Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her ... See full summary »
Liza Minnelli stars in a television concert directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. She performs such songs as the title number, "Liza with a 'Z'" and "Son of a Preacher Man". The concert ... See full summary »
In this Fosse variation of Fellini's 81/2, Broadway director, Joe Gideon is in the process of casting the chorus and staging the dance numbers for his latest show, starring his ex-wife, in what is largely a vanity project for her. Joe'sstory (which is really Fosse's own) tells his own life story as a philandering womanising artist.Written by
Brilliant summary of director/Co-writer Fosse's decent into show biz madness and death
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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