All That Jazz (1979)

R | 123 mins | Drama, Fantasy, Musical comedy | 1979

Director:

Bob Fosse

Cinematographer:

Giuseppe Rotunno

Editor:

Alan Heim

Production Designer:

Philip Rosenberg

Production Companies:

Twentieth Century-Fox , Columbia Pictures
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HISTORY

       A 21 Jun 1976 Box brief announced that Bob Fosse had signed a contract with Paramount Pictures Corp. to direct, as well as co-write with Robert Alan Aurthur, an original comedy and musical drama titled All That Jazz, which would represent his fourth feature as a director. Prior to this deal, Fosse and Aurthur had been working on a project for Paramount, with the title Ending. Later, in a 30 Dec 1979 NYT interview, Fosse stated that the idea for All That Jazz evolved from his interest in Ending, a novel by Hilma Wolitzer about dying and grief.
       An item in the 8 Sep 1977 DV reported that Richard Dreyfuss would star in the principal role, with pre-production rehearsals scheduled to begin 30 Jan 1978 in New York City. By this point, Columbia Pictures, Inc. had acquired the film from Paramount. Executive producer Daniel Melnick, who encouraged Columbia president David Begelman to purchase the project, recalled in a 6 Jan 1980 LAT article that the studios had misgivings about how closely the story resembled Fosse’s life, fearing that it was too “self-indugent.” Because of this criticism, Fosse was afraid of discussing the film’s autobiographical content, as he admitted in the 30 Dec 1979 NYT interview.
       Among the multiple connections between Fosse and lead character “Joe Gideon” was the primary similarity of suffering a heart attack while juggling directing duties on two major projects. Fosse was hospitalized while simultaneously preparing the Broadway musical Chicago (New York, 3 Jun 1975) and completing ... More Less

