All That Jazz
Inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2, the great choreographer-filmmaker Bob Fosse fashioned this painfully honest, unsentimental self-portrait of the artist as a compulsive jerk. Yet his artistry comes through in every frame, every move, every gesture.
Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) is a theatre director and choreographer trying to balance work on his latest Broadway musical with editing a Hollywood film he has directed. He is a workaholic who chain-smokes cigarettes and “chain-sleeps” with his dancers. Without a daily dose of Vivaldi, Visine, Alka-Seltzer, Dexedrine, and sex, he wouldn’t have the energy to keep up the biggest “show” of all — his life. His girlfriend Katie Jagger (Ann Reinking), his ex-wife Audrey Paris, and daughter Michelle try to pull him back from the brink, but it is too late for his exhausted body and stress-ravaged heart. Decades of overwork and constant stress have gotten to Gideon. In his imagination, he flirts with an angel of death named Angelique (Jessica Lange).
By any measure this is a high water mark in the artistry of the Hollywood musical.
This fascinating, imaginative and intimate biographical musical drama is a startlingly candid testament from the late Bob Fosse, gifted dancer, brilliant choreographer and Oscar-winning director of Cabaret. Sensational dancing and eye-popping production numbers punctuate the confessional reminiscences of arrogant, satirical theatrical eminence Joe Gideon as he flirts with Death.
Kim Newman, Empire
Fosse’s strikingly daring approach deals with death romantically (the film is structured as a dialogue between Gideon and his Angel of Death), comically (the Lenny Bruce monologue), clinically (the hospital scenes with the open heart surgery) and ironically (the climactic song-and-dance staging). Dazzlingly directed and edited, All That Jazz deserved the Academy Award for Best Film that went to a much lesser effort (Kramer vs Kramer).
Jean-Pierre Coursodon, Defining Moments in Movies
Aug 29 only: Introduction from film scholar Michael van den Bos
Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, Leland Palmer, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen
Palme d’Or, Cannes 1980; Best Original Song, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Academy Awards 1980
Robert Alan Aurthur
Robert Alan Aurthur, Bob Fosse