Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Moments: #62

Chicago  (2002)

The first musical to win the Best Pic Oscar since Oliver! in 1969, this superb film is based on the 1975 Broadway musical, which in turn is based on 1 1926 play, all sharing the same name.  The play, in turn, was based on the on the stories of two real-life Jazz-era killers, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner.  It is today’s Movie Moment because like yesterday’s Pulp Fiction item about the Louise Brooks bob hairstyle, there is an even closer copy by Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago.

Two 1920’s women, singer/dancer Velma Kelly and would-be singer/dancer Roxy hart await trial for murder.  Represented by lawyer Billy, who thinks that not only courtrooms but also life in general is a circus, the movie looks at issues of celebrity, scandal, corruption and the legal system.

Velma Kelly: [Rising from the stage alone] 'C'mon Babe, why don't we paint the town... And all that Jazz. I'm gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down... And all Jazz. Start the car I know a whoopie spot... where the gin is cold and the piano's hot. It's just a noisy hall, where there's a nightly brawl... And all that Jazz.
(Part of the lyrics of the musical number “All That Jazz”).

The “All That Jazz” number:
Cell Block Tango:
When You’re Good to Mama:

The director wanted Catherine Zeta-Jones to wear her natural long hair in the movie, but she insisted on the short bob. She explained to People magazine that she didn't want her hair to fall over her face and give people a reason to doubt that she did all the dancing herself.

As regards the above extract of the lyrics to All That Jazz, the 1920’s saw the advent of the flapper.  They dressed and behaved provocatively and rebelled against the roles in which women had been previously cast. This included fashion, with flapper outfits being much sexier and daring than before.  Arms were exposed, legs were exposed, the female figure was now highlighted rather than hidden.  As part of that revolution, flappers rolled down their stockings and applied rouge to their knees, as well as their cheeks.  There is speculation in some musings on the internet that the red knees were representative of a sexual statement, that the red knees were the same as knees becoming red from kneeling, but there is no evidence to support this.  The rolling down of the stockings and rouging of the knees were representative of free spirits and simply drew attention to limbs, themselves sexual and sexy, that had been covered for so long.
 1920's flappers with rolled stocking

A 1927 silent film, now lost but for fragments, was called Rolled Stockings and starred Louise Brooks:

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