Song of the Day #4,449: ‘We Both Reached For the Gun’ – Chicago cast

Continuing my personal ranking of the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute…

#7. Funny Girl – 1968
(#16 on the AFI list)

I’ve already written about how much I loved Barbra Streisand’s performance in this great film.

#6. Chicago – 2002
(#12 on the AFI list)

The most recent movie on the AFI list, director Rob Marshall’s Chicago is credited with sparking a revival of the musical genre in the 2000s, after it had been largely relegated to the world of animation.

The film is based on a 1975 stage musical directed and co-written by Bob Fosse, a show that was poorly received at the time due to its cynical subject matter. I guess the early 2000s were primed for cynicism, because this Chicago became a massive commercial and critical hit.

A darkly comedic look at celebrity culture, the movie follows wannabe showgirl Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) and vaudevillian Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta Jones), both making the best of the fact that they’ve been charged with murder. Richard Gere plays Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer with a nose for the spotlight.

Marshall’s brilliant approach was to make all the musical numbers into figments of the showbiz-obsessed Roxie’s imagination. It is a great visual conceit, but it also fits Roxie’s character perfectly. This is a woman who wants nothing more than to be on stage, so of course she sees everything around her in that light.

That technique is showcased wonderfully in today’s SOTD, where Billy Flynn uses a press conference to manipulate the press and the process is depicted as an elaborate marionette act.

Chicago was nominated for 13 Oscars, including Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress (twice, for Zeta Jones and Queen Latifah), Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly), Screenplay, Costume Design, Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, Song and Sound. Whew!

It won five trophies, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Zeta Jones, who is possibly the best thing in a fabulous movie.

[EMCEE, spoken]
Mr. Billy Flynn and the press conference rag
Notice how his mouth never moves
Almost

[BILLY (REPORTERS, spoken)]
(Where’d you come from?)
Mississippi
(And your parents?)
Very wealthy
(Where are they now?)
Six feet under
But she was granted one more start
The Convent of The Sacred Heart
(When’d you get here?)
Nineteen-twenty
(How old were you?)
Don’t remember
(Then what happened?)
I met Amos
And he stole my heart away
Convinced me to elope one day

[MARY SUNSHINE]
Oh, you poor dear I can’t believe what you have been through
A convent girl! A runaway marriage!
Now tell us Roxie…
Who’s Fred Casely?

[BILLY (REPORTERS, spoken)]
My ex-boyfriend
(Why’d you shoot him?)
I was leaving
(Was he angry?)
Like a madman
Still I said, “Fred, move along”
She knew that she was doing wrong
(Then describe it)
He came toward me
(With the pistol?)
From my bureau
(Did you fight him?)
Like a tiger
He had strength and she had none
And yet we both reached for the gun

Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, we both
Oh, yes, we both, oh, yes, we both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, oh, yes
We both reached for the gun, for the gun
(Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, they both)
(Oh, yes, they both, oh, yes, they both reached for)
(The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, oh, yes)
(They both reached for the gun, for the gun)

Understandable, understandable
Yes, it’s perfectly understandable
Comprehensible, comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible, it’s so defensible

[BILLY (REPORTERS, spoken) {ROXIE, spoken}]
(How’re you feeling?)
Very frightened
(Are you sorry?)
{Are you kidding?}
(What’s your statement?)
All I’d say is
Though my choo-choo jumped the track
I’d give my life to bring him back
(And?)
Stay away from…
(What?)
Jazz and liquor…
(And?)
And the men who…
(What?)
Play for fun…
(And what?)
That’s the thought that…
(Yeah)
Came upon me…
(When?)
When we both reached for the gun!

[BILLY & MARY SUNSHINE (MARY SUNSHINE)]
(Understandable, understandable)
Yes, it’s perfectly understandable
Comprehensible, comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible, it’s so defensible

[REPORTERS (BILLY, spoken)]
Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, they both
Oh, yes, they both, oh, yes, they both reached for
(Let me hear it)
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, oh, yes
They both reached for the gun, for the gun
(A little louder)
Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, they both
Oh, yes, they both, oh, yes, they both reached for
(Oh, yeah!)
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, oh, yes
They both reached for the gun, for the gun
(Now you got it!)

[BILLY & REPORTERS]
Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, they both
Oh, yes, they both, oh, yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, oh, yes
They both reached for the gun, for the gun
Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, they both
Oh, yes, they both, oh, yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun

[BILLY (REPORTERS)]
Both reached for the gun!
(The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun)
(The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun)
(The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun)
(The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun)
(Both reached for the gun!)

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,449: ‘We Both Reached For the Gun’ – Chicago cast

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Great scene from a wonderful movie. And nice to see Christine Baranski after inundating ourselves with the The Good Wife and The Good Fight.

  2. Peg says:

    Love this movie. All actors were perfect.
    Time for a rewatch!

  3. Amy says:

    I have used this scene in every film unit/class I’ve ever taught, as it provides examples of almost every device we study. And it’s a whole lot of fun!

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