The Sunday Intertitle: The Perfumed Cage

I’m still thinking back with pleasure upon CHICAGO. One of the movie’s cheekier ideas is to present the womens’ prison as a kind of Turkish harem of sexy flappers and weird grotesques. Here’s the lady mentioned above ~

Within frames of her introduction, she’ll be in a knock-down fight with Roxie, after spitting the word “Peroxide!” at her. Roxie then tears out her “False hair” and throws it to the lesbians.

There’s also the tragic baby-killer, trapped in a mental loop of re-enacting her woeful trauma with a doll on a string. Her story is grim enough to make even Roxie Hart falter ~

But my favourite is this delicious, evil-looking creature, in jail for knifing the old man ~

Later, we sneak a peak at the book she’s reading, an etiquette guide for ladies. Chapter heading: “When is it correct to use a knife?”

Here’s another intertitle of sorts, the foreword Nunnally Johnson places before the action of William Wellman’s remake, ROXIE HART ~

By the way, you can buy your choice of Roxies here ~

CHICAGO The Original 1927 Film Restored Phyllis!

Roxie Hart Ginger!

23 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: The Perfumed Cage”

  1. Hey! That’s a description of me! I’ve used Black Narcissus perfume and I don’t make the bed. (But my hair is all my own) You’d better watch out you don’t pass on sort of unexpected David.

  2. As long as you don’t turn into a real lady I’ll consider myself safe ;)

  3. david wingrove Says:

    God, this film looks about a zillion times better than the Oscar-winning musical CHICAGO – with those two Z gals knocking themselves out trying to be Marilyn and Jane in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. Or is it Jeanne and Brigitte in VIVA MARIA? Or the Deneuve sisters in YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT? Whoever it is they’re trying to emulate, they simply can’t cut it…and watching them try is exhausting!

  4. I’ve seen very very little Zellwegger, so I’m not sure exactly what it is she’s supposed to be able to do, but Chicago definitely wasn’t it.

  5. Christopher Says:

    ..pity we can’t come up with a good musical these days..I think it would do us all some good.
    Man!..I gotta get this Chicago movie..looks too good to pass up..got to see the Baby killah!
    I have to get the taste of this(as much as I love Catherine Zeta Jones)bad modern rage of a musical out of my mind by seeing the real thing!..CHICAGO sounds like something folks now days would make up about the 1920s(al capone,gangsters,jazz,flappers)..thats kind of how I see it..gotta get that sense of BOGUSness out of my haid!

  6. If you buy it, buy it via my Amazon link. That way I get $$$!

    The 28 version certainly has the authentic whiff of jazz age sin about it. The Ginger Rogers version is really funny, but you have to discount the ending, which leaves a sour impression. Otherwise it’s deliciously immoral.

  7. Sternberg’s Thunderbolt (1929) also presents prison as a kind of theater.

  8. Absolutely, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew Chicago.

    Maurine Dallas Watkins, as a journalist, visited the women’s prisons for interviews and brought along fancy duds so the ladies could look their best for the photographers. There’s artistic license in Chicago the movie, but perhaps not as much as there was in Chicago the city, back in the day.

  9. Having seen these you really should give Cromwell’s CAGED a look, since it shares much in common with the above predecessors. However, it may not have quite the “zing” CHICAGO appears to possess. The delicious, evil-looking creature is a dead ringer for Robert Crumb’s Devil Girl, her face specifically (although I dunno, she seems to share the same “physique” as Devil Girl too). No doubt about it, this and the Ginger vehicle are definitely on my must-see list.

  10. Chicago’s Devil Girl isn’t as burly as a Crumb lady, I think. But the facial resemblance is striking, now you mention it.

    You sent me Caged (Agnes Moorhead! Hope Emerson!) and I really need to sit down to it. Cromwell is a guy I’ve been slow to come to. The interesting Virginia Kellogg, who scripted, also gave us White Heat and T-Men. Fascinatin’ lady!

  11. Lee Patrick plays the most Watkins-like character in Caged

  12. There’s a lot of entertainment value to be found in CAGED, trust me you won’t be disappointed. One of my favorites.

  13. Oh, I love Lee Patrick!

  14. > whiff of jazz age sin about it

    Perhaps that’s a good enough excuse to provide this clip from the Michael John LaChiusa musical of THE WILD PARTY — n.b. *not* to be confused with the Andrew Lippa version which appeared simultaneously — wherein Toni Collette has something of the Roxy feel. I particularly like the bratty way Collette makes faces when her less-than-satisfactory beloved (Mandy Patinkin) is unable to see them. (This is, of course, a Tonys medley, so what we see is less a sample from the show than an ad for it …)

  15. I’ll simply repeat what I overheard after a screening of the Lon Chaney PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – “Why did they make a silent movie out of a musical?”

    Could have been intended ironically, I suppose.

  16. That’s so dumb it’s kind of beautiful. A fair question, I suppose, to ask of Vidor’s La Boheme.

  17. There’s also James Ivory’s The Wild Party, starring Raquel — who has just turned 70.

  18. Not nearly enough James Ivory films have Raquel in them, I find. She would have livened up Howard’s End enormously.

  19. Raquel was Ismael’s first choice for the Maggie Smith role in A Room With A View but James nixed it.

  20. It seems the Ivory Merchants had a godawful time with Raquel – who agreed to do a nude scene before shooting started, but then flatly refused on the day!

    Still, the resulting film is a gem and Raquel does some stellar work. As the song goes…

    SHE’S A MIXTURE OF EVIL AND INNOCENT CHARM –
    A KINDA LUCREZIA BORGIA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM

    A refreshing change from Helena Bonham Carter!

  21. Welch promised a nude scene to United Artists too, right before Cimino bankrupted them. The naked Welch is an unfulfilled cinematic dream, like Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico!

    Although, maybe it’s not too late. As a make-up artist said back in the day, “She’s silicon from the knees up.”

  22. Are you implying that Raquel might have done a nude scene if the money was right? David, you cynic!!

    My favourite comment vis-a-vis onscreen nudity actually comes from Bette Midler…”Moi, in the altogether? Honey, no studio on earth has that much money!”

    Mind you, la Bette’s core fan base is not known for its fondness for undraped female flesh.

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