All That Jazz (film)

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All That Jazz
All That Jazz.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bob Fosse
Produced by Robert Alan Aurthur
Daniel Melnick
Wolfgang Glattes
Kenneth Utt
Written byRobert Alan Aurthur
Bob Fosse
Starring Roy Scheider
Jessica Lange
Leland Palmer
Ann Reinking
Music by Ralph Burns
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Edited by Alan Heim
Distributed by20th Century Fox (North America)
Columbia Pictures (International)
Release date
  • December 20, 1979 (1979-12-20)
Running time
123 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million [2]
Box office$37.8 million [3]

All That Jazz is a 1979 American musical drama film directed by Bob Fosse. The screenplay, by Robert Alan Aurthur and Fosse, is a semi-autobiographical fantasy based on aspects of Fosse's life and career as a dancer, choreographer and director. The film was inspired by Fosse's manic effort to edit his film Lenny while simultaneously staging the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago . It borrows its title from the Kander and Ebb tune "All That Jazz" in that production. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

Musical film film genre

Musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing.

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

Bob Fosse American actor, dancer, choreographer, director, and screenwriter

Robert Louis Fosse was an American dancer, musical-theatre choreographer, and theatre and film director. He is known for directing and choreographing musical works on stage and screen, including the stage musicals The Pajama Game (choreography) in 1954 and Chicago in 1975 and the film Cabaret in 1972.


In 2001, All That Jazz was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. [4]

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Library of Congress as the largest library in the world, and the library describes itself as such. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

National Film Registry selection of films for preservation in the US Library of Congress

The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films deserving of preservation. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.


Joe Gideon is a theater director and choreographer trying to balance staging his latest Broadway musical while editing a Hollywood film he has directed. He is a workaholic who chain-smokes cigarettes; 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, 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. In his imagination, he flirts with an angel of death named Angelique.

Antonio Vivaldi Italian baroque period composer, virtuoso violinist and teacher

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque musical composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, and priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, he is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe. He composed many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons.


Visine is a brand of eye drops produced by Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson acquired Visine, along with Pfizer's entire consumer healthcare portfolio, in December 2006. In some countries it is called Vispring.

Alka-Seltzer effervescent antacid and pain reliever

Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever first marketed by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company of Elkhart, Indiana, United States. Alka-Seltzer contains three active ingredients: aspirin (ASA), sodium bicarbonate, and anhydrous citric acid. The aspirin is a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, the sodium bicarbonate is an antacid, and the citric acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate and water to form effervescence.

Gideon's condition gets progressively worse. He is rushed to a hospital after experiencing chest pains during a particularly stressful table-read (with the production's penny-pinching backers in attendance) and is admitted with severe angina. Joe brushes off his symptoms, and attempts to leave to go back to rehearsal. He collapses in the doctor's office, and is ordered to stay in the hospital for several weeks to rest his heart and recover from his exhaustion. The show is postponed, but Gideon continues his antics from the hospital bed, in brazen denial of his mortality. Champagne flows, endless strings of women frolic around his hospital room, and cigarettes are constantly being smoked. As cardiogram readings show no improvement, Gideon dances with death. A negative review for his film—which has been released without him—comes in, and Gideon has a massive coronary event. He undergoes coronary artery bypass surgery.

The read-through, table-read, or table work is a stage of film, television, radio, and theatre production when an organized reading around a table of the screenplay or script by the actors with speaking parts is conducted.

Coronary artery bypass surgery surgical procedure to restore normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery

Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graftsurgery, and colloquially heart bypass or bypass surgery, is a surgical procedure to restore normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery. A normal coronary artery transports blood to and from the heart muscle itself, not through the main circulatory system.

The show's backers must decide whether it's time to pack up, or replace Gideon as the director. Their matter-of-fact, money-oriented negotiations with the insurers are juxtaposed with graphic scenes of Joe's open-heart surgery. The producers realize that the best way to recoup their money and make a profit is to bet on Gideon dying: the insurance proceeds would result in a profit of over half a million dollars. Meanwhile, elements from Gideon's past life are staged in dazzling dream sequences of musical numbers he directs from his hospital bed while on life support. Realizing death is imminent and his mortality unconquerable, Gideon has another heart attack. In the film's glittery finale, he goes through the five stages of grief—anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance—featured in the stand-up routine he had been editing. As death closes in on Gideon, his fantasy episodes become more hallucinatory and extravagant. In an epilogue set up as a monumental variety show featuring everyone from his past, Gideon takes center stage.

