Chicago (2002 film)

Chicago (2002 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Marshall
Produced by
Written by
Cinematography Dion Beebe
Editing by Martin Walsh
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) December 27, 2002 (2002-12-27)
Running time 113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45,000,000
Box office $306,776,732[1]

Chicago is a 2002 musical film adapted from the satirical stage musical of the same name, exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Jazz-age Chicago.[2]

Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, and adapted by screenwriter Bill Condon, Chicago won six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. The film was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1969.

Chicago centers on Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, two criminals-of-passion who find themselves awaiting their trials for murder in 1920s Chicago. Velma, a vaudevillian, and Roxie, a housewife with aspirations of having the same profession, fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows. The film stars Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta-Jones also featuring Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, and Mýa Harrison.



Chicago, circa 1924. Naïve Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) visits a nightclub, where star Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) performs ("All That Jazz"), with Fred Casely (Dominic West), a lover she hopes will get her a vaudeville gig. After the show, Velma is arrested for killing her husband and sister, Veronica, after finding them in bed together. Later, Fred reveals that he lied about his connections in order to sleep with her, at which point Roxie, in a fit of rage, shoots Fred three times, killing him. Roxie convinces her husband, Amos (John C. Reilly), to take the blame, telling him it was a burglar and that he needn't worry, he'll get off. When the officer points out that the victim is Fred Casely, who sold the Harts furniture, Amos abandons his lie and says Casely was dead when he got home ("Funny Honey"). Roxie is sent to Cook County Jail.

Upon her arrival, she is sent to Murderess' Row to await trial — under the care of the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah), who takes bribes and supplies her prisoners with cigarettes and contraband ("When You're Good to Mama"). Roxie meets Velma, and learns the backstories of the other women in Murderess' Row ("Cell Block Tango"). Roxie decides that she wants to engage Velma's lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) ("All I Care About"), and convinces her husband to talk to him. Flynn and Roxie manipulate the press at a press conference, reinventing Roxie's identity to make Chicago fall in love with her ("We Both Reached for the Gun"). Roxie becomes the new infamous celebrity of the Cook County Jail ("Roxie"), much to Velma's disgust and Mama's delight. Velma, desperate to get back into the limelight, tries to talk Roxie into opening a vaudeville act with her once they get out of jail ("I Can't Do It Alone"). Seeking revenge for an earlier mocking, Roxie haughtily refuses, and Roxie and Velma become locked in a rivalry to outshine each other.

After an heiress (Lucy Liu) is arrested for a triple homicide (she killed her husband and the two women in bed with him), Roxie finds herself ignored by the paparazzi and neglected by Flynn. After being told by Velma that her name isn't in the paper, Roxie manages to steal back the limelight by claiming to be pregnant, which is confirmed by a doctor, whom it is implied she seduced. As paparazzi chase Roxie, Amos remains ignored ("Mister Cellophane"). Roxie witnesses the execution by hanging of another inmate (who was falsely accused) after losing her last appeal, which fuels Roxie's desire to be free. Roxie and Billy design their scheme to prove her innocence, by using her star power and sympathy vote. Her trial becomes a media spectacle ("Razzle Dazzle"), fed on the sensationalist reports of newspaper reporter and radio personality, Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski). The trial goes Roxie's way till Velma, who has secured Roxie's diary, makes a deal with the prosecutor to drop all charges against her in exchange for testifying against Roxie. As promised, Velma shows up with Roxie's diary and reads incriminating entries which Roxie claims not to have written. Using some quick talking, Billy manages to get Roxie off the hook. However, Roxie's publicity is short-lived: as soon as the trial concludes, the public's attention turns quickly to a new murderess. Roxie leaves the courthouse after discovering that Billy wrote the false diary entries, and actually it was Billy, who arranged for the diary testimony so that Velma gets off the hook too. Roxie reveals to Amos she faked her pregnancy for the fame. It is implied, but never stated, that Amos leaves her at this point.

With nothing left, Roxie once more sets off to find a stage career, with little success ("Nowadays"). However, she is soon approached by Velma, also down on her luck, who is willing to revive a two-person act with Roxie. Roxie refuses at first, still not over the hate they shared for each other while in prison, but relents when Velma points out that "there's only one business in the world where that's not a problem at all" - show business. The two murderesses, no longer facing jail time, finally become the enormous successes they have been longing to be ("Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag"). The film concludes with Roxie and Velma receiving a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience that includes Mama and Billy.


