him not to leave her. As he walks out the door of the Hartses's apartment, Roxie picks up Amos' gun and shoots at Casely, killing him when a bullet penetrates the door. Panicked, Roxie calls Amos and tells him that she shot a burglar. When the police arrive, Amos tries to protect Roxie, even though he has found one of Roxie's garters in Casely's pocket, and signs a confession saying that he killed Casely. When the assistant district attorney separates the couple, though, he tricks Roxie by lying that Amos has placed the blame on her, causing her to incriminate herself in an angry outburst. As the police take Roxie away, a reporter assures her that with her looks she can get away with murder and promises to help publicize her case. Soon all of Chicago is reading about the glamorous Roxie, much to her delight. The long-suffering Amos soon hires famed attorney William "Billy" Flynn to defend her but when he can only raise $2,500 of Flynn's $5,000 fee, Amos sneaks into Flynn's house and steals a large amount of cash from Flynn's secret hiding place. Although he gets away following an encounter with Flynn's butler, a cheap pocket watch, ... +


Chicago cigar stand owner Amos Hart, the husband of thoughtless, self-centered Roxie, thinks she is the most wonderful girl in the world. Unknown to the easy-going Amos, Roxie has been having an affair with one of his customers, automobile salesman Casely. After Casely becomes disenchanted with Roxie and her spendthrift ways, he tells her they are through, then roughly throws her to the floor when she pleads with him not to leave her. As he walks out the door of the Hartses's apartment, Roxie picks up Amos' gun and shoots at Casely, killing him when a bullet penetrates the door. Panicked, Roxie calls Amos and tells him that she shot a burglar. When the police arrive, Amos tries to protect Roxie, even though he has found one of Roxie's garters in Casely's pocket, and signs a confession saying that he killed Casely. When the assistant district attorney separates the couple, though, he tricks Roxie by lying that Amos has placed the blame on her, causing her to incriminate herself in an angry outburst. As the police take Roxie away, a reporter assures her that with her looks she can get away with murder and promises to help publicize her case. Soon all of Chicago is reading about the glamorous Roxie, much to her delight. The long-suffering Amos soon hires famed attorney William "Billy" Flynn to defend her but when he can only raise $2,500 of Flynn's $5,000 fee, Amos sneaks into Flynn's house and steals a large amount of cash from Flynn's secret hiding place. Although he gets away following an encounter with Flynn's butler, a cheap pocket watch, which he bought to replace a gold watch he had to pawn to raise money for Roxie's defense, is accidentally left behind. Flynn is suspicious when Amos pays the rest of his fee the next day but cannot prove that Amos is the thief. As Roxie's trial begins, her case has become the talk of Chicago, attracting hundreds of spectators to the courthouse. Under Flynn's tutelage, Roxie feigns innocence and virtue, all the while attracting the eyes of the all-male jury with her blonde curls and raised skirts. Despite the frustrated district attorney's attempts to have the case determined on the evidence, Flynn's impassioned pleas and Roxie's dramatics convince the jury to acquit her. When the verdict is reached, Roxie basks in the attention, until another woman grabs the spotlight when she shoots a man in the courthouse. When Roxie and Amos return home, they are greeted by two police detectives who have been looking for Flynn's stolen money. Unknown to Amos, Katie, a sweet-natured maid in their building, has found the money in a broken flower pot and hidden it. When the detectives then demand to see the pocket watch that Amos bought, the same model as the one the thief left at Flynn's, Katie overhears them and enters the apartment with a similar watch that she bought with coupons Amos had given her a short time before. With no evidence linking Amos to the crime, the detectives leave, after which Katie gives him the money she found. After Katie leaves, Roxie tries to take the money but Amos finally puts his foot down and throws the money into the burning fireplace, saying that it is unclean money used by Flynn to keep guilty men from the gallows. When the money is completely burned, Amos then throws Roxie out of the apartment, after which he destroys many of her things, including her framed picture. On the rainy street, Roxie is sobered by seeing a newspaper bearing a headline about her acquittal being stepped on by passersby until it finally is swept into a gutter. She walks off alone in the rain, just as Katie goes to Amos and lovingly begins to tidy up his apartment. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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