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A self-indictment.
TOMASBBloodhound24 May 2006
All that Jazz is a great film that almost seems to have dropped off the radar screen of classic musicals. The film gives us the account of a choreographer named Joe Gideon (Scheider) whose relentless way of living drives him straight into the grave. The character is based on the real life of director Bob Fosse who suffered the same fate in 1987. Gideon is a womanizing, drug abusing, perfectionist who begins each morning with the same routine. He pops a few pills, takes some Alka-Seltzer, jumps in the shower (sometimes with a cigarette in his mouth!), and declares it's "showtime" after giving himself one last look in the mirror. When we meet him, he's currently putting the finishing touches on a film he's just directed, and he's beginning work on a new Broadway musical. The man looks absolutely exhausted. He's always smoking. He seems on the brink of collapse from angina, and he frequently grasps his left arm apparently in an effort to determine if his heart is still beating or not.

The main idea behind this film is that Gideon knows he's dying. The life he has lived has assured him only a brief stay on this earth. As the film plays out, we see how Gideon comes to grips with his impending fate. His final journey is often touching; sometimes joyful. But above all, it is compelling and once it's over, you'll probably wish Gideon had hung on longer. He seemed to have so much to live for. Even the people around him who he's hurt in life (his ex-wife and current girlfriend, for example) still are a big part of his life. He has a wonderful daughter who he's just getting to know, as well. Without him around, there would certainly be an enormous void left for all of the central characters in this film. We see him confess his life's sins to Jessica Lange who plays an angel waiting to usher him into the afterlife once he finally succumbs to his medical problems. The closer the two of them get, the closer he is to the grave.

Fosse's direction is exceptional. His musical numbers (particularly Airotica) are top-drawer as you'd expect them to be. And he's never afraid to shock you with his camera-work. At one point we get an up-close and personal look at Gideon's heart surgery, and that's a bit grotesque for a musical. Remember this is the same director that showed us Dorothy Stratton's face getting blown off with a shotgun in Star 80.

Fosse also understandably knows these characters better that they know themselves. By the end of the film, you really know Joe Gideon, and you feel like you've lived part of his life. Fosse saw the same fate coming to himself, and indeed it found him in 1987. We often wish exceptional individuals would stick around longer, but then again it's the way they live that makes them so exceptional.

This film is highly recommended. 9 of 10 stars.

The Hound.
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Brilliant summary of director/Co-writer Fosse's decent into show biz madness and death
dean23719 August 2003
Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ has been mistaken for a rip-off of Fellini's 8 1/2 for some time. But that is giving it short shrift as an illuminating, sobering account of one man's burnout in the face of enormous pressure from the elements of the entertainment industry which he's involved himself in, namely Broadway and the film industry. Based on Fosse's experiences directing CHICAGO on Broadway and LENNY for United Artists, it stars Roy Scheider as Fosse's always black-dressed alter ego Joe Gideon, who's long road to success has been dotted with drug addictions, one-night stands, betrayals, and show biz phoniness.

Particularly of interest in this film is the strong autobiographical quality of it. Fosse did, indeed, suffer his first heart attack during this 1973/74 period of his life. The film-within-the-film, "The Stand Up," is an interesting variation on LENNY (1974, with Dustin Hoffman and Valerie Perrine)---much more irritating than that movie. LENNY ended up getting great reviews, for the most part, but it must have been a tough movie for Fosse to get his hands around, especially while dealing with his failed marriage to Broadway star Gwen Verdon (portrayed here by Leland Palmer). It's certainly portrayed as such in this film. And Chicago seems to have been a challenge for him, too. He obviously thought the original script for that show was lacking (as he actually went on record as saying) and that he had to spice it up for him to become interested in it. (How fascinating would a Fosse film version of CHICAGO have been? As it was, it looks as if eventual CHICAGO director Rob Marshall screened ALL THAT JAZZ many times in order to mine its many storytelling treasures, including the main conceit that most of the film's musical numbers appear in the minds of the main characters.)

Scheider has never been better and deserved real consideration as that year's Best Actor Oscar-winner (he lost, ironically, to Dustin Hoffman who won for KRAMER VS. KRAMER). He is positively channeling his director's personality, down to his constant cigarette smoking and his artsy goatee (not to mention his snaky, rakish attitudes towards personality responsibility). The fine cast also includes: John Lithgow as a rival Broadway director who may or may not take over Joe's show if he dies on the operating table; Max Wright (the dad on ALF) as the producer of Gideon's film; Sandahl Bergman (from CONAN and RED SONJA) as the lead dancer in the "Take Off With Us" musical number that disappoints the stage show's backers; longtime Fosse girlfriend and dancer Ann Reinking as Gideon's other serious bedmate; Cliff Gorman as Davis Newman, the lead actor in "The Stand Up"; the lovely Erezebet Foldi as Gideon's precocious daughter (Fosse's real daughter, Nicole, later appeared in the film version of A CHORUS LINE); Jessica Lange in her first serious role as the Angel of Death; Keith Gordon (an actor in CHRISTINE and BACK TO SCHOOL, who's now an acclaimed director of films like MOTHER NIGHT and the 2003 film adaptation of THE SINGING DETECTIVE) as the young Joe Gideon; Ben Vereen, energetic as a show-biz veteran who "hosts" Gideon's final decent into death. The list goes on and on....

