Behind the glamour that one imagines inside of working in the entertainment industry, there’s that miserable soul behind it all who essentially works himself to death. A metaphor representing director Bob Fosse, who notably was staging Chicago yet editing his Academy Award-nominated Lenny at the same time, Fosse’s semi-autobiographical tale, All That Jazz, is not only a picture of the experience in show business, but it is also one of the most, if not the most innovative musicals of its very own kind – such a wonder only comes once in a lifetime it is merely unbelievable.
Roy Scheider’s Joe Gideon, is a fictitious representation of writer-director Bob Fosse. He lives a lifestyle full of nothing but work, smoke heavily, sex, anything that’ll overwork his system much to the point he won’t have enough energy for life. If you’re one who wants to work in such an industry, imagine yourself rushing through so many projects at such a rate, then soon you pretty much become Joe Gideon. It’s amazing how well Bob Fosse creates such a character of himself living such a glamourized lifestyle to a point you’ll think, “Is this really what I’d want?”
Gideon’s lifestyle isn’t all that we’re given, we also are given the many phases of his mind that come in the form of musical numbers. They are rather infrequent in the first portions of the film, but every last one that comes goes to show his state of mind and how it develops as everything moves on. Then suddenly the finale comes along, these fantasies become more intense than ever, capturing a state of fear. It appears optimistic, but look more into what these numbers mean, and suddenly the emotions become even clearer. Fosse’s use of these numbers to represent the state of mind is some of the most clever one can imagine in a long time.
The trademark of a Bob Fosse musical is the seductive choreography. You can take a film like Cabaret or a musical like Chicago and you notice there he has a distinctive style to the dance moves performed in front of your eyes that strike an erotic sense to the mind. It is present once again in All That Jazz, but here Fosse takes it a step further than what you’d remember and every single dance move on the screen just simply becomes nothing but absolutely hypnotizing.
Within the light of something seemingly glamorous what we’re given is a brilliant critique on the business in no other way imaginable, something seductive for the eye, something truly marvelous from beginning to end. A perfectly crafted, edited, honest portrait, what one can ask is how Bob Fosse managed to deal with so much within his life. And then suddenly he turns everything into one imaginative musical fantasy like no other, All That Jazz is one of the most impressive of the genre without any reasonable doubt.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Fox.
Directed by Bob Fosse
Screenplay by Robert Alan Arthur, Bob Fosse
Produced by Robert Alan Aurthur, Daniel Melnick, Wolfgang Glattes, Kenneth Utt
Starring Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, Leland Parker, Ann Reinking
Release Year: 1979
Running Time: 123 minutes