ALL THAT JAZZ (1979)


STARDUST AND SHADOWS is currently enjoying the MAD  ABOUT MUSICALS free online course presented by Ball State University and  TCM.   In keeping with that theme, my brain went back to  the Bob Fosse Directed  film ALL THE JAZZ which perhaps will get mentioned in this course.

ALL THAT JAZZ is a huge favorite of mine since it  came out in the  theatre.  I have seen it many time and  still marvel at the sheer audacity of it’s  story,  the  musical numbers and  the  thought  of  choreographing one’s  death on stage and  screen

The picture  stars  non musical Roy Scheider as  self  destructive Theatre Director Joe  Gideon during  his final days.    Scheider gets some high powered Broadway help in the persons  of  Fosse dancer/lover  Ann Reinking  and Leland Palmer  and  Ben Vereen plsu a host of others  that populate this wickedly  cynical music  fantasy.  Without  going into plot: ALL THAT JAZZ features some wonderful  hellish moments  of  venom and  sadness all climaxed with  a  brilliant final musical number.

One  wonders why Bob Fosse  would cast an ex boxer/non musical actor like Roy Scheider in the lead  role but it  succeeds.   Scheider’s weary  face  and laconic delivery of some of the best single lines in the  film make it a  good  choice.  Being an ex fighter Scheider would have the physical look for this look brutal, sweaty world of  Dance and the stage.   Performers,  sweat here,  the  cry here,  the  get injured in both their body and their hearts here. Pills get popped, wine  gets drunk and  relationships mutate. Roy Scheider’s  thin  sinewy frame  seems to hold it all in while reliving his past and  flirting with the embodiment of  Death itself in the person of  white dressed   Jessica  Lange

The  cinematography  of  Italian Giuseppe Rotunno is without a doubt  some of the best to be shot in the small world of the Theatre.   Dark gloss blacks, bright lights, Neon signs. mirrors, smoke plus  brief moments  on the real streets of  New York make it a  real treat. Interesting to  note  that Rotunno also worked on the  1966  disjointed yet notorious  fantasy film CANDY.

The  costumes all work.  The use of  solid black for  Joe Gideon except when he goes outside he wears  white goat.   All the brights and  dark colors have  delicious urban used  feel to them like the characters these people inhabit.

The  crowd  scenes backstage when  Gideon is  confronted by a irrate yet in effective  film producer and is  chastised  for  ‘going over budget on  editing a  movie while  Gideon is  cutting about a stand up Comic routine is priceless.

The music (yes  there are songs)  all fit with  the  Bob Fosse “Jazz Hands”  dance  moves along with the  “Busby Berkeley on speed” inspired  staging.

ALL THAT JAZZ (1979) caused some trouble(Like he didn’t  already have  enough problems) in Director Bob Fosse’s life as it was thought some of the portrayals of the Broadway people particularly the producers hit a little  to close to home.  Then again Fosse  didn’t  seem to care.

ALL THAT JAZZ (1979) is not  ‘happy musical” yet it has  a  strange  uplifting ending.  Very worthy of been scene  again on the wide screen.

 

 

 

 

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