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1942ís ROXIE HART ($15) is adapted from the same source material that would inspire 2002ís Academy Award winning Best Picture CHICAGO, although this version of the story gets a light coat of whitewash too appease the censors of the time, as well as playing up the screwball comedy elements. Ginger Rogers delivers one of her best non-musical performances as the publicity seeking Roxie, who goes along with a reporterís harebrained scheme to portray her a murderess in the newspapers, as a means of furthering her dancing career. Adolphe Menjou is wonderful as Billy Flynn, the over-the-top defense attorney, who has a proven track record of getting acquittals for accused murderesses. ROXIE HART has a hilariously cynical attitude towards the workings of press and the judicial system; neither of which seems significantly changed in the sixty-plus years since this film went before the cameras. The cast of ROXIE HART also features George Montgomery, Lynne Overman, Nigel Bruce, Phil Silvers, Sara Allgood, William Frawley, Spring Byington, Ted North, Iris Adrian and George Chandler.

20th Century Home Entertainment has made ROXIE HART available on DVD in a very nice 1.37:1 black and white presentation, which is representative of the filmís original theatrical aspect ratio. The film element used for the transfer is in excellent condition for its age, appearing very clean and well preserved- a couple of errant shots seem just a bit dupey, but otherwise, itís completely marvelous. There is a bit of grain that is noticeable through the presentation, although it creates a rather film like quality for the DVD. The image is generally sharp and rather nicely defined, although close ups of the filmís leading lady take on that slightly diffuse look of glamour photography. Blacks are inky, whites are crisp and contrast is usually quite good. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

ROXIE HART comes with English Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural and stereo soundtrack options. The pseudo-stereo version gives a nicer spread to the sound, but otherwise offers little difference from the monaural version. Most of the background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving a clean and smooth quality to both tracks. Fidelity has the expected limitations, but the sound is never harsh or tinny. Dialogue is crisp and always completely understandable. No other language tracks are provided, although English subtitles have been included. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as two versions of the filmís theatrical trailer, plus bonus trailers.

ROXIE HART is a whole heck of a lot of fun and features a great comic performance from Ginger Rogers. Fox has done a fine job with the filmís presentation on DVD, and the disc comes at a bargain price. If you are a fan of CHICAGO, ROXIE HART is definitely a film to check out on DVD.  Recommended.



Roxie Hart (1942)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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