And the tech credits are superb. The film won Oscars for its Tony Walton sets (Tony Walton has been married to Julie Andrews for years, and is an acclaimed stage and film set designer), its Alan Heim editing (Heim worked on NETWORK, among other things), its Ralph Burns scoring (which includes old jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway standards), and its Albert Wolsky costumes. Its photography, by Giuseppe Rotunno, is also great (Rotunno phtographed many Fellini films and probably had much to do with the lumping of Fosse's film in with Fellini's work).

Tying in 1979 with APOCOLYPSE NOW for Cannes Palme D'Or, this is one of the greatest movies ever made, I think, and you'll know that once the first moments--a mass stage audition unbelievably well-edited to the tune of George Benson's version of "On Broadway"--unreel in front of you. It's an unflinching look into the madness of one artist that, eventually, became his undoing (Fosse died in 1986, in his early 60s, of another heart attack, after completing only one more movie, STAR 80, and one more stage show, BIG DEAL). See it and prepare to be moved in strange ways.
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Beyond Brilliant (and I hate musicals!)
ray-28019 June 2006
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.
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Razzle Dazzle 'Em
evanston_dad1 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A never less than fascinating, barely fictionalized biopic about legendary choreographer and director Bob Fosse. The character in the movie is named Joe Gideon, but come on: he's in the middle of choreographing and directing a stage musical that looks an awful lot like "Chicago," and he's in post-production on a film that looks an awful lot like "Lenny." I think we all know who this movie is REALLY about.

It's self indulgent to be sure, and a bit of a mess overall, but it's just so damned accomplished in every way that it's impossible not to sit back and enjoy the ride, however destructive that ride might be. And boy is it destructive. You're going to feel like you need to go on a rigorous exercise regimen and a system-cleansing diet after watching the Fosse stand-in in this film abuse himself to death. This movie will quickly disabuse you of any illusions about the glamour of the show business world.

Roy Scheider gives the performance of his career as Joe Gideon. My other favorite performance came from Leland Palmer as Gideon's long-suffering ex-wife (and presumably Gwen Verdon stand in). These two make poignantly obvious what made them click in the first place while at the same time conveying perfectly why they can't live with one another. Ann Reinking plays Ann Reinking, one-time girlfriend to Fosse who does the same honors in the movie. And before anyone knew who she was, Jessica Lange played a very ravishing angel of death.

"All That Jazz" isn't as tight or as powerful as Fosse's previous musical, "Cabaret," but that's largely because it's so much more insular as a movie. It's really about the demons plaguing one man, and it doesn't have any broader context than that. Whether or not you like it will depend heavily on how fascinating you find the world of New York theatre, and how much you care about Joe Gideon in the first place. To his credit, Scheider is able to make Gideon an entirely sympathetic, if not entirely likable, character.

And if there aren't any musical numbers to rival the razzle dazzle of the "Mein Herr" or "Money, Money" numbers from "Cabaret," there are still a fair share of showstoppers in "Jazz," notably a cute little duet for Reinking and the girl that plays Gideon's daughter, and the rousing opening number, in which a stage full of Broadway hopefuls audition for a show in a whirl of quick edits set to the song "On Broadway." A fantastic, mesmerizing film.

Grade: A
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Quite simply a brilliant film.
fateoptional29 January 2003
To think that Fosse synthesized musical theater, artistic obsession, relationships, fatherhood, and satire all within the framework of a deconstructionist film musical and made it all about himself to boot (including predicting the manner of his own death) without being the least bit self-congratulatory is amazing. The film is edited beautifully; choreographed flawlessly; lit with stark colors that almost fade to black and white at times; and acted with heart and verve, especially by Roy Scheider. The film has one of the most effective uses of the zoom lens (despised by most filmmakers precisely for their inability to figure out when to use it) in film history. The shot pulls back from a lone choreographer on the stage while multitudes of bodies go flying by him, letting us feel his insurmountable task of choosing which of these people will make his show come alive. Some may say the final series of musical numbers runs long but I defy anyone these days to sustain a musical film with the same success. "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago", excellent films that they are, play their cards fast and furious, hoping to razzle-dazzle us just long enough that we'll stay tuned. "All That Jazz" dares to show you a taste of musicals to come ("Take Off With Us") and yet insists you remember where the form came from (the Busby Berkely-esque "Who's Sorry Now?"). When will they come out with the DVD? We can only hope soon.
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k h28 February 2004
One of the best musicals ever made, it's a love song to theater and hedonism and all things Fosse.

Roy Schieder does a fantastic job brings Fosse to life, making the charming womanizing cad unrepentant and lovable at the same time.

Jessica Lange as 'the angel of death' is all you'd want from a grim reaper, and more.

But the real standout is the vibrant editing and music- long before MTV coopted the fast and loose cutting styles that make it hard to focus, Fosse put it to good use- he doesn't just cut for shock value, he cuts WITH the music, creating images that go right into your inner rythm somehow.

I don't know how he did it, but every film student in the world should study this masterpiece.

