All That Jazz is a 1979 American musical drama film directed by Bob Fosse. The screenplay, by Robert Alan Aurthur and Fosse, is a semi-autobiographical fantasy based on aspects of Fosse's life and career as a dancer, choreographer and director. The film was inspired by Fosse's manic effort to edit his film Lenny while simultaneously staging the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago. It borrows its title from the Kander and Ebb tune "All That Jazz" in that production. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2001, All That Jazz was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[4]


Joe Gideon is a theater director and choreographer trying to balance staging his latest Broadway musical while editing a Hollywood film he has directed. He is a workaholic who chain-smokes cigarettes; 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 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. In his imagination, he flirts with an angel of death named Angelique.

Gideon's condition gets progressively worse. He is rushed to a hospital after experiencing chest pains during a particularly stressful table-read (with the production's penny-pinching backers in attendance) and is admitted with severe angina. Joe brushes off his symptoms, and attempts to leave to go back to rehearsal. He collapses in the doctor's office, and is ordered to stay in the hospital for several weeks to rest his heart and recover from his exhaustion. The show is postponed, but Gideon continues his antics from the hospital bed, in brazen denial of his mortality. Champagne flows, endless strings of women frolic around his hospital room, and cigarettes are constantly being smoked. As cardiogram readings show no improvement, Gideon dances with death. A negative review for his film—which has been released without him—comes in, and Gideon has a massive coronary event. He undergoes coronary artery bypass surgery.

The show's backers must decide 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 Joe's open-heart surgery. The producers realize that the best way to recoup their money and make a profit is to bet on Gideon's dying: the insurance proceeds would result in a profit of over half a million dollars. Meanwhile, elements from Gideon's past life are staged in dazzling dream sequences of musical numbers he directs from his hospital bed while on life support. Realizing death is imminent and his mortality unconquerable, Gideon has another heart attack. In the film's glittery finale, he goes through the five stages of grief—anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance—featured in the stand-up routine he had been editing. As death closes in on Gideon, his fantasy episodes become more hallucinatory and extravagant. In an epilogue set up as a monumental variety show featuring everyone from his past, Gideon takes center stage.

The final shot shows his corpse being zipped up in a body bag.


Music Edit

Soundtrack Edit

Numbers Edit


With increasing production costs and a loss of enthusiasm for the film, Columbia brought in Fox to finance completion, who acquired domestic distribution rights in return.[5]

The film's structure is often compared to Federico Fellini's , another thinly veiled autobiographical film with fantastic elements.[6][7][8]

The part of Audrey Paris—Joe's ex-wife and continuing muse, played by Leland Palmer—closely reflects that of Fosse's wife, the dancer and actress Gwen Verdon, who continued to work with him on projects including Chicago and All That Jazz itself.

Gideon's rough handling of chorus girl Victoria Porter closely resembles Bob Fosse's own treatment of Jennifer Nairn-Smith during rehearsals for Pippin.[9] Nairn-Smith herself appears in the film as Jennifer, one of the NY/LA dancers.

Ann Reinking was one of Fosse's sexual partners at the time and was more or less playing herself in the film, but nonetheless she was required to audition for the role as Gideon's girlfriend, Kate Jagger.

Cliff Gorman was cast in the titular role of The Stand-Up—the film-within-a-film version of Lenny—after having played the role of Lenny Bruce in the original theatrical production of the show (for which he won a Tony Award), but was passed over for Fosse's film version of the production in favor of Dustin Hoffman.[10]

Critical receptionEdit

Reviews were largely positive. All That Jazz scores an 86% "Fresh" (or "good") rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews.[11]

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."[12]

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]."[13]

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."[14]

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."[8]

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."[15]

Upon release in 1979, director Stanley Kubrick, who is mentioned in the movie, reportedly called it "[the] best film I think I have ever seen".Stub In 2001, All That Jazz was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was also preserved by the Academy Film Archive in the same year.[16] In 2006, the film was ranked #14 by the American Film Institute on its list of the Greatest Movie Musicals.

The film would be the last musical nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture until Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 1991, and was the last live-action musical to compete in the category until Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! was nominated over twenty years later.

Awards and honorsEdit

Cannes Film Festival

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
1980 Cannes Film Festival Palme D'Or Bob Fosse Won

Academy Awards

Year Category Recipients and nominees Result
1979 Best Picture Robert Alan Aurthur Nominated
Best Actor Roy Scheider Nominated
Best Director Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Robert Alan Aurthur and Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score Ralph Burns Won
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Philip Rosenberg and Tony Walton;

Set Decoration: Edward Stewart and Gary Brink

Best Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno Nominated
Best Costume Design Albert Wolsky Won
Best Film Editing Alan Heim Won

BAFTA Awards

Year Category Recipients and nominees Result
1980 Best Actor in a Leading Role Roy Scheider Nominated
Best Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno Won
Best Sound Maurice Schell, Christopher Newman, Dick Vorisek Nominated
Best Production Design Philip Rosenberg Nominated
Best Costume Design Albert Wolsky Nominated
Best Editing Alan Heim Won

Golden Globe Awards

Year Category Recipients and nominees Result
1980 Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Roy Scheider Nominated

Other Awards

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
1980 NYFCC Award Best Director Bob Fosse 3rd place
NSFC Award Best Actor Roy Scheider Nominated
American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards Best Edited Feature Film Alan Heim Won
Japan Academy Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Bob Fosse Nominated
Bodil Awards Best Non-European Film Bob Fosse Won

Home mediaEdit

The DVD issued in 2003 features scene-specific commentary by Roy Scheider and interviews with Scheider and Fosse. Fox released a "Special Music Edition" DVD in 2007, with an audio commentary by the film's Oscar-winning editor, Alan Heim. Blu-ray and DVD editions were released in August 2014 with all the old special features, as well as new supplements through the Criterion Collection brand.[18]


  1. ALL THAT JAZZ (X). British Board of Film Classification (1980-01-28). Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  3. All That Jazz, Box Office Information. The Numbers. Retrieved on January 28, 2012.
  4. ALL THAT JAZZ. Cannes Film Festival.
  5. Harwood, Jim. "'Kramer' Wins Five-Oscar Judgment", Daily Variety, April 15, 1980, p. 1. 
  6. [1] [dead link]
  7. DVD review in The Onion: A.V. Club Stub
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide" page 26
  9. All His Jazz: The Life & Death of Bob Fosse by Martin Gottfried, Da Capo Press, 1990
  10. Cliff Gorman, Broadway's Lenny, Is Dead at 65. Playbill, Inc. (13 September 2002). Retrieved on 19 July 2018.
  11. {{{title}}} at Rotten Tomatoes
  12. Canby, Vincent (20 December 1979). The Screen: Roy Scheider Stars in 'All That Jazz':Peter Pan Syndrome. Retrieved on 27 June 2019.
  13. Variety review. Retrieved on 27 June 2019.
  14. All That Jazz - TV Guide. Retrieved on 27 June 2019.
  15. Time Out London review Stub
  16. Preserved Projects.
  17. Citation.
  18. August Titles. Retrieved on 2014-05-15.

External linksEdit

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations from or about:

Template:Bob Fosse Template:Palme d'Or 1980-1999

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+