Ian (lovingboth) wrote,

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Chicago, the film version

I've seen the stage show lots of times. Not in the Shockheaded Peter sense of seeing the same production Rather A Lot, but lots of different productions over the years. It's been very popular at places like the Edinburgh fringe, for example.

So, they've finally filmed it - I'd love to know why it took so long. And it's rather good. (The source material is so good, it'd be difficult to mess up!)

However... there are a few problems, all of which were avoidable.

1) The 'Bonfire of the Vanities' problem. That was another example of staggeringly good source material being messed about with. There are no nice characters in either original, but a major Hollywood film has to have them. So Roxie Hart becomes a nice girl, really. No 'no-one walks out on me!' before shooting the lover for this Roxie.

2) The 'Flashdance' problem. Look at the editing for Catherine Zeta-Jones' dances. Compare and contrast with everyone else's. She gets very fast cutting, doesn't she? The cynical may wonder if she was up to it, and the editing is disguising just how many takes it took to get each section.

3) The 'Fluffies doing Money' problem. Possibly one of the worst versions of any song (ever) was in a children's TV show where stop-framed animated characters sang popular songs. One time, they did 'Money' from Cabaret. And they did it as if the song was about money, not sex. Here, we get a version of Mama Morton's 'When You're Good To Mama' that's about... money, not sex. Both times, the lyrics are the same, but WHERE'S THE SEX??

4) The 'shoot the musical producer' problem. The choreography is very good - as you'd expect, given how much is lifted straight from Bob Fosse. But some of the arrangements are... bad. Cell Block Tango stands out here for me. Listen to the stage show CD (the US version is much better than the UK one) and to the soundtrack CD... I'm right, aren't I?

5) The 'but this is for sisters' problem. The opening number is meant to be for Velma and her we-don't-know-she's-dead-yet sister, yes? The band and the other dancers don't know only one is going to appear on stage? So why is it clearly choreographed for just one sister?

6) The 'lets lose more sex' problem. In every stage version I can remember, Mary Sunshine - the soft-hearted reporter - is revealed to be a man in drag. Complete with her own song. Not here.

I'm not sure if some of the changes - like some songs being missing - were down to Kander and Ebb's habit of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting (they've done over a hundred songs for Cabaret over the years, some of which have never been staged!) but most of them are mistakes.

So it's good. But oh, to have had Fosse do the film...
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