       A 21 Jun 1976 Box brief announced that Bob Fosse had signed a contract with Paramount Pictures Corp. to direct, as well as co-write with Robert Alan Aurthur, an original comedy and musical drama titled All That Jazz, which would represent his fourth feature as a director. Prior to this deal, Fosse and Aurthur had been working on a project for Paramount, with the title Ending. Later, in a 30 Dec 1979 NYT interview, Fosse stated that the idea for All That Jazz evolved from his interest in Ending, a novel by Hilma Wolitzer about dying and grief.
       An item in the 8 Sep 1977 DV reported that Richard Dreyfuss would star in the principal role, with pre-production rehearsals scheduled to begin 30 Jan 1978 in New York City. By this point, Columbia Pictures, Inc. had acquired the film from Paramount. Executive producer Daniel Melnick, who encouraged Columbia president David Begelman to purchase the project, recalled in a 6 Jan 1980 LAT article that the studios had misgivings about how closely the story resembled Fosse’s life, fearing that it was too “self-indugent.” Because of this criticism, Fosse was afraid of discussing the film’s autobiographical content, as he admitted in the 30 Dec 1979 NYT interview.
       Among the multiple connections between Fosse and lead character “Joe Gideon” was the primary similarity of suffering a heart attack while juggling directing duties on two major projects. Fosse was hospitalized while simultaneously preparing the Broadway musical Chicago (New York, 3 Jun 1975) and completing the feature film Lenny (1974, see entry) about comedian Lenny Bruce. Casting actor Cliff Gorman to play stand up “Davis Newman” reinforced the reference to Bruce, since Gorman played the real-life comic on Broadway in Lenny (New York, 26 May 1971).
       As pointed out by reviewers, the character “Audrey Paris” evoked Fosse’s ex-wife Gwen Verdon. Dancer and actress Ann Reinking, who had been involved in a romantic relationship with Fosse for five years, but had separated by the time production began, played a version of herself in the role of girlfriend “Kate Jagger,” as she explained in a 4 Jan 1980 NYT article. When Fosse experienced a more serious heart attack in the hospital, she was present and felt that the corresponding scene in the film was an accurate depiction of Fosse’s real agony and the nurse’s disbelief. However, in contrast to the self-destructive Gideon, Reinking said that Fosse was a “‘model patient’” and unlike her character in the film, she never dated other men while he was hospitalized. She also commented that, regardless of her former romance with Fosse and their earlier collaborations on Broadway, she had to earn the role of Kate in auditions. An item in the 20 Sep 1978 DV reported that Reinking took a leave of absence from the Broadway musical Dancin’ (New York, 27 Mar 1978) to begin rehearsing for the production. An undated HR brief mentioned that Shirley MacLaine, who had starred in Fosse’s film Sweet Charity (1969, see entry), was considered for a part, but no further information was available in the AMPAS library file.
       During the rehearsal period, Dreyfuss withdrew from the production citing “exhaustion,” and the Jul 1978 start date was postponed, according to a 7 Jun 1978 LAT article. A source in the article claimed that the actor had maintained a relentless schedule since working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, see entry). In his 22 Aug 1978 DV column, Army Archerd reported that Roy Scheider was cast as Dreyfuss’ replacement within a few days and mentioned that the same agent represented both actors. Later, in an 11 Sep 1978 DV item, Dreyfuss stated that he actually left the production because of “‘differences with Fosse’” and considered Scheider better suited for the role.
       According to a 1978 HR article, filming was rescheduled for fall 1978. As outlined in production notes at AMPAS library, all location scenes took place in or near New York City, with additional filming at the sound stages of Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. Except for an exterior and a few simple interior shots, Fosse’s favorite rehearsal studio, Broadway Arts, was not used as a practical shooting location, and the space was recreated at Astoria using design techniques to “heighten” the worn appearance of the original. The fantasy sequences designed by Tony Walton were also filmed on Astoria’s soundstages. An apartment in the Central Park West neighborhood was used for Gideon’s home. The hospital scenes were filmed on location at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, and on soundstages at New York City’s Pathe Studios. The finale sequence was shot at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Purchase College, part of the State University of New York, utilizing the Center’s flexible, black box amphitheater. Other New York City locations included The Village Gate in Greenwich Village, where the young Joe Gideon performs, and the Texas Lone Star Café at the corner of Thirteenth Street and Fifth Avenue, the setting for The Stand Up. To stage the cattle call auditions for NY/LA, the production shot at The Palace in Times Square, the same theatre where Fosse’s Broadway musical Sweet Charity opened on 29 Jan 1966. Additional locations within the city were “Pace College, John Jay College, Fiorell’s Restaurant, and the Preview Theatre at 1600 Broadway.” Throughout these various sets and locations, production designer Philip Rosenberg aimed for an overall “spartan” appearance to reflect Gideon’s own understated expression of wealth and status and compared the minimalist design to making a black and white film.
       During production, producer and co-writer Robert Alan Aurther passed away from lung cancer, as reported by a 22 Nov 1978 DV obituary.
       In another major setback, the film was a week away from finishing production when Columbia decided against financing the musical finale, which was estimated to cost $500,000, as well as other scenes, according to the 6 Jan 1980 LAT article. By then, the production budget had escalated from $6 million to $9.5 million. Executive producer Melnick arranged a last minute deal with Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. to guarantee completion. After viewing eighty minutes of footage, Twentieth Century-Fox President Alan Ladd, Jr. agreed to invest $5 million and to acquire distribution rights, while sharing in the profits as an equal partner with Columbia.
       The film earned mostly positive reviews. The 16 Dec 1979 LAT represented one of the more enthusiastic opinions in stating that the “spirited autobiography” was a “celebration of the possibilities of film.” The 12 Dec 1979 Var critic praised the energetic choreography and performances, but faulted the story for not fully exploring the motivations for Gideon’s obsessive behavior. In his 20 Dec 1979 NYT review, Vincent Canby wrote that even though the film shared a similar style and autobiographical theme with Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, it was more analogous to “Peter Pan and all other middle-aged boys who have refused to grow up” for its “uproarious display of brilliance, nerve, dance, maudlin confessions, inside jokes and, especially, ego” that he concluded was “great fun.”
       The film received four Academy Awards: Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing and Music (Original Song Score and its Adaptation or Adaptation Score) and was nominated in five additional categories: Actor in a Leading Role for Roy Scheider, Cinematography, Directing, Best Picture and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). At the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, the film shared the top prize, the Palme D’Or, with Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha.
       All That Jazz was ranked 14th on AFI's list of the 25 Greatest Movie Musicals.
      The following acknowledgement appears in the end credits: “Special Thanks to Serge Diakonoff--Face Masks derived from Serge Diakonoff--Miralda Ou Peintures Sur Un Visage, edited by Bernard Letu.” The second mention of Diakonoff is misspelled in the onscreen credits. End credits also contain the written statement, “The Producers wish to thank the Governor of the State of New York and his staff, and the New York City Mayor’s Office for Motion Picture Production.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Jun 1976.
---
Box Office
28 Jun 1976.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1976.
---
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1977.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1979
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 1975
Section Q, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1978
Section IV, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1979
Section E, p. 6, 8.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1979
Calendar, p. 1, 53.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jan 1980
pp. 30-36.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Dec 1979
p. 58.
New York Times
20 Dec 1979
Section III, p. 13.
New York Times
30 Dec 1979
Section D, p. 15, 18.
New York Times
4 Jan 1980.
---
Newsweek
24 Dec 1979
pp. 78-79.
Saturday Review
2 Feb 1980
p. 28.
The New Republic
26 Jan 1980
pp. 24-25.
Variety
12 Dec 1979
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Also Starring
as
Also Starring
as
Also Starring
as
Special Guest Appearances by
as
Special Guest Appearances by
as
And Introducing
as
+

