Roy Scheider makes a brave and largely successful leap out of his usual romantic lead roles to step into Gideon's dancing pumps, and supplies a plausible sketch of an extravagant, self-destructive, self-loathing creative dynamo, while Jessica Lange serves as a largely allegorical Muse, one of the various women that the philandering Gideon pursues (and usually abandons). Gideon's other romantic partners include Fosse's own protégé (and a major keeper of his choreographic style since his death), Ann Reinking, whose leggy grace is seductive both "onstage" and off.
Fosse/Gideon's collision course with mortality, as well as his priapic obsession with the opposite sex, may offer clues into the libidinal core of the choreographer's dynamic, sexualized style of dance, but musical aficionados will be forgiven for fast-forwarding to cut out the self-analysis and focus on the music, period. At its best--as in the knockout opening, scored to George Benson's strutting version of "On Broadway," which fuses music, dance, and dazzling camera work into a paean to Fosse's hoofer nation--All That Jazz offers a sequence of classic Fosse numbers, hard-edged, caustic, and joyously physical. --Sam Sutherland
Apart from being a truly sexy turn-on of a musical, it hits one out of the park as an exploration of an artist at war with himself. Somewhat indulgent, yes, but it is the brutally honest potrayal of the many imperfections (girls, gin, glitz) of a perfectionist, in all his triumphs and trials, that makes this film a very, very endearing experience.
The bleak undertones may scare the faint-hearted but for them there's all the riveting stage action. A wholesome film that belongs in your own collections, not just in your Blockbuster records.
I was impressed from the opening scene of dancers leaping across the stage to the final zipper at the end of the movie the very first time I saw this movie 20-odd years ago, and every time since.
As Joe Gideon's producer said, "every dollar is on the screen".
I had the feeling I was really watching a work of genius. Even if the movie is Bob Fosse's bloated egotistical account of his life and career (not my viewpoint), it is still amazing in its scope. To predict your own death is one thing, but to put into one of the best 20 minutes on film is quite another.
Good acting, writing, directing, cinematography - you name it, it's there.
Sparse extras on the DVD, but worth it for the movie alone.