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ALL THAT JAZZ ($15) is director/choreographer Bob Fosse’s semi autobiographical musical/fantasy/drama extravaganza (quite a mouthful, eh?)- and pretty much the crowning achievement of his career in the cinema. Filled with visual bravado, ALL THAT JAZZ tells the story of director/choreographer Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), who is a brilliant and totally driven artist, but a lousy human being. Joe has managed to screw up every relationship in his life, due to the fact that he is addicted to work, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and women- although, not necessarily in that order. Despite everything he has done wrong, there are four women in Joe’s life, his ex-wife Audrey (Leland Palmer), his girlfriend Kate (Ann Reinking), his daughter Michelle (Erzsebet Foldi) and the seductively beautiful Angelique (Jessica Lange), who is trying to take Joe away from the other three.

When we first encounter Joe, we discover that he is a man who is not only burning the candle at both ends, but in the middle as well. Not only is he directing a new musical starring his ex-wife, he is also in the midst of editing and reediting a movie that is overdue and over budget, plus managing to squeeze in some "private auditions" for dancers in his upcoming show. Eventually, the strain of overwork and the years of physical abuse to his body catch up with Joe, which actually leads to the film into a brilliant and totally unforgettable musical/fantasy climax. The cast of ALL THAT JAZZ also features Cliff Gorman, Ben Vereen, Michael Tolan, Max Wright, William LeMassena, Deborah Geffner, Keith Gordon John Lithgow and Sandahl Bergman.

20th Century Home Entertainment has made ALL THAT JAZZ available on DVD in truly fine looking 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Prior to this release, ALL THAT JAZZ underwent a restoration to bring the film elements back from the brink of oblivion. The results are quite good, with ALL THAT JAZZ looking far better than it has in any home video or broadcast version. Of course, the film still has the less than stunning quality, best associated with motion pictures shot on seventies era film stocks. The image is pretty sharp and nicely detailed, although sequences that have filtered and fogged photography do appear a bit softer. Colors are a bit variable, as those sequences shot under practical lighting seem to favor earthen tones, while those shot under more controlled studio lighting appear movie vibrant and demonstrate strong primary colors. Blacks appear pretty accurate and the whites are stable. While the contrast is good, it varies a bit, depending upon an individual sequence’s lighting. The film element used for the transfer is free from serious damage or blemishes. Digital compression artifacts remain in check throughout.

ALL THAT JAZZ comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that decodes to standard Dolby Surround. The sound design is interesting and effective in that the movie sounds like a flat monaural mix for much of the film, only to spring to exuberant life towards the end of the feature, with the outlying channels seeing some action. The musical numbers are made to stand out from the "reality-based" sequences, which sound a bit mundane by comparison. Fidelity is good, but there are some limitations to these late seventies recordings. Dialogue is sharp and always fully understandable. A French monaural track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplemental materials. Leading man Roy Scheider is on hand to provide scene specific audio commentaries for twenty-three individual sequences. Scheider provides some interesting details about the production and it is nice to be able access his comments individually. Vintage interviews with Scheider from the time of the film’s production have also been included on the DVD, as have snippets of Bob Fosse from the set. A theatrical trailer and bonus trailers close out the supplements.

ALL THAT JAZZ is a terrific movie that has been given a really fine looking presentation on DVD by the folks at Fox. If you are a Bob Fosse or Roy Scheider fan, this DVD is a must have. If you have never seen ALL THAT JAZZ, it is definitely worth acquiring, plus the DVD’s bargain price makes it really easy to own. Recommended.



All That Jazz (1979)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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