It’s Showtime, Folks!

All that Jazz was the best way to end the flashy 1970’s. Making it the final musical nominated for Best Picture in over a decade. Music based film’s thrived in the 80’s, but they just weren’t as prestigious as they used to be. Bob Fosse kept them alive with Cabaret and made his last big mark with the semi-autobiographical All that Jazz. Joe Gideon is unmistakably Bob Fosse. Both are a director and choreographer with a series of vices. Joe is an overworked chainsmoker with the same routine of showering, popping pills, applying eye drops, and saying “It’s showtime, folks!” in the mirror. Joe’s most prominent vices are his frequent sexual conquests.

All that Jazz is loaded with scantily clad dancers and topless women. Joe frequently cheats on his girlfriend Katie played by Fosse’s real life partner Ann Reinking. Leland Palmer plays his supportive dancer ex-wife Audrey based on Fosse’s wife Gwen Verdon. They not so surprisingly have a daughter named Michelle that he tries to do right by. Roy Schneider toes a fine line between sleazy and sympathetic. There’s a lot going on, but All that Jazz is easy to follow. Joe deals with editing a film called The Stand-Up based on Lenny. The movie plays in the background with actor Cliff Gorman going through the 5 stages of grief.

At the same time Joe works to choreograph the stage show NY/LA based on Chicago. The title is of course taken directly from the famous lyric. Sexually charged numbers like them are why All that Jazz won Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, and Original Score. The movie has more of a fantasy angle with Joe telling his life story to Jessica Lange as the angelic Angelique. Other before they were famous celebrities include John Lithgow as a fellow director. When Joe inevitably suffers a heart attack, he hallucinates an elaborate stage performance. There are plenty of good songs, but the final variety show number “Bye Bye Life” is a big standout. All that Jazz is a musical that gave the decade its last great performance and all that jazz.

All that Jazz

Dancers perform NY/LA

2 thoughts on “It’s Showtime, Folks!

  1. I saw some of the film on Movies! some time ago, and it did have an interesting feel and look to it. What made the film stick out for me was that Bob Fosse does kind of predict his own death that would happen a few years later. I give him a lot of credit for putting so much himself into Joe Gideon.

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