Ten out of ten!
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A dance with Death...
moonspinner5522 October 2005
Bob Fosse's autobiographical look at the hectic life of a Broadway director/choreographer rehearsing a new show in New York City while concurrently editing his latest movie. Roy Scheider fabulously stands in for Fosse; as Joe Gideon, pill-popping, womanizing, self-destructive genius on the verge of collapse, it is Scheider's shining moment as an actor. Fosse paints himself as suspicious, paranoid, driven, indifferent, exhausted and horny. It's more than most of us want to know about the man, who seems intent on showing us what a creep he is...but a talented creep! The film doesn't particularly look good (it's a gray movie), though it has amazing musical flourishes and the self-styled bombast is actually rather amusing once you get the idea. Jessica Lange is beautiful in an early role as the Angel of Death (imagine Fosse explaining that role to her!), and Scheider's performance is really something to see (only occasionally does the camera catch him not knowing what to do). Fosse tries hard not to be pretentious, he keeps things playful and perky, and his ironic ending is bitterly funny. The film is alive and ticking--but that's not Fosse's heart, it's a time bomb. *** from ****
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Fosse's extravagant homage to the musical stage he loved...
Nazi_Fighter_David26 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
At the end of the seventies, Bob Fosse, director of "Cabaret," created the most striking—and certainly the most controversial—original musical film to appear in many years… Audacious or intimidating, dazzling or simply bewildering, depending on one's point of view, "All That Jazz" was Fosse's extravagant homage to the musical stage he loved—a love tempered by wit and irony—and an autobiographical account of one man's hectic travail in the theater, ending with the ultimate experience of his death… His Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), egotistical, selfish, and womanizing, but also guilt-ridden and striving for a perfection he can never achieve, perceives his entire life in terms of show business… This obsessive view is his gift, his burden, and his tragic flaw…

"All That Jazz" is the most cinematic musical in a very long time… In a style clearly influenced by Italian director Federico Fellini, Fosse uses the camera with brave insurance, moving from naturalistic scenes of frenzied theatrical activity to flights of fantasy, without signaling the audience when the realism ends and the fantasy begins…

Viewed entirely through Joe Gideon's brilliant, disorderly mind, the world is composed of the important people in his life—his ex-wife, his present girlfriend, his young daughter, and all the slightly mad, flamboyant show people he works with, as well as figures from his past and future, most especially the ravishing young woman who represents the Angel of Death…

"All That Jazz" has some painful moments, and is not easy to follow; it demands the attention that many viewers, irritated by Fosse's self-indulgence, were unwilling to give…

Splendidly photographed, "All That Jazz" follows Gideon through the exhausting, driving day-to-day routine… There are a few quiet moments—in one of the film's best scenes, he gives a private dance lesson to his young daughter Michelle (Erzsebet Foldi) , showing a pride and a tenderness he usually conceals… But all of his energy is given to choreographing the movie's most outstanding musical number, "Take Off with Us." Brilliantly conceived, the number involves a group of dancers in sensuous choreographed movement…

"All That Jazz" has flaws, but no musical since "Cabaret" has worked so assiduously to weld all the elements of a musical film into a single entity that could only be done on the screen: a personal statement that could be dismissed or even mocked but that could not be ignored…
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On The Wire
gurghi-215 August 2000
One of the most gleefully indulgent, self-loathing films ever made- yet watchable as a train wreck, thanks to its bravery, wit and overall excellence.

Scheider is unexpectedly effective as the director's mirror image, a talented louse who deserves what he gets. I can only imagine the smirk that must have been on Fosse's face throughout this production. He doesn't ask for forgiveness, he doesn't try to justify Gideon's behavior, and he certainly didn't encourage Scheider to be sympathetic. "You're right, I'm a bastard," he seems to be saying.

While catchy and professional, the musical numbers (particularly the art direction and costumes) range from tasteless to bombastic- as they were intended, I think. The choreography is precise, the editing masterful, and the performances in sharp focus. These elements, plus the acerbically mournful script, make for a fascinating deconstruction of self to an extent rarely, if ever, seen in the movies.

Not every artist should think himself so interesting, but thankfully, both Fosse's professional and personal life merited such honest examination. I can't think of any of our more iconic filmmakers today who have been turned the camera back on themselves in such unflinching fashion.

Note: Among the direct parallels to Fosse's actual career are "The Stand-Up" to "Lenny", and Lithgow's snooty Lucas Sergeant to theatre's estimable Harold Prince.
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Depressing but brilliant
preppy-330 May 2003
The life and times of Bob Fosse--oops! sorry!--Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). He directs, choreographs and writes Broadway musicals and the occasional movie. He also has sex with every woman he can, is a chronic smoker...there's more but I don't want to ruin it.

Basically, this is a character study and an absolutely fascinating one. This is Bob Fosse doing a movie about himself and showing his life in an extremely negative light. I saw this movie when it first came out in 1980. I thought it was one of the most depressing things I had ever seen--but went back to see it three additional times.

The acting is just great all across the board--Scheider is cast against type...and pulls it off. In fact he was nominated for an Academy Award for this performance (he lost to DeNiro for "Raging Bull"). Jessica Lange is playing...let's call her Our Lady of the Oxygen Tank (you'll see what I mean). Seriously, she has a difficult role and plays it beautifully.

The direction is superb, mixing fantasy with reality seamlessly. The songs are good and the dancing is just great (especially in one VERY erotic number about casual sex).

This movie is not for everyone--I know of one theatre in which half the audience walked out demanding their money back--but, if you're game, you probably won't be able to take your eyes off the screen.