Cardiac surgery surgery on the heart or great vessels

Cardiac surgery, or cardiovascular surgery, is surgery on the heart or great vessels performed by cardiac surgeons. It is often used to treat complications of ischemic heart disease ; to correct congenital heart disease; or to treat valvular heart disease from various causes, including endocarditis, rheumatic heart disease, and atherosclerosis. It also includes heart transplantation.

Variety shows, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is entertainment made up of a variety of acts including musical performances, sketch comedy, magic, acrobatics, juggling, and ventriloquism. It is normally introduced by a compère or host. The variety format made its way from Victorian era stage to radio and then television. Variety shows were a staple of anglophone television from the late 1940s into the 1980s.

The final shot shows his corpse being zipped up in a body bag.

Body bag bag designed to contain a human body

A body bag, also known as a cadaver pouch or human remains pouch (HRP), is a non-porous bag designed to contain a human body, used for the storage and transportation of corpses. Body bags can also be used for the storage of corpses within morgues. Before purpose-made body bags were available, cotton mattress covers were sometimes used, particularly in combat zones during the Second World War. If not available, other materials were used such as bed sheets, blankets, shelter halves, ponchos, sleeping bag covers, tablecloths, curtains, parachute canopies, tarpaulins, or discarded canvas—“sealed in a blanket”—slang. However, the subsequent rubber body bag designs are much superior, not least because they prevent leakage of body fluids, which often occurs after death. The dimensions of a body bag are generally around 36 inches by 90 inches. Most have some form of carrying handles, usually webbing, at each corner and along the edges.






With increasing production costs and a loss of enthusiasm for the film, Columbia brought in Fox to finance completion, who acquired domestic distribution rights in return. [5]

The film's structure is often compared to Federico Fellini's , another thinly veiled autobiographical film with fantastic elements. [6] [7] [8]

The part of Audrey Paris—Joe's ex-wife and continuing muse, played by Leland Palmer—closely reflects that of Fosse's wife, the dancer and actress Gwen Verdon, who continued to work with him on projects including Chicago and All That Jazz itself.

Gideon's rough handling of chorus girl Victoria Porter closely resembles Bob Fosse's own treatment of Jennifer Nairn-Smith during rehearsals for Pippin . [9] Nairn-Smith herself appears in the film as Jennifer, one of the NY/LA dancers.

Ann Reinking was one of Fosse's sexual partners at the time and was more or less playing herself in the film, but nonetheless she was required to audition for the role as Gideon's girlfriend, Kate Jagger.

Cliff Gorman was cast in the titular role of The Stand-Up—the film-within-a-film version of Lenny —after having played the role of Lenny Bruce in the original theatrical production of the show (for which he won a Tony Award), but was passed over for Fosse's film version of the production in favor of Dustin Hoffman. [10]

Critical reception

Reviews were largely positive. All That Jazz scores an 86% "Fresh" (or "good") rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews. [11]

In his review in The New York Times , Vincent Canby called the film "an uproarious display of brilliance, nerve, dance, maudlin confessions, inside jokes and, especially, ego" and "an essentially funny movie that seeks to operate on too many levels at the same time... some of it makes you wince, but a lot of it is great fun... A key to the success of the production is the performance of Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon... With an actor of less weight and intensity, All That Jazz might have evaporated as we watched it. Mr. Scheider's is a presence to reckon with." [12]

Variety described it as "a self-important, egomaniacal, wonderfully choreographed, often compelling film" and added, "Roy Scheider gives a superb performance as Gideon, creating a character filled with nervous energy… The film's major flaw lies in its lack of real explanation of what, beyond ego, really motivates [him]." [13]

TV Guide said, "The dancing is frenzied, the dialogue piercing, the photography superb, and the acting first-rate, with non-showman Scheider an illustrious example of casting against type . . . All That Jazz is great-looking but not easy to watch. Fosse's indulgent vision at times approaches sour self-loathing." [14]

