All That Jazz is one of the greatest motion pictures ever made - possibly Personal Top 10 for this particular writer. I wrote about the classic a few years back here at BMD, marveling over choreographer-turned-director Bob Fosse's masterpiece:
"All That Jazz is a sausage factory film, directed by one the packing plant’s premiere employees. It’s no mystery that co-writer/director Fosse (Cabaret) crafted an autobiography about his own struggles with being. But then again, Fosse was always committed to making “Bob Fosse movies”; this one just happens to place his alter ego Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) smack dab in the center. Though he only completed five features, they combine to form a body of work representative of a somewhat unexplainable genius.
Starting with Sweet Charity (the 1969 big screen adaptation of his breakout musical) and ending with Star 80 (a seedy, exploitive portrait of doomed Playboy Bunny, Dorothy Stratten), Fosse’s output as a filmmaker contains a unifying essence: we’re being led backstage by a man who knew his way around the sets, the clubs and other performers’ bodies. Though there is some self-aggrandizing, Fosse is far from afraid to turn the microscope on himself, analyzing the soul of an imperfect man molded by show business."
One of the greatest elements of All That Jazz is Scheider's Academy Award nominated turn as Fosse stand-in Joe Gideon: a sinewy, haggard, workaholic, pill-popping madman who's heralded as an ingenious artist by everyone he encounters. He's also a notorious womanizer, all-around awful father, and headed straight for the grave thanks to his hard-living ways. When I say it's one of the most essential performances the screen has ever seen, I'm not kidding. Even thinking about Scheider's delicately human turn is bringing a tear to my eye as I type these words; the legendary character actor's "warts and all" approach to representing his director's struggles with existence becoming simply breathtaking by the climactic number.
However, if there's one teeny-weeny flaw to this otherwise superlative transformation, it's the fact that Scheider couldn't dance. He gives it his all, and the choreographed scenes work (mostly due to Alan Heim's groundbreaking editing), but they mostly cut around Chief Brody whenever they can. Now, an actor who's both great with characters and can dance is going to be slipping on Fosse's black attire for the new Limited FX Series, Fosse/Verdon. Sam Rockwell has signed on to play the titular stage and cinema auteur, while Michelle Williams will portray arguably the finest swinger in the history of Broadway, Gwen Verdon. Anybody who knows anything about Fosse and Verdon recognizes that their near three decade marriage (1960 - 1987) produced some of the most spectacular song and dance routines the stage has ever been graced with, while behind the scenes they dealt with cheating, drug abuse, and the duo's driven nature to produce stellar art at all costs (including their own bodies).
Fosse/Verdon will be produced by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) will serve as showrunner. Levenson also penned the pilot episode (which will be directed by Hamilton's Thomas Kail), using the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson as a primary source. No word on when FX is targeting to release Fosse/Verdon in 2019, but we will keep you informed as it develops, as this just became one of next year's absolute must see events.