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All That Jazz

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bob Fosse
Produced by Robert Alan Aurthur
Written by Robert Alan Aurthur
Bob Fosse
Starring Roy Scheider
Jessica Lange
Leland Palmer
Ann Reinking
Music by Ralph Burns
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Editing by Alan Heim
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) {United States:
December 20, 1979
July 17, 1980
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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



Choreographing and casting for dancers for his next Broadway show, while editing his severely over-budgeted and over-scheduled Hollywood production about a stand-up comic, is getting to Joe Gideon. He is a workaholic, choreographer, and theater director who chain-smokes and chain-sleeps with all of his dancers. 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 them 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. Decades of overworking and constant tremendous stress have gotten to Gideon. In his imagination, he already flirts with an angel of death named Angelique.

Gideon's condition gets worse, as after a particularly stressful script rehearsal with the penny-pinching backers, he is taken to a hospital with chest pains and admitted with severe attacks of angina. Joe tries to take it in stride and walk straight back to the rehearsal, but is ordered to stay for three to four weeks to rest his heart and recover from his exhaustion. The show is postponed, but Gideon continues his antics from the hospital bed. Champagne flows, endless strings of women frolic around and the cigarettes are always lit. Cardiogram readings don't show any improvement - Gideon is playing with death. As the paltry reviews for his feature film (which has been released without him) come in, Gideon has a massive coronary and is taken straight to coronary artery bypass surgery.

The backers for the Broadway show must decide now 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 open heart surgery. They realize the best way to recoup their money, even make a profit, is to bet on Gideon dying — which would bring in a profit of over USD$500,000 — not bad in the crazy unpredictable world of showbiz. Meanwhile, elements from Gideon's past life are staged into a dazzling sequence of set-ups — himself directing from the hospital bed, while on life support. Realizing his death is imminent, his mortality unconquerable, Gideon has another heart attack. In glittery musical numbers, he goes through the five phases of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As death closes in on Gideon, the fantasy episodes become more hallucinatory and extravagant and in a final epilogue that is set up as a truly monumental live variety show featuring everyone from his past, Gideon himself takes center stage.



Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon

The film's structure is often compared to Federico Fellini's , another thinly-veiled autobiographical film with fantastical elements.[1][2][3]

Cliff Gorman's role of a difficult and self-obsessed actor portraying a real-life notorious stand-up comic was seen by many as a personal rebuke to Dustin Hoffman, the star of Lenny. Gorman had originated the title role of Lenny Bruce on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for his performance. He had been considered a favorite to reprise the role in the film adaptation but was passed over for a "name" actor, Hoffman.

Gideon's rivalry with Lucas Sergeant is said to closely resemble Fosse's rivalry with Hal Prince, director of Follies and Company.

Gideon's rough handling of chorus girl Victoria Porter closely resembles Fosse's own treatment of Jennifer Nairn-Smith during rehearsals for Pippin.[4] Nairn-Smith herself appears in the film as Jennifer, one of the NY/LA dancers.


The film is available on a "Special Music Edition" DVD released by Fox in 2007. Its Oscar-winning editor, Alan Heim, does the commentary. The previous DVD from 2003 features a scene-specific commentary by Roy Scheider, and interviews with Scheider and Fosse.

Critical reception

All That Jazz scores a 96% "fresh" (or "good") rating on the movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

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."[6]

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]."[7]

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."[8]

Film critic 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."[3]

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."[9]

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In 2006, the film ranked #14 on the American Film Institute's Greatest Movie Musicals list.

Awards and nominations

The film won four Academy Awards and was nominated for a further five:[10]


  • "On Broadway" performed by George Benson
  • "A Perfect Day" performed by Harry Nilsson
  • "Everything Old Is New Again" performed by Peter Allen
  • "Take Off With Us" performed by Anthony Holland
  • "Take Off With Us (Reprise)" performed by Deborah Geffner, Sandahl Bergman, Eileen Casey, Bruce Anthony Davis, Gary Flannery, Jennifer Nairn-Smith, Danny Ruvolo, Leland Schwantes, John Sowinski, Candace Tovar, and Rima Vetter
  • "Hospital Hop" performed by Anthony Holland
  • "After You've Gone" performed by Leland Palmer with Ann Reinking and Erzsebet Foldi
  • "You Better Change Your Ways" performed by Ann Reinking with Leland Palmer and Erzsebet Foldi
  • "Who's Sorry Now?" performed by Ann Reinking with Leland Palmer and Erzsebet Foldi
  • "Some Of These Days" performed by Erzsebet Foldi with Ann Reinking and Leland Palmer
  • "Sing, Sing, Sing" performed by Roy Scheider
  • "Bye Bye Life" (from the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love") performed by Ben Vereen
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" performed by Ethel Merman


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

All That Jazz is a 1979 musical film and semi-autobiographical fantasy about Bob Fosse. A Broadway choreographer chain-smokes, pops pills and overworks his wasy to open heart surgery.

