Friday, November 2, 2007

No. 19 - All That Jazz

What could be more 70's than Bob Fosse's flamboyant semi-autobiographical All That Jazz? Only in the 70's could a musical feature a graphic open heart surgery sequence. Dig that Kiss makeup for the backing band that plays "Bye Bye Love" during the climactic dance number. The sequined costumes, the George Benson and Peter Allen songs, the Brooke Shields-clone daughter, the stylistic nicks from Fellini. Soundtrack on Casablanca Records (the folks who brought you Thank God It's Friday).

Like many 70's films, All That Jazz is a mid-life crisis movie. A middle-aged man takes stock of his life, has flings with much younger women and tries to come to terms with impending mortality (see 10 and Middle-Age Crazy for other examples). In Joe Gideon's case, death is welcomed, and choreographer/director Gideon envisions his own demise as an elaborate (and very 70's) musical finale.

As it turned out, All That Jazz represented the end of an era (and appropriately, was released in December of 1979, at the tail end of the 70's). 1980 gave us Can't Stop the Music and Xanadu, and the movie musical was dead, until Chicago (staged on Broadway by Fosse in 1975) hit the big screen.

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