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Roxie Hart

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1942

When it comes to classic Hollywood musicals, Roxie Hart is an underrated gem that deserves more attention. Released in 1942, this film stars Ginger Rogers in a departure from her usual roles as a glamorous song-and-dance star. Instead, she plays the titular character, a brassy chorus girl with dreams of stardom and a penchant for trouble.

Roxie is a classic antiheroine, a character type that was rare in Hollywood at the time. She's selfish, manipulative, and willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. However, she's also charismatic and charming, and it's impossible not to root for her even when she's doing something morally dubious. The film follows her journey from a nobody to a notorious murder suspect to a media sensation, all while navigating the corrupt and cutthroat world of Chicago's criminal justice system.

One of the film's biggest strengths is its sharp and witty script. The dialogue is full of clever wordplay and sly social commentary that make it stand out from other movies of the era. Adolphe Menjou co-stars as Billy Flynn, Roxie's smooth-talking and highly unethical lawyer who helps turn her into a media sensation. Menjou delivers his lines with perfect timing and a sly smirk that makes it clear he's having a blast in the role. Meanwhile, George Montgomery plays Homer Howard, a naive and earnest newspaper reporter who becomes enamored with Roxie and tries to help her clear her name.

The film's musical numbers are also a delight. While Roxie Hart isn't a full-blown musical in the traditional sense, there are several scenes where characters break out into song and dance. These moments are typically used to heighten the drama or underscore the film's themes of ambition and deception. The most memorable musical number is probably "Hooray for Hollywood," a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the movie industry that features a chorus line of starlets and an appearance by the real-life Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons.

Another standout element of the film is its portrayal of the legal system and the media. Roxie's trial is a circus, with reporters and photographers jostling for position in the courtroom and Flynn pulling all sorts of tricks to sway the jury. It's a pointed critique of the way sensationalist news coverage can overshadow facts and due process. The film doesn't paint a pretty picture of the American justice system and the way it can be manipulated by those with power and money.

Overall, Roxie Hart is a smart, funny, and engaging film that deserves more recognition. Ginger Rogers is excellent in a role that showcases her range as an actress, and the film's satire of the legal and media systems is still relevant today. If you're a fan of classic Hollywood musicals or darkly funny crime stories, this is definitely a film worth checking out.

Roxie Hart is a Comedy, Romance movie released in 1942. It has a runtime of 74. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9..

6.9/10
Director
William A. Wellman
Stars
Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou
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