CHICAGO JOE AND THE SHOWGIRL is based on a 1944 murder case that ended in the only-ever execution of a Yank by the British. Known as the “Cleft Chin Murder Case”, it made household names of 22-year-old American serviceman Karl Hutten and 18-year-old British showgirl Elizabeth Maud Jones, who are here called Ricky Allen and Georgina Grayson. The movie focuses on their six-day London crime spree in wartime England, which begins with stealing an army truck and fur, and finishes with the murder of a cabbie.
Ricky, who fantasizes himself as dapper mobster Chicago Joe, meets up with Georgina, an English would-be actress, but neither of them are who they appear to be. Ricky, an army deserter, intrigues Georgina with his claim to be working for Al Capone. Georgina, an actress only in her fantasy life and seedy nightclub-dancer in real life, tells Ricky she would love to be his gangster moll. Ricky, however, already has a sweet and shy English girlfriend, Joyce, and is, in fact, leading a triple life (he’s left a wife back home in the States). Together, they feed off each other’s fantasies and become sort of a warped Bonnie and Clyde in what is at first a basically harmless game. When Georgina demands some real action, Ricky shows himself to be a fraud — a weak, aimless GI, led astray by her powers of seduction and his own desire for kicks. The fact that neither of his potentially adulterous relationships are sexually consummated adds to a wild frustration that drives him to crime.
Ricky and Georgina pick up a hitchhiker, and Georgina wants Ricky to steal her fur coat. However, he can’t bring himself to hit a woman, much less kill her. It’s a powerful scene with mounting tension that shows Ricky’s inner conflict, as he agonizes over not wanting to hurt this woman while not wanting to disappoint Georgina either.
According to director Bernard Rose, “The most immoral thing in any movie is to show death or violence as something clear and uncomplicated…. It has to be shown as awful and messy and disturbing.” When Ricky’s struggle happens again later in a similar situation, it, too, is equally felt by the viewer, as are his other hauntings that “your sins will find you out” — from the hellish turn his life has taken, to the triple life he’s leading.
At one point, Ricky remembers the words of his mother. “Keep a clean body and a pure mind, and you’ll go far.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t. In the next scene, he fondles Joyce. Regrettably, Ricky falls under the influence of the other type of woman that the Bible describes, which leads to his destruction. “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:27). Yet, Ricky had ample warning. When he asks Georgina when do they rest, she replies, “We can rest in the grave.”
Murder; theft; a handful of obscenities; brief, but intense violence; sexual situations, and brief partial nudity; and, brief astrological references.