Director/choreographer Bob Fosse tells his own life story as he details the sordid life of Joe Gideon, a womanizing, drug-using dancer.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Erzsebet Foldi ...
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Dr. Ballinger
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Joshua Penn
William LeMassena ...
Jonesy Hecht
Irene Kane ...
Leslie Perry (as Chris Chase)
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Victoria
Kathryn Doby ...
Kathryn
Anthony Holland ...
Paul Dann
Robert Hitt ...
Ted Christopher
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Storyline

Choreographing and picking dancers for his current show whilst editing his feature film about a stand-up comedian is getting to Joe Gideon. Without the chemical substances, he would not have the energy to keep up with his girlfriend, his ex-wife, and his special dancing daughter. They attempt to bring him back from the brink, but it's too late for his exhausted body and stress-ravaged heart. He chain-smokes, uses drugs, sleeps with his dancers and overworks himself into open-heart surgery. Scenes from his past life start to encroach on the present and he becomes increasingly aware of his mortality. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hinter dem Rampenlicht  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the first lines, "To be on the wire is life; the rest is waiting", is spoken voice-over as we see a man falling from a high wire into a net (and the speaker then admits he did not make it up). The quote is generally attributed to Karl Wallenda, who had died the year before the film came out, when he fell from a high wire without a net. See more »

Goofs

In a closeup of back of Joe's head during Bye Bye Love number, a large strip of Scotch tape is inexplicably running across back of his head. See more »

Quotes

Joe Gideon: [to God, while wandering the hospital after surgery] What's the matter, don't you like musical comedy?
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits, only the company credits and the title, which resembles revolving Broadway lights. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Kids in America (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Everything Old Is New Again
(1974)
Written by Peter Allen (uncredited) & Carole Bayer Sager (uncredited)
Performed by Peter Allen
Irving Music, Inc. / Woolnough Music, Inc. (BMI) / New York Times Music Corp. (BMI)
Courtesy of A&M Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beyond Brilliant (and I hate musicals!)
19 June 2006 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

Read my review of "Newsies" if you want my opinion of the musical genre. People just don't break into song-and-dance numbers in the course of their daily lives. Unless they are Bob Fosse, when suddenly doing so not only makes sense, but makes you wonder how we can go through life NOT singing and dancing.

What this movie is, is simple: Bob Fosse unveiling his life, his knowledge, and a detailed explanation of his creative process, for future generations to evolve. This film is part biography, part self-exploration, and part legacy. It is the "legacy" part that is overlooked by almost everyone. If you ever dreamed of becoming a choreographer, this is the ideal place to start, because you'll watch, over and over, as Joe Gideon (Roy Schieder as the fictionalized Fosse) puts his stamp on a dance number, a process so unique and brilliant that it could easily be classified as its own form of dance rather than a subset of modern dance. If three words could sum up Fosse's style of choreography it would be "make it sexier." Then make it even sexier. Then, when you're done, you need to make it even sexier. The "Airotica" number exemplifies this, and served as the inspiration for Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted" video.

The movie brings Fosse's inner circle and personal life to the screen, pulling absolutely no punches. Some call this film a form of narcissism, but it's hard to see how a man looking for self-given glory would portray himself falling apart physically and personally, the years obviously having taken a toll, as well as the emotional baggage that comes with abandoning family life (and a brilliantly played daughter by Erzsebet Foldi, in what would be her only film before she retired) for a girlfriend with some side dishes for variety. The women hate Gideon's infidelity, but love the man so dearly they know not to question or challenge it.

Throughout the film, we are treated to vignettes that comprise the mosaic that is the life of Fosse. Metaphors abound, and the music blends effortlessly into a film that can make two hours seem like two minutes. This is not a film that could have been written and will not be enjoyed by those of simple intellects. So much of the plot exists in the abstract, and it is up to the viewer to find what is often an incredibly subtle symbolism. Simply put, this is a well-constructed film. Fosse's ex-wife and dance protégé, Ann Reinking, auditioned for (!) and won the part based on her, while the supporting cast includes many solid names, even a young John Lithgow as Lucas. Fosse's daughter makes a cameo in the film, as does the film editor. The comedian who appears as the subject of a movie is based on Lenny, a previous Fosse film.

Joe Gideon is what everyone should be no matter what they do: someone who doesn't copy others, but develops their own vision and then methodically, sometimes maniacally, makes it happen. He lives in the moment, and squeezes everything he can out of each moment. This is evidenced by Gideon's brilliant work, but also by his rapidly deteriorating health caused by living in the party moments as well as the serious ones.

The ending number is for the ages, putting a spin on the sappy endings that musicals are famous for.

Your life is lacking until you have seen this film. That it did not win the Best Picture Oscar for its year was an absolute tragedy. It is one of the five best films of all time.


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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