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All That JazzThe Life and Times of the Musical Chicago$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190651794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190651794.001.0001

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The First Movie

The First Movie

Amos Is the Hero

(p.62) 4 The First Movie
All That Jazz

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the background and production history behind Cecil B. DeMille’s adaptation of Watkins’ play. Chicago was a story that Hollywood had wanted to film, and it particularly attracted Cecil B. DeMille, because he liked to amuse his public by mating wicked doings with farce: exactly as Chicago did. However, DeMille did not share Watkins’ didactic fervor. Rather she used Chicago as a Breughelesque hellscape where, just outside the courtroom windows, the population raged with lawbreaking fever. What DeMille saw in the play was something so latent Watkins herself had not used it: the tale of a troubled marriage. In other words: of a decent and loving guy married to a sociopath.

Keywords:   Cecil B. DeMille, film adaptation, Hollywood, troubled marriage, Amos Hart, Broadway, melodrama

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