All That Jazz

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



Choreographing and casting for dancers for his next Broadway show, while editing his severely over-budgeted and over-scheduled Hollywood production about a stand-up comic, is getting to Joe Gideon. He is a workaholic, choreographer, and theater director who chain-smokes and chain-sleeps with all of his dancers. 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 them 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. Decades of overworking and constant tremendous stress have gotten to Gideon. In his imagination, he already flirts with an angel of death named Angelique.

Gideon's condition gets worse, as after a particularly stressful script rehearsal with the penny-pinching backers, he is taken to a hospital with chest pains and admitted with severe attacks of angina. Joe tries to take it in stride and walk straight back to the rehearsal, but is ordered to stay for three to four weeks to rest his heart and recover from his exhaustion. The show is postponed, but Gideon continues his antics from the hospital bed. Champagne flows, endless strings of women frolic around and the cigarettes are always lit. Cardiogram readings don't show any improvement - Gideon is playing with death. As the paltry reviews for his feature film (which has been released without him) come in, Gideon has a massive coronary and is taken straight to coronary artery bypass surgery.

The backers for the Broadway show must decide now 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 open heart surgery. They realize the best way to recoup their money, even make a profit, is to bet on Gideon dying — which would bring in a profit of over USD$500,000 — not bad in the crazy unpredictable world of showbiz. Meanwhile, elements from Gideon's past life are staged into a dazzling sequence of set-ups — himself directing from the hospital bed, while on life support. Realizing his death is imminent, his mortality unconquerable, Gideon has another heart attack. In glittery musical numbers, he goes through the five phases of grief — anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance - featured in the stand-up routine he has been editing. As death closes in on Gideon, the fantasy episodes become more hallucinatory and extravagant and in a final epilogue that is set up as a truly monumental live variety show featuring everyone from his past, Gideon himself takes center stage.

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