Depressing but just great. Fosse's best film (even better than "Cabaret"!)
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Self-congratulatory, but, without a doubt, brilliant
zetes13 December 2002
A brilliant movie from a brilliant artist, and you'll be reminded of that constantly as you sit through All That Jazz, both in positive and negative ways. This, Fosse's fourth and also penultimate film, is his version of 8½. But the great success of Fellini's semi-autobiographical masterpiece, easily one of the five or ten best films ever made, is that its author depicts himself with the greatest humility. And not only great humility but, most importantly, honest humility (or at least believable humility). Fellini's constant self-deprecation felt like honest self-criticism, and it felt as if he was truly exposing his inner self to his audience. In All That Jazz, Fosse tries to do the same, but the self-deprecation comes off almost as back-patting. Fosse presents his alter ego, Joe Gideon (well played by Roy Scheider), as a lovable cad. Oh, he might bang every chick in sight, but it's very much applauded.

I can complain about these more arrogant aspects of All That Jazz, but what is undeniable is how great a filmmaker Fosse really is. It may be extremely self-congratulatory, but, judging from this film itself and its three predecessors, it can be argued that Fosse deserved the adulation that he supplies himself. As a fan, I loved the way he incorporates semi-fictionalized versions of his previous films into this one. 1974's Lenny plays a major part, as Gideon is going through the process of editing his new film The Stand-Up throughout the film. He brings his daughter to its premier, and, it being her first R-rated movie, she thanks her dad and then asks him why that guy wanted to sleep with two women at the same time. The reference to Cabaret is less pronounced but clear, when, stemming off from the daughter's question about threesomes, Gideon flashes back briefly to himself recreating the "Two Ladies" number. This number, of course, was famously created for the film version of Cabaret by Fosse. I'm not 100% sure if there is a reference to Sweet Charity (which would make sense, since it bombed horribly and almost ruined Fosse's filmmaking career), but the musical number with Gideon's girlfriend and daughter begins sort of like the "If They Could See Me Now" number, with Shirley MacLaine in Ricardo Montelbahn's bedroom.

The musical numbers are something to behold. I think this is a given in a Bob Fosse film, but every single one is breathtaking. The sexy rehearsal number, which leads into the even sexier "Airplane" number, would be pilfered by singer/choreographer Paula Abdul in her video "Cold Hearted Snake." More silly trivia, John Lithgow was so goofy looking in his relative youth, that guy who was the captain of the Love Boat and also the dad in ALF has an important part, and Wallace Shawn, of Manhattan, My Dinner with André and The Princess Bride fame appears in the most poorly calculated scene in the movie (Fosse wasn't scrutinizing his film enough if he left it in), has one line, and it is the worst line in the entire film. Damn, I wish I could remember it! 9/10.
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A couple more pieces of ironic casting
elb227-18 October 2006
I just saw the movie for the first time since its initial release and was struck by how well it holds up. The casting alone is quite remarkable, the set design is often striking, and the entire roman-a-clef peek inside the life of Bob Fosse remains fascinating.

There are at least two more pieces of "insider" ironic casting that appears to have not been mentioned. One was the casting of Cliff Gorman as the stand-up comedian in the "Lenny"-type movie-within-the-movie (here called "Stand-up"). Gorman originated the part of Lenny Bruce in the original Broadway version of "Lenny," but lost the movie role to Dustin Hoffman.

The other is the casting of Ann Reinking as Gideon's lover. Ann Reinking was Fosse's lover in real life.
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The Most Human Film - Rendered In Pure Artistic Scope ***minimal spoilers***
Vinnie Kmetz12 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Does art imitate life, or vice-versa? The brilliance of this film is that it suggests that they are imitating one another and the original, authentic part is the soul. That's too grandiose a sentiment, but here's what I mean: Does the sexy, risqué dance rehearsal number come from what is best about Gideon (his command and imagination in the art) or what is his worst, (his womanizing and failure to give honest commitment to those that love him in lieu of sexual gratification)? In the scene juxtaposing Gideon's open heart surgery with the conference on the insurance value of the show (one of the most compelling scenes in cinematic history; it manages to be graphic while maintaining dark comedic cadence) is Fosse making the cynical satirical point that life is cheap because a fiscal value CAN be put on it? Or is he mocking the cynics with a hard penance of life's bloody fragility right in the face? Those are philosophic points to be sure and there's such a rich variety of them in this movie, as to dazzle the mind. But to just concentrate on the cerebral is only half the wonder of this film which is a strong contender for Top 20 status in this writer's mind.

The other half - pure Fosse - is the range of artistic expression utilized to present an integrated total whole. It's a movie that takes you the viewer on your own artistic journey from the guts of a production to the unseen polished art in Gideon's heart and mind, where even mortal death must be turned into art to be defeated. Shots of tedious life are shot in tedious muted tones, the footage looks raw at these times and if it owes anything to Fellini it's that the more hyper the closeup or edit to sparse angles, the more "real" the subject becomes and the LESS you feel you are watching a film.

