Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition

12/5/2005

chicagoBuena Vista, two discs, color, PG-13, 113 min plus supplements, Dolby Digital 5.1, widescreen, Street: Dec 20, $29.99; First Run: W, Dec. 2002, $171 mil.

When this multiple Oscar-winner was first released on DVD, it contained a bare minimum of supplements: a commentary by director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon, the deleted song “Class” and a 30-minute featurette. This two-disc special edition contains all of the featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage and archival clips that were clearly held back from the first release. The most egregious love-fest is “An Intimate Look at Director Rob Marshall,” in which everyone from composers John Kander and Fred Ebb to the producers and the cast go overboard in praising the talented first-time director. Shorter and thankfully milder featurettes salute production designer John Myhre and costume designer Colleen Atwood, both Oscar winners for their work on the film. The most intriguing supplement centers around the month in which Liza Minnelli filled in for Gwen Verdon in the 1975 Broadway production, documented for posterity solely through a clip from the Dinah! daytime talk show. The purpose of this package is, of course, to extol the virtues of the film, and so we are treated to montages that blend rehearsal footage, on-set video and the finished performances. As excellent as the film is, theater buffs will find it hard not to enter a nostalgic haze with the featurette “From Stage to Screen,” which focuses on the three leads from the original Broadway production: Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach. In wonderful interview footage shot before his death last year, Orbach reminiscences about the show’s peerless director, Bob Fosse. For her part, Rivera testifies to the brilliance of her co-stars. And the brief, Fosse-directed TV commercials seen here, along with a killer TV rendition of “Razzle Dazzle” by Orbach, bear her out. Orbach seconds Rivera’s perspective on the movie when he declares, “I couldn’t have been happier [with it]. Sure, I would’ve liked to play it, you know.” –Ed Grant