Leonard Maltin gave the film two-and-a-half stars (out of four) in his 2009 movie guide; he said that the film was "self-indulgent and largely negative," and that "great show biz moments and wonderful dancing are eventually buried in pretensions"; he also called the ending "an interminable finale which leaves a bad taste for the whole film." [8]

Time Out London states, "As translated onto screen, [Fosse's] story is wretched: the jokes are relentlessly crass and objectionable; the song 'n' dance routines have been created in the cutting-room and have lost any sense of fun; Fellini-esque moments add little but pretension; and scenes of a real open-heart operation, alternating with footage of a symbolic Angel of Death in veil and white gloves, fail even in terms of the surreal." [15]

Upon release in 1979, director Stanley Kubrick, who is mentioned in the movie, reportedly called it "[the] best film I think I have ever seen". [16] In 2001, All That Jazz was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was also preserved by the Academy Film Archive in the same year. [17] In 2006, the film was ranked #14 by the American Film Institute on its list of the Greatest Movie Musicals.

The film would be the last musical nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture until Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 1991, and was the last live-action musical to compete in the category until Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! was nominated over twenty years later.

Awards and honors

Cannes Film Festival

YearAwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
1980 Cannes Film Festival Palme D'Or Bob FosseWon

Academy Awards

YearCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
1979 Best Picture Robert Alan Aurthur Nominated
Best Actor Roy Scheider Nominated
Best Director Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Robert Alan Aurthur and Bob FosseNominated
Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score Ralph Burns Won
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Philip Rosenberg and Tony Walton;

Set Decoration: Edward Stewart and Gary Brink

Best Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno Nominated
Best Costume Design Albert Wolsky Won
Best Film Editing Alan Heim Won

BAFTA Awards

YearCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
1980 Best Actor in a Leading Role Roy ScheiderNominated
Best Cinematography Giuseppe RotunnoWon
Best Sound Maurice Schell, Christopher Newman, Dick Vorisek Nominated
Best Production Design Philip RosenbergNominated
Best Costume Design Albert WolskyNominated
Best Editing Alan HeimWon

Golden Globe Awards

YearCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
1980 Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Roy ScheiderNominated

Other Awards

YearAwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
1980 NYFCC Award Best Director Bob Fosse3rd place
NSFC Award Best Actor Roy ScheiderNominated
American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards Best Edited Feature Film Alan HeimWon
Japan Academy Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Bob FosseNominated
Bodil Awards Best Non-European FilmBob FosseWon

Home media

The DVD issued in 2003 features scene-specific commentary by Roy Scheider and interviews with Scheider and Fosse. Fox released a "Special Music Edition" DVD in 2007, with an audio commentary by the film's Oscar-winning editor, Alan Heim. Blu-ray and DVD editions were released in August 2014 with all the old special features, as well as new supplements through the Criterion Collection brand. [19]

Related Research Articles

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  1. "ALL THAT JAZZ (X)". British Board of Film Classification . 1980-01-28. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  3. "All That Jazz, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  4. "ALL THAT JAZZ". Cannes Film Festival.
  5. Harwood, Jim (April 15, 1980). "'Kramer' Wins Five-Oscar Judgment". Daily Variety . p. 1.
  6. [ dead link ]
  7. DVD review in The Onion: A.V. Club Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  8. 1 2 "Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide" page 26
  9. All His Jazz: The Life & Death of Bob Fosse by Martin Gottfried, Da Capo Press, 1990
  10. Simonson, Robert (13 September 2002). "Cliff Gorman, Broadway's Lenny, Is Dead at 65". Playbill, Inc. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  11. All That Jazz at Rotten Tomatoes
  12. Canby, Vincent (20 December 1979). "The Screen: Roy Scheider Stars in 'All That Jazz':Peter Pan Syndrome". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  13. "Variety review". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  14. "All That Jazz - TV Guide". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  15. Time Out London review Archived 2008-05-07 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Baxter 1997, p. 12.
  17. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  18. "The 75 Best Edited Films". Editors Guild Magazine. 1 (3). May 2012.
  19. "August Titles". Retrieved 2014-05-15.