Time doesn't permit me to go on, and I don't know if any new viewers will even see this review - but if they are reading this, and you love great cinema - this is it.

pax vk
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Unmistakably Fosse With Strokes Both Self-Indulgent and Brilliant
Ed Uyeshima18 July 2006
With the kinetic edits capturing fully the energy of a Broadway cattle call and punctuated perfectly by George Benson's jazzy version of "On Broadway", the opening sequence of Bob Fosse's 1979 autobiographical musical extravaganza is so dazzling that the rest of the movie feels like a series of climaxes awaiting the big finish...literally. Fosse, who also co-wrote the script with Robert Alan Arthur, encapsulates his own hectic life into a patently self-indulgent movie with unmistakable style and verve and isolated moments of sheer brilliance. His doppelganger is Joe Gideon, who is juggling a major Hollywood film about a stand-up comic (like "Lenny") and a major Broadway production starring his ex-wife (like "Chicago"), while simultaneously dealing with his failing heart and a splintered domestic life. A demanding perfectionist, Gideon drives himself with unbounded energy, a heavy smoking habit and an excess of medications. This leads him to the hospital where he faces a personal abyss monitored by the Angel of Death, here a diaphanous woman named Angelique. Gideon's pending mortality starts to take on the stamp of his own productions until reality and fantasy become indistinguishable.

As anyone who has seen "8 1/2" knows, Fosse's film has a Felliniesque aura about it, but the dancer/director/choreographer brings his own unmistakable brand to the film with his rhythmic pacing, unique choreography and show biz savvy. It's a blend that sometimes works quite well, for example, in the erotically charged "Take Off With Us" number and the sweet pas de deux between Ann Reinking and Erzsebet Foldi on Peter Allen's "Everything Old Is New Again". Yet, at other times, Fosse comes across as narcissistic and self-serving, especially during the extensive death sequence set to the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love". Luckily, Fosse cast Roy Scheider as Gideon, a smart move given the actor's innate lack of vanity makes the character's self-absorption more tolerable. It's a smart performance well turned and not overly excessive given the opportunity. The rest of the cast is serviceable though little more - Broadway veteran Leland Palmer as Gideon's ex-wife Audrey, obviously modeled after the legendary Gwen Verdon; Reinking playing a variation of herself as girlfriend Kate; and Jessica Lange, just after the "King Kong" fiasco, most alluring as Angelique. The 2003 DVD is fairly modest on extras - scene-specific commentary from Scheider, brief interview snippets with Scheider, and very brief vintage footage of Fosse directing the cattle call sequence.
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All That Life
khosravim16 June 2007
I want to name it a film, not a movie (a word i dislike to say) because of its straight reflections form Fellini and Visconti and specially Godard's cinema. Guiseppe Retonno on the camera, Roy Scheider on the "stage" and Bob Fosse as a director, They have invited us to watch one of the greatest autobiographical films in the film history. It references to "eight and a half" (a Fellini film about a director who straggles between the women of his life and the film he can't make) and Godard's 60's films (Specially "A Woman is a woman", with a reference in this film to Fosse's directions in theater: the films pauses and Anna Karina has a sentence: Careography by Bob Fosse!). The shots of All That Jazz reminds us to Godard shots, and subjective narration remind us to Fellini. The Theme of the film, A director in the search of a way to make his own film (that would never been made) is also The theme of Fellini's masterpiece, and reminds us to Fellini's world. But all that jazz i said is bullshit! This is a film about life and death. It seems to be a person who has made this film, is drunken the cup of life to the end. I remind you one of the final scenes which Joe Giddeon kisses an old woman, and of course it doesn't need to remind the final "Number" With an eternal song: Bye bye life, bye bye happiness, hello loneliness... . I have never seen a movie like this which shows us the deepest dreams of a man in show business and his own cinema, and of course his own family and his own love. This is an eternal film that i can't describe it with the words. Some films are being honored to get Palme d'or but this film has gloried the Palme d'or. Some films are more than a film and i think this is one of them.
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Razzmatazz and Ballyhoo
haridam015 April 2006
The fact that this thinly disguised Bob Fosse bio turned out so well makes it even more weird to watch today. Especially now knowing of this great choreographer's real-life demise at so early an age.

All the glitz, glamor and fizz of creating works for Broadway audiences is here in sweaty abundance. Fosse chain-smokes, pops pills and stresses his way to health challenges . . . only to stylize out of it a big dance number! Roy Schneider throws himself into the proceedings with total abandonment, as does the rest of the hard-working cast. For me, it's tough going all the way, having lived in the Big Apple for a while and experienced the pulse and beat of the Great White Way. 'Tain't no picnic, chum.

Also the bizarre demands of Broadway audiences, hungry for increased sensationalism and daring bravura: more twists, turns, leaps and falls--no matter the physical devastation upon fine young bodies.

The plight of having to outdo one's self after each breathtaking piece of work falls on the likes of acrobats, magicians, dancers and choreographers.

Where does it end? Here on the operating table and a great show-stopping finale to the grave.
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Somewhat enjoyable, but terribly overblown
Oblomov_8125 August 2000
I can't help having sympathy for "All That Jazz." There are many fine parts to it, such as Roy Scheider's powerful performance and the opening dance number. But it is a film that gets buried under its own excessive weight, with too much hokeyness, too many gags, and badly overblown fantasy sequences.

I know that this was a labor of love for Fosse, and that it has eerie similarities to his death several years later. Yet every time it feels like Fosse is about to make a serious emotional statement, he ruins it with a silly fantasy or pointless dance routine. This is probably why the scenes with his wife and daughter are among the best, because they're the only ones that don't get interrupted by glitter and gaudiness.