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Also Starring
as
Also Starring
as
Also Starring
as
Special Guest Appearances by
as
Special Guest Appearances by
as
And Introducing
as
Chris Chase
Principal dancers:
[and]
Fan dancers:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Assoc dir of photog
Key grip
Still photog
Photog arr by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Fantasy des
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Scenic artist
Carpenter
Const grips
Const grip
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus arr and cond by
Mus coord
Dance mus arr by
Mus rec & mixing
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer, Trans Audio, Inc.
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end titles des by
Steve Frankfurt Communications, Main and end title
Main and end titles des by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Extra casting
Asst to Mr. Fosse
Prod office coord
Asst to prod
Auditor
Transportation
Highwire rig by
Guitars by
DGA trainee
Loc coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Tech adv
Open heart surgery by, St. Luke's Hospital Center,
Senior surgeon
SOURCES
SONGS
"On Broadway," by Jerry Leiber, Barry Mann, Mike Stolle and Cynthia Weil, performed by George Benson, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"A Perfect Day," by Harry Nilsson, performed by Harry Nilsson, courtesy of RCA Records
"Take Off with Us," music and lyrics by Fred Tobias and Stanley Lebowsky
+
SONGS
"On Broadway," by Jerry Leiber, Barry Mann, Mike Stolle and Cynthia Weil, performed by George Benson, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"A Perfect Day," by Harry Nilsson, performed by Harry Nilsson, courtesy of RCA Records
"Take Off with Us," music and lyrics by Fred Tobias and Stanley Lebowsky
"Everything Old Is New Again," by Peter W. Allen and Carole Sager, performed by Peter Allen, courtesy of A&M Records
"There's No Business Like Show Business," by Irving Berlin, performed by Ethel Merman, courtesy of London Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 December 1979
New York opening: 20 December 1979
Production Date:
began fall 1978 in New York City
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA58408
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®; Prints by De Luxe®
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25725
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Relying on a routine of eye drops, Dexedrine pills, cigarettes and alcohol, Joe Gideon, a successful, workaholic director-choreographer, divides his time between two productions in New York City. After auditioning dancers for an upcoming Broadway musical titled, NY/LA, he rushes to supervise the editing of Stand Up, his feature film about a comic played by the actor Davis Newman. Because of the hectic schedule, he apologizes to his daughter Michelle for missing their weekend together, and pauses only for the pains in his chest that trigger imaginary conversations with Angelique, an angel of death. In reality, he is unable to control his attraction to women and invites Victoria, a new dancer in the show, to his apartment while forgetting that his girlfriend Kate Jagger, also a dancer, plans to come over that same evening. After discovering Joe in bed with Victoria, Kate tries to make him jealous, but finally admits that she wants to be with him exclusively. Joe is able to ease Kate’s insecurity about their relationship by asking her not to go on a six-month tour, to which she gladly agrees. As preparations for the musical continue, composer Paul Dann presents a new song, “Take Off With Us,” which does not excite Joe, but he proceeds to work through adapting it onstage. Back in the editing room, ... +


