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.


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]


Joe Gideon is a theater director and choreographer trying to balance staging his latest Broadway musical, NY/LA, while editing a Hollywood film he has directed, The Stand-Up. He is a workaholic who chain-smokes cigarettes and a womanizer who constantly flirts and has sex with a stream of women. Each morning, to keep himself going, he plays a tape of Vivaldi and takes doses of Visine, Alka-Seltzer, and Dexedrine, always finishing by looking at himself in the mirror and telling himself "It's showtime, folks!". Joe's ex-wife, Audrey Paris, is involved with the production of the show, but disapproves of his womanizing ways. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Katie Jagger and daughter Michelle keep him company. In his imagination, he flirts with an angel of death named Angelique in a nightclub setting, chatting with her about his life.

As Joe continues to be dissatisfied with his editing job, repeatedly making minor changes to a single monologue, he takes his anger out on the dancers and in his choreography, putting on a highly sexualized number with topless women during one rehearsal and frustrating both Audrey and the show's penny-pinching backers. The only moment of joy in his life occurs when Katie and Michelle perform a Fosse-style number for Joe as an homage to the upcoming release of The Stand-Up, moving him to tears. During a particularly stressful table-read of NY/LA, Joe experiences severe chest pains and is admitted to the hospital with severe angina. Joe brushes off his symptoms, and attempts to leave to go back to rehearsal, but 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. NY/LA is postponed, but Gideon continues his antics from the hospital bed, continuing to smoke and drink while having endless strings of women come through his room; as he does, his condition continues to deteriorate, despite Audrey and Katie both remaining by his side for support. A negative review for The Stand-Up — which has been released during Joe's time in the hospital — comes in despite the film's monetary success, and Gideon has a massive coronary event.

As Joe undergoes coronary artery bypass surgery, the producers of NY/LA realize that the best way to recoup their money and make a profit is to bet on Gideon's dying: the insurance proceeds would result in a profit of over half a million dollars. As Gideon goes on life support, he directs extravagant musical dream sequences in his own head starring his daughter, wife, and girlfriend, who all berate him for his behavior; he realizes he cannot avoid his own death, and has another heart attack. As the doctors try to save him, Joe runs away from his hospital bed behind their backs and explores the basement of the hospital and the autopsy ward before he allows himself to be taken back. He goes through the five stages of grief — anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance — featured in the stand-up routine he had been editing, and as he gets closer to death, his dream sequences become more and more hallucinatory. As the doctors try one more time to save him, Joe imagines a monumental variety show featuring everyone from his past where he takes center stage in an extensive musical number. In his dying dream, Joe is able to thank his family and acquaintances as he cannot from his hospital bed, and his performance receives a massive standing ovation. Joe finally dreams of himself traveling down a hallway to meet Angelique at the end, but the film then abruptly cuts to his corpse being zipped up in a body bag.






With increasing production costs and a loss of enthusiasm for the film, Columbia brought in Fox to finance completion, and the latter studio 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 story's structure closely mirrors Fosse's own health issues at the time. While trying to edit Lenny and choreograph Chicago, Fosse suffered a massive heart attack and underwent open heart surgery. [9]

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 . [10] 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. [11]

Critical reception

Reviews were largely positive. All That Jazz scores an 85% "Fresh" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Director Bob Fosse and star Roy Scheider are at the top of their games in this dazzling, self-aware stage drama about a death-obsessed director-choreographer." [12]

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." [13]

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]." [14]

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." [15]

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." [16]

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". [17] 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. [18] 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 Nominations

YearAwardCategoryRecipient (s)Result
1979 Academy Awards 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 Score (Adaptation/Song Score) Ralph Burns Won
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Philip Rosenberg, Tony Walton
Set Decoration: Edward Stewart, Gary Brink
Best Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno Nominated
Best Costume Design Albert Wolsky Won
Best Film Editing Alan Heim Won
1980 British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Roy ScheiderNominated
Best Cinematography Giuseppe RotunnoWon
Best Sound Maurice Schell, Dick Vorisek
Christopher Newman
Best Production Design Philip RosenbergNominated
Best Costume Design Albert WolskyNominated
Best Editing Alan HeimWon
1980 Golden Globe Award Best Actor - Musical or Comedy Film Roy ScheiderNominated
1980 Cannes Film Festival Palme D'Or Bob FosseWon
1980 New York Film Critics Circle Best Director Bob Fosse3rd place
1979 National Society of Film Critics Best Actor Roy ScheiderNominated
1979 American Cinema Editors Best Edited Feature Film Alan HeimWon
1979 Japan Academy Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Bob FosseNominated
1979 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. [20]


The final dance sequence of All That Jazz is depicted in FX's Fosse/Verdon starring Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse. The series' executive producer and Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda played the dual role of Joe Gideon/Roy Scheider. [21]

The film is referenced heavily in the Better Call Saul episode: "Mijo". [22] During the episode, there is a montage in which Jimmy's (Bob Odenkirk) routine is revealed: Grabbing his coffee, defending clients, collecting his check, and his ongoing battle with the parking attendant, Mike (Jonathan Banks). During his routine he always looks in the mirror as states, “It’s showtime, folks!” a line from Bob Fosse's All That Jazz .

Season 3 Episode 5 of GLOW "Freaky Tuesday" opens with the same Verdi concerto music while the character Tammé is shown struggling, with the help of pills and wine and hot showers, to wake up every morning and tamp down her back pain while continuing to perform as a wrestler each night.

Related Research Articles

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  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  3. "All That Jazz, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. 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. DVD review in The Onion: A.V. Club Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  7. 1 2 "Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide" page 26
  8. Julie, Miller (15 May 2019). "Fosse/Verdon: How Bob Fosse's Near-Death Experience Inspired All That Jazz". Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  9. All His Jazz: The Life & Death of Bob Fosse by Martin Gottfried, Da Capo Press, 1990
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  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". Archived from the original on 14 October 2009. 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.
  20. "Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells Us How Fosse/Verdon Pulled Off His Secret Cameo". TheatreMania. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  21. "Better Call Saul Borrows From Breaking Bad, But It's Already Coming Into Its Own". Vulture . Retrieved April 22, 2020.