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Roxie Hart

Roxie Hart (1942), starring Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, George Chandler

Synopsis of Roxie Hart

After her husband shoots a burglar in their apartment, Roxie Hart (Ginger Rogers) is talked into pretending she did it by a newsman and a theatrical agent who promise to sign her for a vaudeville tour. Realizing she’ll become a household name overnight, Roxie agrees and becomes the center of an outrageous trial.

Review of Roxie Hart

In short, Roxie Hart is a very funny comedy.  It pokes fun at “journalism”, and the public that laps up their lies/exaggerations like cats with milk.  It pokes fun at the legal system.  And it pokes fun at entertainerss, and how they’ll use anything for publicity.  Even murder.

It sounds like a dark comedy, but it really isn’t.  It’s very enjoyable, and borders on becoming a musical.  One of the funniest, most outrageous scenes is with Roxie dancing on top of a table.  In the jail.  With the newspapermen and women joining in.  There’s a reason that this was remade as the musical Chicago.

Roxie Hart is both fun and funny, and highly recommended.  I rate it four stars – enjoy!

Cast of characters in Roxie Hart

  • Ginger Rogers as Roxie Hart in prisonRoxie Hart (Ginger RogersThe Major and the Minor).  Roxie is the dancer at the center of a murder case.  Who is willing to plead guilty to a murder charge to advance her career.  And the madness begins …  Ginger Rogers had an absolute gift for comedy, and it’s on full display here.
  • Amos Hart (George ChandlerThe High and Mighty).  Roxie’s husband, who initially admits to the murder.  But he recants when he realizes that Roxie was trying to start a dancing career.  And, for comedy, the press ignores him repeatedly.
  • Adolphe Menjou and Ginger Rogers in Roxie HartBilly Flynn (Adolphe MenjouLittle Miss Marker).  Flynn is an unscrupulous, publicity-seeking lawyer who can’t see any way for Roxie to be convicted.  Until …
  • Homer Howard (George MontgomerySamar).  The naive, honest newspaperman, who begins falling in love with Roxie.  As time goes on, he becomes more of a central character.  And he narrates the entire film in flashback.
  • Jake Callahan (Lynne OvermanUnion Pacific).  The unscrupulous “journalist” who encourages Roxie to plead guilty to the murder.  Not knowing, or caring, if she’s guilty or not.  All he cares about are the papers that the story will sell.
  • E. Clay Benham (Nigel BruceTerror By Night).  The dead man’s partner, who takes the opportunity to sign Roxie to a contract.  Also not caring about her guilt or innocence, only what he can gain from the publicity.
  • Babe (Phil SilversA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum).  A minor but funny appearance as the newspaper photographer.
  • O’Malley (William FrawleyI Love Lucy).  The bartender at the beginning of the film, who also becomes important in the flashback.  No spoilers!

Editorial review of Roxie Hart courtesy of Amazon.com

Ginger Rogers as Roxie Hart sitting on a chair in a publicity photoThis 1942 satirical comedy stars Ginger Rogers as the title character, who agrees to be accused of murder so the publicity will advance her dancing career. Whether she actually committed the crime is irrelevant to the reporters, who fall all over themselves to give Roxie her 15 minutes of fame (well, this compact movie is actually 75 minutes long). Adolphe Menjou costars as the blustery defense lawyer who sees no possibility of losing, and George Chandler plays the meek husband left in Roxie’s dust. Among the highlights are the judge, lawyers, and client primping for every photo opportunity, and Rogers’s nostalgic tap dance on a metal prison staircase. Roxie Hart was based on the play Chicago, which later became the basis for the Bob Fosse musical with Gwen Verdon (and then Ann Reinking in the 1997 revival) in the Rogers role. –David Horiuchi

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