All That Jazz (1979)

About a month ago, Steven from Surrender to the Void suggested me All That Jazz and since I loved Bob Fosse's Cabaret, I decided to check it out (it did take me a while to find this film though).

The film revolves around Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), a director and choreographer who is simultaneously working on a Hollywood movie picture and on a Broadway production. At the same time, Gideon keeps leading his excessive lifestyle, by being a chain-smoking, hard-drink and drug-taking womanizer.

If you know Bob Fosse, then you've probably guessed that Joe Gideon is his alter-ego and that All That Jazz is an autobiographical film. If you don't, like me, don't worry, you'll still be able to enjoy the film's original and clever plot that may look a little disjointed at first but, as the movie moves forward, it all falls into place and you'll be amazed by how brilliant it is.

But the plot, regardless of the fact that is based on Fosse's life, isn't that important as the film is most of all a very interesting and captivating character study. Gideon is a man who is slowly killing himself without even realizing it, who is obsessed with pleasing and entertaining others. The most fascinating aspect of Joe Gideon is the very negative light the character is shown in as this is Bob Fosse bring on the screen his life and therefore acknowledging what he's been doing to himself.

Roy Scheider's performance as Joe Gideon is nothing short of spectacular. He brings depth, strength, but also suffering and loneliness to him, he creates a character that is both charming and detestable, and he is able to make this quite horrible and irresponsible man very sympathetic. I haven't seen much from him but I doubt any other of his performances can top this.

20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures
The supporting characters aren't as developed as Gideon, but they are still engaging and compelling as they have some interesting relationships with Gideon and they are very well portrayed by the cast. Definitely worth of a mention are Jessica Lange as the Angel of Death, Leland Palmer as Gideon's suffering ex-wife and Anne Reinking as Gideon's lover.

All That Jazz also features many memorable scenes, like those when Gideon uses his thumbs and forefingers to frame his face and says, "It's showtime, folks!" (it's a repeated scene) or the breathtaking opening sequences. Which brings me to the musical numbers, they all are terrific and still manage to be sensual and fresh after all this time.

Another outstanding aspect of the film is the editing. It is masterfully done and it reflects the way Gideon feels to perfection. And the cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno is jawdropping. 


  1. Un classico degli anni '70, con un grandissimo Roy Scheider. Complimenti per averlo riportato alla luce! :)

    1. Bisogna ringraziare un collega blogger per questo :) Se non me lo avesse consigliato lui probabilmente non l'avrei mai visto

  2. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it as it's one of the few musicals that I really enjoyed as I always preferred Bob Fosse over most filmmakers in that genre. He just knows how to get it right but also push boundaries of what can be done.

    1. Thank you for recommending it. I will check out the rest of his filmography as well.