Directed by Bob Fosse. Written by Robert Alan Arthur and Bob Fosse.
All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz. Taglines


Joe Gideon

  • [repeated line] It's showtime, folks!
  • Sometimes, I don't know where the bullshit ends and the truth begins.
  • [to Audrey] If I die, I'm sorry for all the bad things I did to you. [to Katie] And if I live, I'm sorry for all the bad things I'm gonna do to you.
  • Do you supposed Stanley Kubrick ever gets depressed?
  • Stop smiling! Lay back! Lay back! Hold it, hold it, hold it. Candy, Casey, very good. You're gonna do it again, Victoria. Gary, Danny, let's go. Stop smiling, it's not the high school play. Count! Hold it. [to Victoria] Stand on your right foot. Point your left toe. Drop the shoulder. Now, that's not too hard, is it? Again!
  • The pain is gone. I'm OK. Nothing wrong with me a rewrite of the show wouldn't cure. A couple of good jokes is what I need.
  • [last lines, Joe is dying] Hey, at least I won't have to lie to you anymore.


  • O'Connor Flood: Ladies and gentleman, let me lay on you a so-so entertainer, not much of a humanitarian, and this cat was never nobody's friend. In his final appearance on the great stage of life - uh, you can applaud if you want to - Mr. Joe Gideon!
  • O'Connor Flood: [singing] Give it to me! Bye bye life, Bye bye happiness, hello loneliness, I think he's gonna die. Bye bye life, Bye bye happiness, Hello emptiness, I think he's gonna die. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Goodbye your life, goodbye.
  • Audrey Paris: You see, Sammy, in California everybody needs a car. I got a friend who bought a Mercedes just to get to the bathroom.
  • Davis Newman: This chick, man, without the benefit of dying herself, has broken down the process of death into five stages: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sounds like a Jewish law firm. "Good morning, Angerdenialbargainingdepressionacceptance!"
  • Davis Newman: There's all this bullshit about death with dignity. You know what death with dignity is, man? You don't drool.


[first lines]
Joe Gideon: To be on the wire is life. The rest is waiting.
Angelique: That's very theatrical, Joe.
Joe Gideon: Yeah, I know.
Angelique: Did you make that up?
Joe Gideon: I wish I had.

Angelique: Do you believe in love?
Joe Gideon: I believe in saying, "I love you." It helps you concentrate.

Joe Gideon: Katie, I tried to give you everything I could give.
Kate Jagger: Oh, you give all right; presents, clothes. I just wish you weren't so generous with your cock.

Victoria Porter: [crying] No, you're right. I'm terrible. I know I'm terrible. I look in the mirror and I'm embarrassed. Maybe I should quit. I just can't seem to do anything right.
Joe Gideon: Listen, I can't make you a great dancer. I don't even know if I can make you a good dancer. But, if you keep trying and don't quit, I know I can make you a better dancer. I'd like very much to do that. Stay?
Victoria Porter: Are you going to keep yelling at me?
Joe Gideon: Probably.

Audrey Paris: Quick. Tell me. What was the name of the girl in Philadelphia, the blonde with the television show?
Joe Gideon: Ah, the blonde with the television show. The blonde with the television show in Philadelphia? I remember that girl's name. I remember that girl's name because that girl meant something to me. The blonde with the television show - her name was Sweetheart! Honey? Baby? I can't remember her name.
Audrey Paris: Dorothy. Dorothy.
Joe Gideon: Who cares? I can't remember her name.

Joe Gideon: Nothing I ever do is good enough. It's not beautiful enough, it's not funny enough, it's not deep enough, it's not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that's perfect. I mean, that's perfect. I want to look up to God and say "How the hell did you do that? And why the hell can't I do that?"
Angelique: Now that's probably one of your better con lines.
Joe Gideon: Yeah, it it. But that doesn't mean I don't mean it.

Joe Gideon: A great entertainer...
O'Connor Flood: A great entertainer!
Joe Gideon: A great humanitarian...
O'Connor Flood: A great humanitarian!
Joe Gideon: And my dear friend for 25 years...
O'Connor Flood: And my dearest friend for 20 years!
Katie Jagger: You missed by five years, Joe.
Joe Gideon: Oh boy, do I hate show business!
Katie Jagger: Joe, you love show business.
Joe Gideon: Oh, that's right. I love show business. I'll go either way.

Joe Gideon: I always look for the worst in people.
Angelique: A little of yourself in them?
Joe Gideon: Yeah, a little of myself. And generally, I find it.
Angelique: Well, it may take you years, but you'll find it. Oh, you are cute. You are cute.

Michelle Gideon: It's just that I keep wondering, Dad. Why don't you get married again?
Joe Gideon: I don't get married again, because I can't find anyone I dislike enough to inflict that kind of torture on.

Joe Gideon: [about Katie] Why do you suppose she'd put up with this?
Angelique: I could think of many reasons for being with you.
Joe Gideon: Now, don't bullshit a bullshitter.

Dancer Backstage: Oh, fuck him! He never picks me!
Dancer Backstage: Honey, I did fuck him and he never picks me either.

[Katie just finished setting up a dinner date, probably to make Joe jealous.]
Joe Gideon: Who was that?
Katie Jagger: Michael Graham.
Joe Gideon: Who is Michael Graham?
Katie Jagger: A dancer in my ballet class.
Joe Gideon: Straight or gay?
Katie Jagger: What do you mean?
Joe Gideon: I mean, is looking to get laid or is he looking for Mr. Right?
Katie Jagger: He's straight.
Joe Gideon: And tall. [turns to leave] Michael Graham is a very tall name. [leaves his room slowly but comes running back] Ho ho ho... Goddamn you, how dare you use my phone! My telephone! To call someone who is not gay!
Katie Jagger: [laughing] I see! You can go out with any girl in town. Any girl.
Joe Gideon: [pointing] That's right! I go out with any girl in town. I stay in with you.


  • All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz.

Main cast

External links

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