Bob Fosse could have made a film that depicted the struggle of the Broadway artist, that really showed us the ups, downs, and betweens of working in showbiz. He almost did. But he felt the need to make it into what looks like a precursor of MTV, and ruined the experience for the rest of us.
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Excellent! Highest Rating!
redravensounds13 December 2004
"All that Jazz" is one of my favorite movies on many levels. As a professional dancer, I scrutinize it choreographically, I also get major butterflies watching the cattle call at the start of the movie. Nothing like being treated as a numerical piece of dancing meat. That is EXACTLY how it is. I get a major kick out of watching that poor guy who is totally lost, and is desperately trying to follow the other dancers, rather than picking up the choreography from the dance mistress. Yup, there is usually one of those and you have to give them credit for being at the cattle call in the first place. The "airline" combination was incredible, and right on dead perfect! I was grabbing for air by the end of it, just like the dancers on the screen! The combination that was done by Ann Reinking and the girl playing Joe Gideons daughter to "Everything Old is New Again" was just as the others, spot on. Ann Reinking is an incredible dancer! Now as to the non-dancing aspects.... Joe Gideon is an everything-a-holic, and those people really do exist. They are totally consumed, and they will burn out pretty fast, thus the morning ritual, of cigarette, Vivaldi, Alka-Seltzer Visine, and a Dexie. Not a very good way to live....... he is trapped between his art, his "a-holism" and his love for his daughter, which is the steadying force in his life. Roy Sheider plays that part magnificently, and in an almost heartbreaking fashion. He really nailed it. The choreography in the dream sequence was once again absolutely incredible and absolutely Fosse. Just wow..... Finally, his death finale was the way any artist would like to check out.... dancing and busting there gut for an audience...... Although Joe Gideon truly bombed in his relationship bag, he blew the top off in everything else he did... although the movie he was trying to shoot, was clearly not his best effort, and he was never very happy with the "Stand-Up"...... And how better to end a movie about dancing and the "Biz" than with Ethel Merman singing "There's No Business Like Show Business!" I can't think of a better, or more gritty movie, than "All That Jazz"
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"All That Jazz" leaves the audience feeling left out.
poetrysweetheart30 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A semi-autobiographical musical that leaves the viewer feeling confused and slightly disappointed, "All That Jazz" was directed by Bob Fosse and released in 1979. Following the life of Joe Gideon, played by Roy Scheider, as he choreographs, womanizes, and abuses his way to self-destruction, "All That Jazz" actually chronicles the life of Bob Fosse – a well-known musical theatre choreographer and director, screenwriter, and film director. While the art direction is superb, the costumes nearly flawless, and the score really, really moving, I kept waiting for the film to get better, and it never did. Between the wide area of subject matter (from the movie that Gideon was supposedly editing, to rehearsals for a new musical that he was staging, to his various complicated relationships with his ex-wife, girlfriend, and daughter), not actually knowing who Bob Fosse is, and the random, seemingly nonsensical Angel of Death (Jessica Lange) scenes, I spent the entire movie feeling like I was on the outside of an inside joke.

The movie was choppy. It is not the editing and transitions that were choppy – and what transitions were choppy were that way for artistic value – but that the film jumped from one area to the next without giving the viewer time to catch up. In one scene you would be watching Gideon direct his dancers in the moves for a number, in the next he would be conversing with Angelique, the Angel of Death, on a topic that seemed to have nothing to do with the rehearsals we had just seen, and then in the next scene, he would be editing a movie that seemed to only be included in "All That Jazz" because it focused on the various stages of death. While some could argue that such choppiness was for artistic value, or that it was to make a specific point, I would say that you lose the value and the point when the movie becomes unintelligible and impossible to keep up with.

The costumes, although there wasn't really all that much to them until the closing scene, were great. The mis-matched leotards and leg warmers contrasting with business suits and button-down shirts, only seemed to add to the gritty, slightly maniacal feel of the movie itself. The score was my favorite part of the film – along with the final number where Gideon sings to an audience of the movie's entire cast. The score was sharp and impeccably crafted and worked endlessly to try to create emotions and reactions that the choppiness of the film itself only took away from. The color, also, was incredibly well done, and could be appreciated most in scenes like the one where Joe is taken to the hospital, when the walls and the doctors' uniforms are all starkly white, giving the messy, colorful Gideon the air of being out of place and too contrary to save.

The actors did what they could with a script that was jumbled and confused. Gideon had incredible chemistry with all of the women he had to work with on the screen, excepting Jessica Lange as Angelique – his scenes with her seemed wooden and out of place. However, his chemistry with Leland Palmer, who plays his former wife; Erzsabet Foldi, his daughter; Cynd Charisse, his mistress; and Deborah Geffner as a one-night stand is all fantastic – and all four of them manage to hold their own in solo scenes or interactions with each other. Roy Scheider himself carries the entire movie, giving an impassioned and heart-wrenching performance as the destructive, lonely Joe Gideon which gives the movie most of its soul and, for me, most of its value.

