It’s only expected that when you’re playing a decidedly flat character in a film that that character easily becomes lost in the mass. Sometimes, though, despite all working against a performance sometimes an actor still manages to turn in a performance that deserves to be remembered and a character too. Case in point…
Christine Baranski in Chicago
as Mary Sunshine
Some of you might not know this, but Christine Baranski is a two time Tony winner and an accomplished stage thespian. If you’ve listened to the commentary from Rob Marshall and Bill Condon on the DVD you’d know that they made a deliberate decision to fill the supporting ensemble of Chicago with as many proficient stage performers as possible and Baranski is the most renowned of the lot. Playing the lone female journalist amidst the barrage of men, Mary Sunshine is Billy Flynn’s go-to journalist.
Fans of The Good Wife would know that Baranski has a knack for using her voice to exude a significant amount of charm and power and it’s that same powerful timbre that she uses to good effect as Mary Sunshine. In addition to being the solitary female journalist, she’s the only one who has any significant. The Baranski scene I always recall is the “We Both Reached for the Gun” sequence – the number which, arguably, shows off Marshall’s directorial talent best. The puppet scenario earned Zellweger and Gere much kudos (it’s without doubt the best part of Gere’s performance) but the dancing ensemble and Baranski are doing just as fine work.
“Who’s Fred Casely?”
In a satirical film about the silliness of the rise and fall of the (in)famous buoyed on by the media, Baranski’s very cynical Mary Sunshine is a tiny part, but a significant one. I love that as the tempo accelerates we see her typing furiously, preparing her story for publication.
And, I’m reminded of the line Mary sings with Roxie and Billy,
“Understandable, understandable. Not a bit reprehensible, it’s so defensible.”
Do you recall Baranski’s singing journalist? Or, has she been forgotten for a reason?