AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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All That Jazz
Director: Bob Fosse (Dir)
Release Date:   1979
Duration (in mins):  123
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Cast: Roy Scheider  (Joe Gideon)
  Jessica Lange  (Angelique)
  Ann Reinking  (Kate Jagger)

Summary: Relying on a routine of eye drops, Dexedrine pills, cigarettes and alcohol, Joe Gideon, a successful, workaholic director-choreographer, divides his time between two productions in New York City. After auditioning dancers for an upcoming Broadway musical titled, NY/LA, he rushes to supervise the editing of Stand Up, his feature film about a comic played by the actor Davis Newman. Because of the hectic schedule, he apologizes to his daughter Michelle for missing their weekend together, and pauses only for the pains in his chest that trigger imaginary conversations with Angelique, an angel of death. In reality, he is unable to control his attraction to women and invites Victoria, a new dancer in the show, to his apartment while forgetting that his girlfriend Kate Jagger, also a dancer, plans to come over that same evening. After discovering Joe in bed with Victoria, Kate tries to make him jealous, but finally admits that she wants to be with him exclusively. Joe is able to ease Kate’s insecurity about their relationship by asking her not to go on a six-month tour, to which she gladly agrees. As preparations for the musical continue, composer Paul Dann presents a new song, “Take Off With Us,” which does not excite Joe, but he proceeds to work through adapting it onstage. Back in the editing room, film producer Joshua Penn panics that The Stand Up is over budget by $2.2 million, but Joe pacifies Josh by showing him how much the opening monologue has improved. One evening at the rehearsal studio, Joe works through dance steps with his daughter while she encourages him to remarry so he will stop sleeping around with women. During rehearsals with the dancers, Joe is having trouble staging “Take Off With Us” and escapes to another room where his ex-wife Audrey Paris is practicing a routine for her starring role in the show. As they are having a playful argument about the virtue of faithfulness and Joe’s past affairs, he suddenly has a moment of inspiration and leaves. Later, Joe shows Paul and the producers how the choreography for “Take Off With Us” has developed in a new direction. Toward the end of the number, the dancers strip to their underwear and the movements become overtly sexual. Unable to be completely honest that the staging is too risqué, the producers simply tell Joe that they think the dance is “interesting,” while on the sidelines, Audrey insists that it is the best work he has ever done. Prior to a public screening of The Stand Up, Joe is reviewing footage and declares to Josh that the movie is terrible. Refusing to attend the screening, he instructs Josh to explain to the audience that this is a rough cut. That evening at home, Kate and Michelle are making dinner for Joe and try to reassure him about the film. In honor of the screening, they perform a dance routine that they have choreographed to the song, “Everything Old is New Again.” Sometime later at the rehearsal studio, the cast and producers assemble for a read-through of the NY/LA script, but during the session, Joe becomes increasingly tense. When he closes his eyes, he sees Angelique. Soon, the producers, Audrey and Kate are brought together at the hospital as Dr. Ballinger, a cardiologist, reports that Joe is suffering from angina, which could lead to a massive coronary. While Joe protests the idea of being in the hospital for weeks, his chest pains get worse. Later at the rehearsal studio, the lead producer Jonesy Hecht tells the cast that NY/LA is being postponed for four months while Joe recovers from exhaustion and that they want to keep everyone committed to the show in the meantime. During the meeting, Audrey and Paul attempt to lighten the mood with a spontaneous song, “Hospital Hop.” Unsure about Joe’s prospects for recovery, Jonesy schmoozes with a possible replacement, theatre director Lucas Sergeant, and gives him the script to read. Meanwhile at the hospital, Joe is moved from intensive care to a private room with strict orders to rest; instead, he enjoys revelry with visitors as well as the occasional cigarette and flirtation with women. When his vitals do not improve, Ballinger warns him that he is risking serious consequences. During a meeting with colleagues, the cardiologist believes that Joe is in denial about his condition and decides to limit his visitation. After the New York premiere of The Stand Up, Josh arrives at the hospital exuberant about the response, predicting a box-office blockbuster; however in her television review, critic Leslie Perry says the movie gave her a headache and scores it “half a balloon” on her rating scale. Watching the broadcast, Joe lies back in the bed sweating and suffers a heart attack. Following a procedure, he learns that he has total blockage in two arteries. Sitting beside Angelique, he fantasizes hearing the news as a theatrical performance hosted by Audrey and starring his cardiologist, internist and heart surgeon. The day before his heart surgery, he asks Kate why she did not answer her phone last Tuesday night, and she admits to sleeping with someone else. Although he is furious with her, he wants to be nice in case he dies tomorrow, so he assures Kate that their relationship is not over. As Joe undergoes open-heart surgery, the insurance company informs the show producers that they will earn a profit of more than half a million dollars if Joe dies before 1 Feb and the production is abandoned. During the post-operative recovery, Joe hallucinates about directing three dance numbers featuring Michelle, Kate and Audrey who sing about his death and how much he will miss life. He begs Angelique that he is not ready to die yet. Meanwhile, the producers have lunch with Sergeant and tell him that they are relieved that Joe is recovering from the surgery and appears ready to resume work, as soon as he leaves the hospital. Handing over script notes about the musical, Sergeant pretends to be pleased for them. Back in the hospital room, Joe complains that he is having a heart attack, but Nurse Blake says it is impossible since she gave him medication twenty minutes ago. After Audrey screams at Blake to call the doctor, Joe is wheeled back to intensive care and injected with morphine. Unnoticed by the busy staff, Joe unhooks his tubes and wanders through the hospital in delirium. In the cafeteria, two attendants finally retrieve him as he is enjoying a cigarette and singing with a janitor. After being secured to the hospital bed and injected with more morphine, Joe imagines the television entertainer O’Connor Flood introducing him on stage. Together, Joe and O’Connor sing and dance about his upcoming death to the music of “Bye, Bye Love.” During the performance, Joe walks through an audience of people he has known throughout his life and says goodbye. When the dance number ends, he glides toward Angelique. Meanwhile, his body is sealed in a bag at the hospital. 

Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox
Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox
Columbia Pictures
Director: Bob Fosse (Dir)
  Kenneth Utt (Prod mgr)
  Wolfgang Glattes (1st asst dir)
  Joseph Ray (2d asst dir)
Producer: Robert Alan Aurthur (Prod)
  Daniel Melnick (Exec prod)
  Kenneth Utt (Assoc prod)
  Wolfgang Glattes (Assoc prod)
Writer: Robert Alan Aurthur (Wrt)
  Bob Fosse (Wrt)

Subject Major: Choreographers
  Death and dying
  New York City--Broadway
Subject Minor: Auditions
  Dance of death
  Fathers and daughters
  Heart disease
  Motion picture directors
  Motion picture producers
  Operations, Surgical
  Show girls
  Striptease dancers and dancing
  Theatrical directors
  Theatrical producers
  Vocational obsession

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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