All That Jazz (1979)

Tangentially related to my playwriting life, but certainly not to my theatre-life, or to my movie-going life, or to my life in general. Posted on my movie blog.

So few critics, so many poets

By Scott Ross

Bob Fosse’s great, outrageous semi-autobiography — an act of public navel-gazing unparalleled in American movies. It’s not exactly a flattering self-portrait. Fosse’s alter ego, Joe Gideon, is driven, occasionally cruel, self-lacerating, priapistic, and more than half in love with easeful death. (Of course, when Death looks like Jessica Lange, what heterosexual man wouldn’t flirt?)

Since Joe is portrayed by the enormously appealing Roy Scheider, the rougher edges of his character are, if not explicable, at least forgivable. And Leland Palmer, playing a lightly fictionalized Gwen Verdon, gives a smashing performance; the exhilarating sequence in which she points out Joe’s inability to maintain a semblance of fidelity, all the while performing sinewy dance exercises, is one of my very favorite moments in all of American movies.

a6ca1-allthatjazzscheiderandpalmer

The splendid supporting cast includes Anne Reinking, pretty much playing herself and showing off the most delectable pair of dancing thighs since…

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Filed under Essay, Musical Theatre

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