All That Jazz 1979 ***

Having made his name as a choreographer, Bob Fosse made the grade as a director with Sweet Charity and Cabaret, and his prowess at staging electric dance routines was integrated into a strong dramatic engine in his final musical, 1979’s All That Jazz. Inspired by Fosse’s own experience of a heart-attack, the film features Roy Schneider as Joe Gideon, a successful Broadway choreographer with problems in terms of booze, coke and women. All That Jazz mixes the abrasiveness of Fosse’s Lenny Bruce biopic with ironic Broadway razzle-dazzle, and the script takes continual side-swipes at real-life theatre legends that Fosse encountered. This is cinema as autobiography, therapy and catharsis, and while the open-heart surgery and musical numbers sit awkwardly together, that’s part of the point; Gideon’s taste of external excess causes his own internal collapse, and his constant repetition of the phrase ‘it’s showtime” marks another step towards self-destruction and self-realization. A key film in understanding why the name Fosse is now a brand, All That Jazz is an intense personal reflection on love, life and death.


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