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118 minutes · 1927

Drama, Silent
Maureen Watkins's 1926 play about a flamboyant vamp trying to beat a murder rap has enjoyed a long shelf life: it was filmed as Roxie Hart in 1943 and adapted into a stage musical by Bob Fosse in 1975 before Rob Marshall's 2002 film of the Fosse show won six Oscars. This silent 1927 version makes a good argument for the virtues of visual storytelling; director Frank Urson favors rhythm over dialogue, pantomime over intertitles, to tell his story of a married woman who kills her paramour after he refuses to pay her astronomical clothing bills and, aided by a famous defense attorney, turns her trial into high theater. Phyllis Haver is appropriately fetching as Roxie, and her leggy fight in a women's jail prefigures countless exploitation films to come.
Director: Frank Urson
Cast: Phyllis Haver, Victor Varconi, Eugene Pallette, Virginia Bradford, T. Roy Barnes, Warner Richmond and Robert Edeson

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