A singing, dancing musical fantasy taking place in the mind of a lead character confined to a hospital bed, who doubles the filmmaker’s own hospital illness/fantasies. But enough about The Singing Detective…
Bob Fosse ended up in hospital trying to obsessively re-edit his film Lenny while launching his musical Chicago, and Fosse’s stand-in Roy Scheider (the guy in Jaws whom I disliked less than Richard Dreyfuss) is in a similar fix, plus he’s juggling too many drugs and women, including ex-wife Leland Palmer (that’s the actress’s real name, also of Ken Russell’s Valentino) and dream-girl Jessica Lange. Inspired by 8 1/2, Scheider always surrounded by women in his profession and home life.
Lost the big oscars to Kramer vs. Kramer and Apocalypse Now, but still won a bunch, including editing, which it deserved. Most impressive part of the movie is the dance scenes, which include the camera and editing as part of the dance.
Joeâ€™s great curse is that he knows everything can be improved with more time and effort â€” himself included. More than once in the movie, he shows his work to someone whoâ€™s exasperated with him for all the time heâ€™s taking and all the money heâ€™s spending, and in each case, they shake their heads, annoyed to have to admit that all his fussing has made the finished product more brilliant. A skeptic might say this is Fosse congratulating himself, but itâ€™s really more of an explanation. Itâ€™s impossible to create something as lasting as All That Jazz without doing a lot of personal and collateral damage.