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'All That Jazz': Great To Be Nominated

All That Jazz by Bob FosseBob Fosse's 1979 Best Picture nominee All That Jazz will be the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' next film in the “Great To Be Nominated" series on Monday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Several members of the cast and crew, including actors Deborah Geffner, John Lithgow and Kathryn Doby; film editor Alan Heim; associate producer and assistant director Wolfgang Glattes; executive producer Daniel Melnick; production sound mixer Chris Newman; production designer Philip Rosenberg; cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno; and music editor Michael Tronick will participate in a post-screening discussion.

In terms of content, All That Jazz was inspired by Bob Fosse's own dancing, womanizing, and pill popping. In terms of style, it was a rip-off of (or “homage” to) Federico Fellini's equally autobiographical – but infinitely superior – 8 1/2, quite possibly the Italian director's most exuberant and most touching film.

Apart from an early dance number and brief sequences here and there, All That Jazz feels like one of those musicals in dire need of amphetamines – whether in liquid or pill form. Worse yet, there is a black hole where the film's heart should have been. All in all, All That Jazz is a major letdown, especially considering that Fosse is responsible for one of the best film musicals ever made, Cabaret.

Admittedly, All That Jazz, even if somewhat over-produced, does look good – courtesy of frequent Fellini collaborator Giuseppe Rotunno (Satyricon, Roma, Amarcord).

Roy Scheider (who tries really hard to bring some zest to the proceedings) stars as Joe Gideon, a workaholic, drug-addicted Broadway choreographer and director who must eventually face the fact that he won't be around for very much longer. Jessica Lange (who was having an affair with Fosse around that time), Ann Reinking (who, two decades later, would co-direct the Broadway musical Fosse), and Leland Palmer (who had worked with Fosse in Pippin and whose character is reportedly based on Fosse's ex-wife Gwen Verdon) are three of the women in Gideon's life and death.

It should be noted that Bob Fosse made only one more film after All That Jazz, the disappointing Star 80, released in 1983. Four years later, Fosse died of a heart attack at age 60.

The film took home Oscars for Art Direction (Philip Rosenberg, Tony Walton; Set Decoration: Edward Stewart, Gary Brink); Costume Design (Albert Wolsky); Film Editing (Alan Heim); and Music – Adaptation Score (Ralph Burns). It also received nominations for Best Picture (Robert Alan Arthur, producer); Actor in a Leading Role (Roy Scheider); Cinematography (Giuseppe Rotunno); Directing (Bob Fosse); and Writing – Screenplay written directly for the screen (Arthur, Fosse).

Bob Godfrey and Zlatko Grgic's Oscar-nominated animated short Dream Doll, about a guy and his gal – who happens to be an inflatable doll – and Elaine Bass, Saul Bass (he of the funky film credits), and Laurence Starkman's Oscar-nominated live action short The Solar Film will be screened prior to the feature.

Passes for the remaining screenings in part four of “Great To Be Nominated” are $30 for the general public and $25 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. A $5 discount is available for those who wish to renew their passes from parts one, two or three of the series. Individual tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Passes and tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for all features is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

HEAVEN CAN WAIT: Great To Be Nominated

Best Films - 1972


         
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