Review: All That Jazz 40th Anniversary15th October 2019
All That Jazz comes from director Bob Fosse, a man that isn’t talked about enough given how many considerable masterpieces he gave us. The Dustin Hoffman starring Lenny looks like a resounding triumph, so to work my way into that one it only makes sense to start with his most popular and well recognised piece, All That Jazz starring Roy Scheider of Jaws fame.
Scheider’s performance as Joe Gideon is a resounding one, definitely one of the great roles that littered his truly incredible career. A peg below his fine work in William Freidkin’s 1977 classic Sorcerer, Scheider pulls out all the stops in a brilliant role. He suits it well, managing to portray a careerist with a manic and dangerous lifestyle. Even in his earliest scenes, we can see something isn’t quite right with hit director Gideon, and under the watchful eye of Fosse, we get to dissect this in an extremely fulfilling style.
With this Academy Award nominated performance outshining the rest of an arguably talented cast, it’s no surprise that we spend nearly every scene of All That Jazz with Scheider. Jessica Lange appears alongside Scheider’s portrayal of Gideon as Angelique, with the two sharing some great scenes together that give us that ever-prominent theme of death and closure. An extravagant theme for any movie to tackle, All That Jazz manages to pull it round by being subtle and complacent in its message.
Where All That Jazz faulters then is its music. Shamefully flatlining at times, it’ll be a real treat for those that enjoy song and dance routines, but will provide little else but spectacle for those wanting a deeper story focus. Its cinematography is nice, but these stilted scenes detract from the tour de force that is Schneider, and it feels like more a slog than anything else when getting through these scenes. Given that the film spends so long on these scenes and not the dramatic tensions behind them, it’s no surprise that the film begins to slow down in these moments. Nice choreography doesn’t exactly distract from a greater story hidden away.
The beautiful direction works wonders, saving a rough-cut film from being its own worst nightmare. Schneider prevails and the scenes of choreographed dance manage to survive due to Fosse’s great direction and ability to handle the lighting and feeling of those scenes. It’d be easy to call All That Jazz a film that cuts into the idea that corporations prefer profit over the human life, but that is very much the centre focus of the movie. Fosse and Scheider work tirelessly to represent such a message, and trying to explain it simply wouldn’t do it justice.