In the musical film Chicago we are introduced to 'the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail' during the Cell Block Tango number, one of the strongest dance numbers in the movie, in my opinion. Each of the 'merry murderesses' describes why the victim 'had it coming' and why she is innocent, as 'it was a murder, but not a crime'.
In the dance routine, five of the women have red handkerchiefs and the Hunyak has a white one, which made me assume it is a symbol for her innocence. I have been searching online for discussions about the Hungarian's innocence, but the most I could find were pages where she is called innocent without any proof or self-doubt. So here are my two cents on this important subject:
To prove the Hunyak's innocence we first need to prove that the red handkerchiefs are symbols for the murders and thus the white handkerchief symbolizes her innocence:
- The red handkerchiefs are used in lieu of the actual weapons, and each of the women simulates the killing with the garment. After a short glimpse at the attached photo mosaic one can easily see who killed her male partner by:
- firing a shotgun into his head
- putting arsenic in his drink
- stabbing him with a knife
The other three modi operandi are not described.
- Velma Kelly who killed both her husband and her sister has two red handkerchiefs, one for each of the murders.
- The Hunyak has a white handkerchief and does not simulate a killing on her male dance partner. She just subserviently reveals her white handkerchief, while white limelight floods her dancing area, creating a sharp contrast with all the other dancers who are lit in red.
While all of this is just circumstantial evidence, I believe the Hunyak, played by Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, was wrongfully accused, convicted and executed.
If per chance you do not own a copy of the Chicago movie, you are more than welcome to purchase it here.