Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"Chicago Joe and the Showgirl" begins on two different notes at the same time. A theater curtain opens, suggesting that we are about to see a made-up story, while titles on the screen inform us that the film is based on real events. The film tries to maintain a balance between those two kinds of reality - between a series of crimes that eventually led to murder, and a fantasy-world in which movies images were more important than actual events.
The movie is set in London, in the later days of World War II, when the Yankee presence had made a profound impact on British culture.
Movies from Hollywood had been filling the cinemas for years, and now here were thousands of servicemen with their American accents, their loud voices and confident swagger, and their pockets full of cigarettes. Two people meet, one British, one American, both with a borderline connection to reality, and their chemistry leads by one foredoomed step after another to tragedy.
The British character, the "showgirl" (Emily Lloyd), begins to project her fantasies on the American almost from the moment she meets him. She wants him to be a movie character, somebody like a gangster from Chicago. The G.I. (Kiefer Sutherland) goes along. He's leading a shadow existence of his own, after going AWOL from the Army with a stolen truck. Together they cruise the blacked-out streets of London, while wartime music plays and they begin to believe they're characters in each other's movies.