  • Renée Zellweger as Roxanne "Roxie" Hart; a housewife who aspires to be a vaudevillian.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly; a showgirl, arrested for the murders of her husband and her sister.
  • Richard Gere as Billy Flynn; a treacherous, smooth-talking lawyer who turns his clients into celebrities to gain public support for them.
  • Queen Latifah as Matron "Mama" Morton; the corrupt matron of the Cook County Jail.
  • John C. Reilly as Amos Hart; Roxie's naïve, simple-minded, but devoted husband.
  • Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine; an overtrusting reporter who only highlights the good in people (a role originally intended to be played by a man in drag).
  • Taye Diggs as The Bandleader; a shadowy, mystical master of ceremonies who introduces each song.
  • Lucy Liu as Kitty Baxter; a millionaire heiress who briefly outshone Velma and Roxie when she killed her husband and two mistresses.
  • Dominic West as Frederick "Fred" Casely; Roxie's deceitful lover and murder victim.
  • Colm Feore as Harrison; the prosecutor in both Roxie and Velma's court cases.
  • Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. Borusewicz; the Harts neighbor from across the hall.
  • Chita Rivera as Nicky
  • Susan Misner, Denise Faye, Deidre Goodwin, Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, and Mýa Harrison as The Merry Murderesses (Liz, Annie, June, the Hunyak, and Mona)
  • Ken Ard as Wilbur; one of the murdered husbands.

Musical numbers

  1. "Overture/All That Jazz" – Velma, Company
  2. "Funny Honey" – Roxie
  3. "When You're Good to Mama" – Mama
  4. "Cell Block Tango" – Velma, Cell Block Girls
  5. "All I Care About" – Billy, Chorus Girls
  6. "We Both Reached For The Gun" – Billy, Roxie, Mary, Reporters
  7. "Roxie" – Roxie, Chorus Boys
  8. "I Can't Do It Alone" – Velma
  9. "Mister Cellophane" – Amos
  10. "Razzle Dazzle" – Billy, Company
  11. "Class" – Velma and Mama (This song, performed by Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was filmed, but it was cut from the film. The scene was later included on the DVD release and the film's broadcast television premiere on NBC in 2005, and the song was included on the soundtrack album.)
  12. "Nowadays" – Roxie
  13. "Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag" – Roxie, Velma
  14. "I Move On" – Roxie and Velma (over the end credits)
  15. "All That Jazz (reprise)" - Velma, Company
  16. "Exit Music" - Instrumental


File:Costumes from Chicago.jpg
Dresses worn by Roxie, Velma and Mama Morton

The film is based on the 1975 Kander and Ebb Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on the Maurine Watkins play, Chicago. That original play was in turn based on the stories of two real-life Jazz-era killers, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. The same story was adapted into William Wellman's 1942 film Roxie Hart, starring Ginger Rogers as Roxie and Adolphe Menjou as Billy.

The original 1975 Broadway production was not well-received by audiences, primarily due to the show's cynical tone. However, the minimalist 1996 revival was much more successful, still running on Broadway in 2011, and the influences of both productions can be seen in the film version. The original production's musical numbers were staged as vaudeville acts; the film respects this but presents them in a cutaway form, while scenes that take place in "real life" have a hard-edged realism.

A film version of Chicago was to have been the next project for legendary stage and film choreographer and director Bob Fosse, who directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production. Though he died before this film was made, his distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout. In particular, the parallels to Cabaret (1972) are numerous and distinct. He is thanked in the film's credits.

Chicago was produced by American companies Miramax Films and The Producers Circle in association with the German company Kallis Productions. Chicago was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The courthouse scene was shot in Osgoode Hall. Other scenes were filmed at Queen's Park, former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, Casa Loma, the Elgin Theatre, Union Station, the Canada Life Building, the Danforth Music Hall, and at the Old City Hall. All vocal coaching for the film was led by Toronto-based Elaine Overholt, whom Richard Gere thanked personally during his Golden Globe acceptance speech.

