Although Frank Urson is credited as the director, it was widely known (and even publicized) at the time that producer Cecil B. DeMille directed most of the film (including 11 days of re-takes). DeMille took his name off the picture because his Biblical epic, The King of Kings (1927) was also playing in theaters at the time. Reportedly, DeMille's friend, theater owner Sid Grauman, convinced the director that audiences wouldn't want to see an amoral crime drama with an adulterous heroine so soon after seeing DeMille's film about the life of Christ.
The Broadway play, "Chicago," which inspired this film, 1942's Roxie Hart (1942), and the Tony-award winning musical and Oscar-winning 2002 film, was based on a true story. The characters of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly were inspired by the real-life cases of two Chicago women -- Beaulah Annan and Belva Gaertner -- who each murdered their lovers in 1924. Both women were tried in separate cases, which became media sensations in Chicago, and both were acquitted. Playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins covered both trials as a reporter for the "Chicago Tribune," and adapted her experiences into the play, "Chicago."