'Chicago' & 'Cabaret' + 'Fiddler on the Roof': Silent Rarity Returns + Two Classic Musicals

Chicago Phyllis Haver
Chicago with Phyllis Haver. Image: A.M.P.A.S.

A restored print of the little-seen 1928 silent film Chicago will be screened on August 16 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Directed by Frank Urson, Chicago stars Phyllis Haver and Victor Varconi.

I haven't seen the 1928 Chicago, though I'm willing to bet that it's superior to Rob Marshall's dreary 1992 Academy Award-winning musical. First of all, considering that the original Chicago was actually filmed in the 1920s, it'll have the right period atmosphere – unlike Marshall's film, which lacked any sense of time and place.

Second, unlike Renée Zellweger, Phyllis Haver has the right saucy appeal to bring Roxie Hart to life. If you don't believe me, take a look at Haver's Other Woman in D.W. Griffith's 1928 drama The Battle of the Sexes. (It's available on DVD.)

Press Release: Beverly Hills, CA –  The 1928 original film version of Chicago, predecessor to the 2002 Best Picture Oscar® winner, will be screened with live Jazz Age musical accompaniment by Johnny Crawford and his Orchestra at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m., in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The film will be presented under the banner of the Academy's “Lost and Found” series in conjunction with the UCLA Film and Television Archive Festival of Preservation.

This new restoration of the original full-length roadshow version found on 35mm nitrate stock in the Cecil B. DeMille Family collection will reintroduce the public to the vamps from “murderess row” and the mercenary lawyer Billy Flynn. Based on Maurine Watkins' 1926 Broadway play of the same name, Chicago was directed by frequent DeMille collaborator Frank Urson and stars Phyllis Haver as Roxie Hart; Victor Varconi as Roxie's husband, Amos Hart; Eugene Pallette as Roxie's offed lover, Casely; Virginia Bradford as the maid, Katie; and Robert Edeson as Flynn.

Watkins' play, inspired by news stories she wrote for the Chicago Tribune about real-life accused murderesses Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan, also spawned two subsequent films and a Broadway musical. In 1942, William A. Wellman directed Ginger Rogers in the title role of Roxie Hart. Rob Marshall's Chicago, which was based on the 1975 Bob Fosse Broadway musical earned 13 Oscar nominations and took home six Academy Awards® in 2002.

A new print of the silent short Movie Night (1929), starring Charley Chase, will be screened before the feature. It has been preserved by the UCLA Film and 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. The short will be accompanied on the piano by Michael Mortilla.

“Lost and Found” is a periodic series designed to showcase archival prints of films that have been recently rediscovered or restored from new materials that improve the presentation quality of previously available versions.

Tickets for the Academy's “Lost and Found” screening of Chicago are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with valid identification. They may be purchased in advance at the Academy during regular business hours, by mail, or on the night of the screening, if still available, when the doors open at 6:30. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call 310-247-3600.

'Cabaret': Classic Bob Fosse Musical Screening

Cabaret will be screened next Monday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m. in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Press Release: Beverly Hills, CA – The 1972 Best Picture nominee Cabaret will be screened as the next feature in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated” series. The Bob Fosse-directed musical, which takes place in Weimar Republic-era Berlin, will be shown on Monday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m. in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Cast members Michael York and Joel Grey, along with assistant director Wolfgang Glattes, film publicist Vic Heutschy and Fosse assistant Kathryn Doby will participate in a panel discussion following the film.

In Cabaret, Liza Minnelli stars as American Sally Bowles, an entertainer at the Kit Kat Club, who is romanced by two men – a rich German baron and a reserved English academic struggling with his sexual identity. The film received a total of 10 Academy Award® nominations and took home the Oscars® for Actor in a Supporting Role (Grey as “The Master of Ceremonies”), Actress (Minnelli), Art Direction (Rolf Zehetbauer, Jurgen Kiebach; Set Decoration: Herbert Strabel), Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Directing (Fosse), Film Editing (David Bretherton), Music Scoring – Adaptation and original song score (adaptation score by Ralph Burns) and Sound (Robert Knudson, David Hildyard). The film also was nominated for Best Picture (Cy Feuer, producer) and Writing – Screenplay based on material from another medium (Jay Presson Allen).

Oscar-winning live-action short Norman Rockwell's World”¦An American Dream will be screened during the pre-show.

Tickets for Cabaret may be purchased at a cost of $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for the feature is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

Photo: © A.M.P.A.S.

'Fiddler on the Roof': Oscar-Nominated Blockbuster Musical

Press Release: Beverly Hills, CA – The 1971 Best Picture nominee Fiddler on the Roof will be screened as the next feature in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated” series. Adapted from the stage musical which was based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, the film will be shown on Monday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Producer-director Norman Jewison, producer Walter Mirisch, production designer Robert Boyle, editor Antony Gibbs and casting director Lynn Stalmaster will participate in a panel discussion following the screening.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Topol stars as Tevye, a Jewish milkman coping with day-to-day “shtetl” life, Jewish traditions and the women in his life in pre-Revolutionary Russia. The film received a total of eight Academy Award® nominations and took home the Oscars® for Cinematography (Oswald Morris), Music Scoring – Adaptation and original song score (adaptation score by John Williams) and Sound (Gordon K. McCallum, David Hildyard). The film also was nominated for Best Picture (Jewison, producer), Actor (Topol), Actor in a Supporting Role (Leonard Frey as Motel), Art Direction (Boyle, Michael Stringer; Set Decoration: Peter Lamont) and Directing (Jewison).

The Oscar-nominated animated short Evolution (1971) will be shown prior to the feature.

Tickets for Fiddler on the Roof may be purchased at a cost of $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for the feature is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

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2 Comments to 'Chicago' & 'Cabaret' + 'Fiddler on the Roof': Silent Rarity Returns + Two Classic Musicals

  1. Marcus Tucker

    Liza Minnelli has obtained a place in cinema history based entirely upon one film role. Like Sally Eilers, Isabel Jewell, Mae Murray, and others that came before her, she made a number of films but only one that truly mattered. It's amazing to me how in any of the arts one achievement is the basis for greatness. Cabaret is Liza Minnelli's “Mona Lisa” of sorts, one great work that makes up for an otherwise sketchy film career, the way that the “Mona Lisa” obscures the fact that Leonardo seldom finished any of his works.

  2. Marcus Tucker

    Rene Zelleweger is like something right out of the 50's, the same in everything. The first initial role in Jerry Maguire showed lots of promise and so did another film she did with Meryl Streep and William Hurt but since her star turn she hasn't really progressed. Rob Marshall's Chicago is much more of a reflection of the time period in which it was made than the period that it was set in but it took so long to get the show on the road that the film actually making it to the screen was something of a marvel. It would have been different (good or bad) with Madonna or Michelle Phieffer in the role of Roxie (they were both attached at one point) and Zelleweger and Zeta Jones, although Jones fared a little better, seemed like stand ins. But Bebe Neworth or Jasmine Guy weren't big box office and with the film being a musical I think the went for stars rather than people who would have been better. Or maybe not, Madonna's box office record certainly didn't justify her role in Evita (which I thought she did well in, but I liked Swept Away too:) But I think the real issue I have with the Rob Marshall version was that they chose some of the most mannered performers in the industry for the lead roles. People who are the same in everything. And I mean damn near the whole cast, although I liked Latifah and thoughts she should have gotten Jone's Oscar. But Riley, Zelleweger, Zeta-Jones, Baranski, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu, all people who are the same in everything that they do. Why?