Renowned 1920s satire Chicago to be shown during Bo'ness silent film festival

Iconic 1920s satire Chicago is set to be screened at The Hippodrome as the HippFest’s fourth Taste of Silents season continues.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 30th September 2021, 12:30 pm

Seventy-five years before Bob Fosse's Oscar-winning musical adaptation of Maurine Watkins' successful stage play, Cecil B. DeMille's production company made this saucy silent film version.

The 1927 movie will be shown on Saturday, October 16.

Phyllis Haver is hugely entertaining as the brazen Roxie Hart – ‘Chicago's most beautiful murderess’ – a woman so pathologically shallow she sees notoriety for a murder rap as an opportunity to secure her fortune.

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Iconic 1920s satire Chicago will be shown to an audience at The Hippodrome, Bo'ness on October 16.

Egged on by her crooked lawyer, Roxie neglects her long-suffering loyal husband and sets about milking her celebrity status for all she's worth.

First screened at HippFest 2017, this silent film is a firm favourite among HippFest audiences and a good introduction to the world of silent film.

The sequence in the prison is renowned, particularly the rivalry between Roxie and fellow-murderess Velma (played by DeMille's mistress Julia Faye), as are the climactic courtroom scenes.

A satire on fame and the media, this fun-filled tale of adultery, murder and sin is as fresh and relevant as ever.

The razzle-dazzle of 1920s Chicago will be brought to life with live musical accompaniment from John Sweeney on piano.

John has played for silent film at festivals since 1990, including the British Silent Film Festival, the Giornate del Cinema Muto and Cinema Ritrovato, both in Italy, and Silent Films Days in Norway.

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Recently he composed a score for Lois Weber's Dumb Girl of Portici (Milestone DVD), The Great Victorian Picture Show at the London Film Festival (2018) and has recorded DVDs for the BFI, Cineteca Bologna and Edition Filmmuseum.

John is one of the founders of the Kennington Bioscope which screens neglected silent films at the Cinema Museum in London.

John said: “It is rare for everyone in a film to be perfectly cast, but Chicago is that rare thing.

“Phyllis Haver, who was born to play Roxie Hart, didn’t have a long career in the movies, as not long after Chicago she married a millionaire and gave up acting.

“To do this she had to break her contract, which was only allowed in case of ‘an act of God.’ She said, ‘If marrying a millionaire isn’t an act of God, I don’t know what is.’ Roxie couldn’t have put it better.”

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival’s Taste of Silents season runs until October 31, 2021. Tickets are £10 (£8 for concessions).

The Hippodrome’s new Young Audiences scheme will also be valid with tickets for 16 to 25-year-olds just £4.50.

HippFest will return to the Hope Street venue for its full festival programme from March 16-20 next year.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival was launched in Bo’ness in 2011 and has since become a key annual event in the cultural calendar, drawing audiences from across the UK.

The event is organised by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding from Creative Scotland and Falkirk Council.

For tickets and programme information for the Taste of Silents season visit

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