Far more messy in the way that it is told and the subject matter that it tries to cover than other musicals – "Chicago" comes to mind – "All That Jazz" is a movie that, I believe, could have lasting value for those who know enough about Bob Fosse to appreciate the story that it tries to tell and the nuances – such as his ritual of declaring, "It's showtime, folks!" to himself in the mirror every morning – that it covers. However, if you are like me and have no idea who Bob Fosse is or of the impact that he seems to have had on American musical theatre and film, then the movie might not do much for you. It'll probably even make you feel left out.
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Wonderful, one of Bob Fosse's best films
TheLittleSongbird12 August 2014
The script is a bit of a jumble at times, with the odd groaner particularly with Wallace Shawn's one line(the worst line of the film and Shawn is wasted) and Schneider and Lange's chemistry comes across as a little wooden. But everything else about All That Jazz is so great, it is one of the better 1970s musicals and one of the most unique ones you'll see anywhere along with Ken Russell's The Boy Friend. All That Jazz looks spectacular, the editing, costumes and art direction all won Oscars that were richly deserved. The editing and cinematography is some of the most imaginative of any musical, the costumes are rich in colour and the art direction is wonderfully opulent. The score also won an Oscar which was also deserved, it captures all the glitz and glamour of musical theatre brilliantly with no over-sentimentalising. The songs are ones that you will have no trouble remembering, Take Off With Us being the highlight. And they are superbly staged and imaginatively shot with choreography that is unlike what you've seen before and since, plus it is very rhythmically driven(again the very erotic Take Off With Us is the standout, though Everything Old is New Again is very sweet). The reality parts of the story blend surprisingly well with the more fantasy-like ones, the reality stuff is often hard-hitting and unpleasant but very real like Joe Gideon himself while the fantasy has a real surrealism to it. Fosse's direction is truly impressive, yes some scenes like the death sequence is a touch self-indulgent but there is his usual pizazz and rhythmic precision while also very Fellini-esque, reminding one somewhat of 8 1/2. Roy Schneider gives a blistering career-best performance as a very sordid character with a good amount of complexity. Jessica Lange is alluring, Leland Palmer is equally solid and Ann Reinking is equally charming. The director-daughter relationship is touchingly done. Overall, a wonderful, if somewhat divisive, musical and one of Fosse's best alongside Cabaret. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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An Artistic View on Life
RyanCShowers8 August 2013
Artistic people probably do not understand how creatively-lacking people function in their day to day lives. Uncreative people judge artists are pretentious, ridiculous, and unrealistic because of their own lack in understanding of an artistic mind. Ignorance no longer need be a problem, not once you see All That Jazz. I've never seen an artist's thinking, inspiration, and life depicted better in a more flashy, colorful, and wild film.The protagonist, Joe Gideon is for the first two thirds of the film, practically never captured on screen without a cigarette on his lips. Watching All That Jazz is like stealing the cigarette from his mouth and inhaling his artistic expression.

The most obvious aspect of All That Jazz that is successful is the manner in which its technically made. Bob Fosse is the director here and each scene is directed with such precision, you can feel the real-life, artistic pain melt off the screen. In a film that centers itself around dancing, the choreography is feisty, swift, and collectible complex and inventive. The sets and costumes are dazzling and prove the film cares about it's look just as much it does entertaining us and even more so than both of those, it makes a priority of saying something about artists. The film editing is used as a poem of madness and completely works for All That Jazz.

The grounding strength of All That Jazz is Roy Scheider being front and center breathing life and artistic "smoke" into the film. Never a moment where he takes things too far, everything is held back like a man who has bit off more than he could chew would hold things back. Scheider is perfectly astute and the film wouldn't be the same without his understanding of the character and story. All That Jazz is centered around a flawed man with a drug addiction, uncontrollable sexual desires, stress levels that go through the roof, and personal relationships that have more bumps than they are smooth. Yet, we understand this man's life and work because of Scheider.

All That Jazz is bright, flashy, and seeking attention to this business and lifestyle. Artistic people are misunderstood by people as some sort of hippie that tries to sway away from "the norm" any chance they get. No, they understand themselves and feel they have something to share with the world. They see the world differently than "normal" people do. They have a firmer grasp on what things mean to them. It almost feels like a style of film Fellini would be directing. All That Jazz is in tune with the the work, the stress, and the real-life hardships that come as a package deal in the entertainment industry. The film is like shining bright lights on big distress.

Through this wild, raunchy film, Fosse makes a commentary on an artist's experience understandable to the common man in a very entertaining way. All That Jazz reinvents the word style, flashing new visuals, songs, and choreography at us every minute. Filled with art, dance, and personal expression, All That Jazz will suffocate you with its fantastically told metaphor of an artist's life.
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While it's VERY hard to care about the main character, the film is one of a kind!
MartinHafer24 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is about an EXTREMELY manic Broadway producer (Roy Scheider) who burns the candle at both ends--pushing himself in such an extreme and unhealthy way that eventually he has a heart attack in the midst of a production. Will he survive? Well, while waiting to find out, the film takes an amazing turn. Up until the heart attack, it's a SOMEWHAT conventional film about the making of a play. BUT, after the attack, it suddenly becomes VERY surreal--with many song and dance numbers that explore death! In this sense, the film really is a lot like Fellini's "8 1/2"--but with song and dance numbers! I could say more...but don't want to spoil what happens next. Just hold on...the final scene is one of the most amazingly stunning in film history!!

"All That Jazz" is one of those rare films that I didn't particularly enjoy BUT I really respected what it tried to do. While it is similar, in some ways, to a few other films (such as "42nd Street"), the total package is wholly unique--and for that reason alone it deserves to be seen. But, I am warning you, it's very possible you won't like a lot of the film because the leading man is pretty awful--drinking to excess, using drugs to excess, using women to excess--heck, doing EVERYTHING to excess! Interestingly, the film's director, Bob Fosse, intended this as a sort of autobiography--so I assume Fosse was a very talented but incredibly screwed up man...AND, he welcomed the world to see this!! This was either a case of incredible narcissism or perhaps a cry for help or understanding--I have no idea which the case might be! I mentioned how "All That Jazz" is a lot like "42nd Street". This is because in "42nd Street" (the film), Warner Baxter is in many ways the manic Broadway producer that Scheider is in "All That Jazz"--and, in the end, he burns himself out and dies--all for the sake of the show. As far as "8 1/2" goes, it's much more likely you've seen that and it's a very strange film that explores a film director whose life is VERY hectic and he retreats into fantasy and day dreams to cope with his out of control life. All these films are well worth seeing and would make a great triple-feature.