Relying on a routine of eye drops, Dexedrine pills, cigarettes and alcohol, Joe Gideon, a successful, workaholic director-choreographer, divides his time between two productions in New York City. After auditioning dancers for an upcoming Broadway musical titled, NY/LA, he rushes to supervise the editing of Stand Up, his feature film about a comic played by the actor Davis Newman. Because of the hectic schedule, he apologizes to his daughter Michelle for missing their weekend together, and pauses only for the pains in his chest that trigger imaginary conversations with Angelique, an angel of death. In reality, he is unable to control his attraction to women and invites Victoria, a new dancer in the show, to his apartment while forgetting that his girlfriend Kate Jagger, also a dancer, plans to come over that same evening. After discovering Joe in bed with Victoria, Kate tries to make him jealous, but finally admits that she wants to be with him exclusively. Joe is able to ease Kate’s insecurity about their relationship by asking her not to go on a six-month tour, to which she gladly agrees. As preparations for the musical continue, composer Paul Dann presents a new song, “Take Off With Us,” which does not excite Joe, but he proceeds to work through adapting it onstage. Back in the editing room, film producer Joshua Penn panics that The Stand Up is over budget by $2.2 million, but Joe pacifies Josh by showing him how much the opening monologue has improved. One evening at the rehearsal studio, Joe works through dance steps with his daughter while she encourages him to remarry so he will stop sleeping around with women. During rehearsals with the dancers, Joe is having trouble staging “Take Off With Us” and escapes to another room where his ex-wife Audrey Paris is practicing a routine for her starring role in the show. As they are having a playful argument about the virtue of faithfulness and Joe’s past affairs, he suddenly has a moment of inspiration and leaves. Later, Joe shows Paul and the producers how the choreography for “Take Off With Us” has developed in a new direction. Toward the end of the number, the dancers strip to their underwear and the movements become overtly sexual. Unable to be completely honest that the staging is too risqué, the producers simply tell Joe that they think the dance is “interesting,” while on the sidelines, Audrey insists that it is the best work he has ever done. Prior to a public screening of The Stand Up, Joe is reviewing footage and declares to Josh that the movie is terrible. Refusing to attend the screening, he instructs Josh to explain to the audience that this is a rough cut. That evening at home, Kate and Michelle are making dinner for Joe and try to reassure him about the film. In honor of the screening, they perform a dance routine that they have choreographed to the song, “Everything Old is New Again.” Sometime later at the rehearsal studio, the cast and producers assemble for a read-through of the NY/LA script, but during the session, Joe becomes increasingly tense. When he closes his eyes, he sees Angelique. Soon, the producers, Audrey and Kate are brought together at the hospital as Dr. Ballinger, a cardiologist, reports that Joe is suffering from angina, which could lead to a massive coronary. While Joe protests the idea of being in the hospital for weeks, his chest pains get worse. Later at the rehearsal studio, the lead producer Jonesy Hecht tells the cast that NY/LA is being postponed for four months while Joe recovers from exhaustion and that they want to keep everyone committed to the show in the meantime. During the meeting, Audrey and Paul attempt to lighten the mood with a spontaneous song, “Hospital Hop.” Unsure about Joe’s prospects for recovery, Jonesy schmoozes with a possible replacement, theatre director Lucas Sergeant, and gives him the script to read. Meanwhile at the hospital, Joe is moved from intensive care to a private room with strict orders to rest; instead, he enjoys revelry with visitors as well as the occasional cigarette and flirtation with women. When his vitals do not improve, Ballinger warns him that he is risking serious consequences. During a meeting with colleagues, the cardiologist believes that Joe is in denial about his condition and decides to limit his visitation. After the New York premiere of The Stand Up, Josh arrives at the hospital exuberant about the response, predicting a box-office blockbuster; however in her television review, critic Leslie Perry says the movie gave her a headache and scores it “half a balloon” on her rating scale. Watching the broadcast, Joe lies back in the bed sweating and suffers a heart attack. Following a procedure, he learns that he has total blockage in two arteries. Sitting beside Angelique, he fantasizes hearing the news as a theatrical performance hosted by Audrey and starring his cardiologist, internist and heart surgeon. The day before his heart surgery, he asks Kate why she did not answer her phone last Tuesday night, and she admits to sleeping with someone else. Although he is furious with her, he wants to be nice in case he dies tomorrow, so he assures Kate that their relationship is not over. As Joe undergoes open-heart surgery, the insurance company informs the show producers that they will earn a profit of more than half a million dollars if Joe dies before 1 Feb and the production is abandoned. During the post-operative recovery, Joe hallucinates about directing three dance numbers featuring Michelle, Kate and Audrey who sing about his death and how much he will miss life. He begs Angelique that he is not ready to die yet. Meanwhile, the producers have lunch with Sergeant and tell him that they are relieved that Joe is recovering from the surgery and appears ready to resume work, as soon as he leaves the hospital. Handing over script notes about the musical, Sergeant pretends to be pleased for them. Back in the hospital room, Joe complains that he is having a heart attack, but Nurse Blake says it is impossible since she gave him medication twenty minutes ago. After Audrey screams at Blake to call the doctor, Joe is wheeled back to intensive care and injected with morphine. Unnoticed by the busy staff, Joe unhooks his tubes and wanders through the hospital in delirium. In the cafeteria, two attendants finally retrieve him as he is enjoying a cigarette and singing with a janitor. After being secured to the hospital bed and injected with more morphine, Joe imagines the television entertainer O’Connor Flood introducing him on stage. Together, Joe and O’Connor sing and dance about his upcoming death to the music of “Bye, Bye Love.” During the performance, Joe walks through an audience of people he has known throughout his life and says goodbye. When the dance number ends, he glides toward Angelique. Meanwhile, his body is sealed in a bag at the hospital. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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