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Roxie Hart

Roxie Hart(1942)

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In 1942, Chicago reporters Homer Howard and Stuart Chapman investigate a murder on Stuart's first day on the job. Homer disparages the case as mundane, and as they drink in a nearby bar, reminisces about a famous case, that of would-be dancer Roxie Hart. Homer then describes how, in 1927, theatrical booking agent Fred Casely was murdered: The police discover Casely's body in the apartment belonging to Roxie and her husband Amos. While the police question Amos, who did not know that Roxie was Casely's client, reporter Jake Callahan and Casely's partner, E. Clay Benham, convince Roxie to allow herself to be arrested for the crime. They tell Roxie that a pretty woman is never convicted in Chicago, and that the notoriety will be a terrific springboard for her career. Even though Roxie knows that Amos is guilty, she lets him tell the police that she is responsible and poses for photographs as she is arrested. While in prison, Roxie receives reporters, including Homer, who had just started as a reporter, and Amos hires flashy lawyer Billy Flynn. Realizing what a publicity bonanza the case will be, Billy instructs Roxie to plead self-defense and engineers interviews for her, during which she entertains the reporters with "The Black Hula," a dance that she concocted. Homer is entranced by the lovely Roxie, and during his investigation, learns from janitor Michael Finnegan that Amos is the real killer. After a month passes, Roxie is knocked off the front pages by the exploits of tough thief "Two-Gun" Gertie Baxter. Concerned about editorials decrying leniency toward women, Roxie decides to regain public sympathy by pretending to be pregnant. The press once again makes Roxie its darling, and Billy furthers her cause by getting her trial moved up and tricking Amos, whom Roxie does not love anyway, into divorcing her. Despite Billy's grandstanding tactics, Roxie becomes nervous during the trial and demands that Billy contact Finnegan to get the truth. Finnegan has died though, and the judge rules that Homer's testimony about his interview with Finnegan, which implicates Amos, is hearsay and therefore inadmissable. Billy's theatrics and Roxie's acting ability save the day, however, and after she swoons in front of the jury box at the end of her testimony, the jury acquits her. Just after the verdict is read, Amos tries to escape arrest, and the press instantly forgets Roxie and takes up his case. Bewildered to find herself deserted, Roxie must chose between the honest but poor Homer and O'Malley, the rich jury foreman. As Homer finishes the story, he reveals to Stuart that the bartender of the saloon they are in is none other than O'Malley, who lost his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. Homer is then picked up by his wife, Roxie, and their six children, and Roxie informs Homer that they will need a bigger car next year.