By the way, less than a decade after "All That Jazz", Fosse really DID die of a heart attack at age 60. Talk about art imitating life!! NOTE: This film has many adult themes, language and nudity. Think twice before showing this to your mother or kids.
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Roy Scheider is great
treeline15 June 2009
Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse wrote and directed this movie based on his own life. Fosse is represented by the character Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) and the film is a series of surreal, kaleidoscopic, frenzied vignettes which show Joe's obsession with and love for his work, his womanizing, and his drug use.

Scheider gives a dazzling performance and is a talented dancer. Nominated for nine Oscars and winner of four, the movie features non-stop dancing in the energetic, sensual Fosse style, but sadly, no music from his Broadway musicals. It would be of particular interest to dancers and Broadway show fans.
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Definitely, "there's no business like show business"!
Cristian23 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" its not only the best movie to understand some of the work of this big artist, is too the best movie that have ever seen about show business, maybe even better than classic and great "42nd Street" and "A Chorus Line", which, like much of you may probably know, is a don't perfect but lovely adaptation of famous musical play. "All That Jazz" is besides, one of the most bitter musicals (With "Pink Floyd The Wall" and "Dancer in the Dark") that i have ever seen. But this one gives you an entertaining and noisy view of the life of an artist. Then, is silence ...

The story is a perfect portrait of Bob Fosse's life and his thoughts about life, family, childhood, music, money, women, sex, believes, cigarettes and of course ... show business. The movie told us the story of Joe Gideon, a very knew artist in show business. But he has an illness. Now he look to present, to past and to future. Angelique is waiting him ... Roy Sheider (Steven Spielberg "Jaws"), Jessica Lange, Ann Reinking (Close, very close friend of Fosse who mades with Vereen -who appears too in this movie- famous "Fosse", a musical homage on Broadway), Leland Palmer, Ben Vereen, Erzsebet Foldi, Michael Tolan and Deborah Geffner stars in this perfect portrait of show business, dreams and tears.

Bob Fosse's works in theater and movies are impossible to forget for those who has witnessed (Obviously i cannot see their plays - only parts in video - i born 4 years after his death, but thank God i have his movies to enjoy). His works in stage and screen includes "Cabaret" (Which, years after made his own movie adaptation), "Sweet Charity" (His film debut later. A marvelous adaptation to Fellini's "Notti di Cabiria", which are marvelous, funny and touching), "The Pajama Game", "Damn Yankees", "Pippin", "Dancin'", "The Affairs of Dobie Gills" (With Debbie Reynolds), "Give a Girl a Break", "Kiss me Kate", "How to Succesed in Business without a Really Trying", "The Little Prince" (As the Snake), "Lenny", "All That Jazz" and his last work "Star 80". In all his work we see a real artist working. Excellent as choreographer, director, writer and actor. And we can see perfectly this in "All That Jazz". And if much see it as a pretentious work, its because maybe they cant see how the really show business is. "All That Jazz" is a fabulous work that much of us maybe can appreciate. Is more than Fosse's life, is about his dreams, about his point of view of life, death and stage. The point of view of an artist who love its works, but a work that demands much (The related topic of Ingmar Bergman's "Smulstronstället"). Then begins health and family problems. And we see that show business can be actually a good thing, but here is a question that not even me can answered ... the show business really worth? However, Bob Fosse demonstrate to the world his amazing world. He lives a life of light and dance. But too lives a world (If we follow "All That Jazz") of pain. Bob Fosse's life is a great teaching of survival to all that crap of selfishness of the same show business, and how is ore important the artist vision, how the art - which contains the thoughts, the love for anyone ... the point of view- cares much than the show business.

One of the best musicals that i have ever seen.

*Sorry for the mistakes ... well, if there any.
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Step, Slide, Shake, Shuffle, Strut, Wink.
tfrizzell7 August 2006
Spooky and eerie semi-autobiography by co-writer/director Bob Fosse (Oscar nominated in both categories) shows a Broadway choreographer/film-maker (Oscar nominee Roy Scheider) trying to stay wired and alert via hot showers, prescription medications, eye-drops, liquor and various women. The objective: achieve God-like status via his crafts. But Scheider's antics come at a price as overwork, exhaustion, a weakening body and a total disregard for medical opinions threaten to end his life much too soon. An angelic observer (a very young Jessica Lange) discusses Scheider's life in whacked dream sequences that swing with musical twists. One of the better masterpieces of the era as Fosse's life is in full-display, even going so far as having shoddily hidden references to past theatrical successes "Cabaret" and "Lenny". Accolades (the vast majority of public opinion) are looked at as grains of salt while rare detractors throw emotional stones that are debilitating and damaging. Fosse is definitely one of the more interesting film-makers in the history of the cinema and "All That Jazz" ends up being a difficult, endearing and dominant success that foreshadows the all-world director's ultimate demise a few years after this film's 1979 release. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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