Release and reception

Chicago was received with very positive reviews and universal acclaim. On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds an 87% approval rating;[3] Roger Ebert called it "Big, brassy fun".[4] On Metacritic, the film averaged a critical score of 82 (indicating "universal acclaim").[5]

This musical-turned-film received widespread attention from overseas and was even labeled as "The best screen musical for 30 years," by Tim Robey, writer for the Telegraph in the United Kingdom. He also states that it has taken a "three-step tango for us to welcome back the movie musical as a form." Rob Marshall's film has also been labeled as one of the most enjoyable pictures of its kind since Fosse`s Cabaret of 1972. This particular Chicago makes the most prolific use it possibly can out of one specific advantage the cinema has over the stage when it comes to song and dance: "it's a sustained celebration of parallel montage." [6]

Other reviews claimed that there were issues with the film being too streamlined, and minor complaints were made toward Marshall's directing influences. AMC Filmcritic Sean O'Connell explains in his review of the film that "All That Jazz", "Funny Honey", and "Cell Block Tango" play out much like you'd expect them to on stage, with little enhancement (or subsequent interference) from the camera. But by the time "Razzle Dazzle" comes around, all of these concerns are diminished.[7]

Box office

The film grossed $170,687,518 in the United States and Canada, as well $136,089,214 in other territories. Combined, the film grossed $306,403,013 worldwide, which was, at the time, the highest gross of any film never to reach #1 or #2 in the weekly box office charts in the North American markets (Canada and United States—where it peaked at #3). This record has since been outdone by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.[8]

Home release

Chicago was released on DVD in Region 1 (USA, Canada, and US territories) on August 19, 2003. It was released in Full Screen and Widescreen. In addition to this release, a two-disc "Razzle Dazzle" Edition was released over two years later on December 20, 2005, and later, on Blu-ray format, in January 2007. Miramax was the label responsible for the production of the DVDs and the discs themselves provide a feature-length audio commentary track with director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon. There's also a deleted musical number called "Class," performed by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah.

Awards and nominations

Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards[9][10]
Best Picture Martin Richards Won
Best Actress Renee Zellweger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John C. Reilly Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Best Supporting Actress Queen Latifah Nominated
Best Director Rob Marshall Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Bill Condon Nominated
Best Cinematography Dion Beebe Nominated
Best Art Direction John Myhre Won
Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Won
Best Film Editing Martin Walsh Won
Best Sound Mixing Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella and David Lee Won
Best Original Song John Kander (for "I Move On") Nominated
BAFTA Awards[11]
Best Film Nominated
Best Actress Renee Zellweger Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Best Supporting Actress Queen Latifah Nominated
David Lean Award for Direction Rob Marshall Nominated
Best Cinematography Dion Beebe Nominated
Best Production Design John Myhre Nominated
Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Nominated
Best Make Up and Hair Judi Cooper-Sealy Nominated
Best Editing Martin Walsh Nominated
Best Sound Michael Minkler, David Lee, and Dominick Tavella Won
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Danny Elfman Nominated
Golden Globes[12]
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actor - Musical or Comedy Richard Gere Won
Best Actress - Musical or Comedy Renee Zellweger Won
Best Actress - Musical or Comedy Catherine Zeta-Jones Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John C. Reilly Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Queen Latifah Nominated
Best Director Rob Marshall Nominated
Best Screenplay Bill Condon Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards[13]
Best Picture Won
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Best Acting Ensemble Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award
Best Actress Renee Zellweger Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award
Best Picture Won
Directors Guild of America Awards
Outstanding Directing Rob Marshall Won
Evening Standard British Film Awards
Best Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Florida Film Critics Circle
Best Song "Cell Block Tango" Won
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures
Best Directorial Debut Rob Marshall Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards[14]
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Best Breakthrough Filmmaker Rob Marshall Nominated
Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Nominated
Best Editing Martin Walsh Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society
Best Picture Nominated
Best Actress Renee Zellweger Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
Best Director Rob Marshall Nominated
Best Cinematography Dion Beebe Nominated
Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Won
Best Film Editing Martin Walsh Won
Best Newcomer Rob Marshall Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[15]
Best Actress Renee Zellweger Won
Best Actor Richard Gere Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Won
Best Supporting Actress Queen Latifah Nominated
Best Acting Ensemble Won
Writers Guild of America Award
Best Adapted Screenplay Bill Condon Nominated


  1. ^ Chicago at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ "Chicago Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Chicago (2002) - Cream of the Crops". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Chicago reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  6. ^ Robey, Tim (Decembery 27, 2002). "This Jailhouse Rocks". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  7. ^ O'Connell, Sean (January 21, 2003). "Chicago". Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Top Grossing Movies That Never Hit #1 at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  9. ^ "The 75th Academy Awards (2003) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ "The 2003 Oscar Winners". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  12. ^ "The 2003 Golden Globe Award Winners". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  13. ^ "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 2002". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  14. ^ "O.F.C.S.: The Online Film Critics Society". Rotten Tomatoes. January 6, 2003. Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  15. ^ "The 2003 Screen Actors Guild Award Winners". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 

External links

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