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Preservation funded by The Cecil B. DeMille Foundation

Chicago (1928)

Chicago (1928)
August 16, 2006 - 8:00 pm

Presented with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

This screening will take place at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets are $5 and are available in advance, either in person during regular business hours at the Academy's offices or through the mail. For more information, call the Academy at (370) 247-3000 or visit

Directed by Frank Urson

Maurine Watkins' 1926 play "Chicago" was based on the pithy, humorous articles she wrote for the "Chicago Tribune" about two murderesses, Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan. Both women were accused of killing their lovers in cold blood, giving Watkins plenty of juicy material. In one interview, Gaertner tartly observed, "Gin and guns—either one is bad enough but together they get you in a dickens of a mess."

In this first film version of Watkins' play a vivacious Phyllis Haver plays Roxie Hart, the spoiled flapper who'd rather party all night than wait at home for her adoring husband, Amos. When Roxie's sugar daddy (Eugene Pallette) tries to give her the air, she pumps him full of lead and winds up on the infamous "murderess row" awaiting trial. Her only chance for acquittal is the mercenary lawyer, Billy Flynn, who is particularly skilled at saving the necks of trigger-happy young women. Flynn paints the "jazz slayer" as a virtuous girl overcome by the sin and speakeasies of the big city. With the help of Flynn and the scandal sheets, Roxie becomes a media darling and her sensational trial. a city-wide spectacle.

This first and only silent version of "Chicago" was produced by De Mille Pictures (director Frank Urson was a Chicago native and frequent assistant director to Cecil B. DeMille) and retains much of the playwright's wit and ribald humor. Two subsequent versions of Watkins' play have been filmed: William Wellman's Roxie Hart (1942) starring Ginger Rogers, and Rob Marshall's multi-Oscar-winning Chicago (2002), based on the 1975 Bob Fosse musical.

–Mimi Brody

This evening will feature live musical accompaniment by Johnny Crawford and His Orchestra.

De Mille Pictures Scenarist: Lenore J. Coffee Based on the play "Chicago" by Maurine Dallas Watkins Cinematographer: Peverell Marley Editor: Anne Bauchens Cast: Phyllis Haver, Victor Varconi, Eugene Pallette, Virginia Bradford

35mm, silent, 120 min.

Preserved from Cecil B. DeMille's personal 35mm nitrate print. Laboratory services by Triage Motion Picture Services. Special thanks to: Cecilia deMille Presley.

Preceded by:

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation

Movie Lovers Contest, No. 2 (1926)

35mm, silent, tinted, 2 min.

Preserved from a 35mm nitrate print. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory.

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation and The Silent Society of Hollywood Heritage, Inc.

Movie Night (1929)

Directed by Lewis R. Foster

Scripted by Leo MacCarey, Movie Night is one of Charley Chase's best-loved comedy shorts, as well as his last silent two-reeler. Chase stars as the paterfamilias on an outing, with Edith Fellows as his daughter afflicted with hiccups.

Hal Roach Studios/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Cast: Charley Chase, Eugenie Gilbert, Spec O'Donnell, Edith Fellows, Tiny Sandford, Harry Semels. 35mm, silent, 20 min.

Preserved by the UClA Film & Television Archive and the Academy Film Archive, in cooperation with Film Preservation Associates, from the incomplete 35mm nitrate original negative and a 16mm fine grain master positive. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Title House Digital. Special thanks to: David Shepard.