We gave it a B
Director-choreographer Bob Fosse put a whole lot of himself into the character of Joe Gideon, the chain-smoking, bed-hopping sonofabitch genius portrayed by Roy Scheider in All That Jazz: Special Music Edition. Like Gideon, Fosse simultaneously edited a biopic of a comedian (Lenny) and choreographed a major Broadway musical (Chicago), a test of endurance that almost killed him (that’s even Fosse’s address on the bottle of Dexedrine that Gideon reaches for every morning). On a lively commentary, editor Alan Heim marvels at how ”hard on himself” Fosse was. But that self-excoriation seems less like a troubled conscience than a side effect of absolute narcissism. The tears of Gideon’s lovers — we never learn to care for them — serve mostly to demonstrate the burdens of being a womanizer, and the indulgent fantasy sequences don’t quite add up to 8 1/2 in 4/4 time. Even if the story fails to charm, Fosse’s skills as a choreographer — his inventive rhythms, his dazzling tableaux — do translate to filmmaking. The visuals, as acolytes Liza Minnelli and Kenny Ortega attest on a slight featurette, are intoxicating.