Every Bob Fosse Movie Ranked Worst To Best

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Every Bob Fosse Movie Ranked Worst To Best

There’s one thing equally inspiring and infuriating about nice artists who discover success throughout a number of mediums. We’ve seen this in 2021 with actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed directorial debut “tick, tick… Boom!,” and we noticed it many years earlier with the movies of Bob Fosse. Known primarily as a choreographer with a provocative and particular model of dance, Fosse went on to have a profession as a movie director characterised by just a few misses and a few actually stellar hits. Fosse is a lot greater than snazzy hats and jazz arms. In truth, not all of his movies are even musicals. 

Let’s undergo all of them, lets? Not simply the 5 characteristic movies that Fosse directed, but in addition these to which he contributed choreography. Fosse signed a contract with MGM in 1953, which kickstarted his Hollywood profession, however his affect goes past the films: If you need to know much more about Fosse as an artist, I like to recommend his Emmy-winning TV special “Liza with a Z ” and the skilled recording of his musical “Pippin.” But to get a good suggestion of who Fosse was as a filmmaker and visible storyteller, the characteristic movies he labored on are a fantastic place to begin. Here’s how they rank.

10. Kiss Me Kate

To put together for this record, I watched a lot of ’50s musicals I had by no means seen that had been choreographed by Fosse. I used to be struck by how, in his earlier work, his choreography was fairly typical, and similar to that of different musicals of the time, like “Guys and Dolls” or “Singing in the Rain.” Fosse’s voice and private model as a dancer and choreographer bleed by in alternative moments. In “Kiss Me Kate,” that is partially as a result of Fosse’s work on the movie went uncredited. You see his model most within the quantity “From This Moment On,” wherein Fosse himself seems as a featured dancer. He’s additionally featured in “Tom, Dick, or Harry” — one of many extra common songs from this musical.

Why’s this on the backside of this record? It’s merely not a fantastic adaptation of the musical. There’s a cause it is no more well-known. Plus, talking as a musical fan, the selection to make “Too Darn Hot” an attractive audition as an alternative of a joyous group dance is very unlucky. It would have been a lot cooler if Fosse had gotten to really choreograph the piece with a full ensemble.

9. Lenny

This rating, very like the movie’s subject material, could also be a bit controversial. Fosse’s third characteristic movie as a director, a biopic about Lenny Bruce starring Dustin Hoffman, is fairly boring to me, regardless of Hoffman’s stellar efficiency. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, together with finest image, finest actor, and finest director, however I simply could not get into it. I would rank it excessive in a list of biopics, nevertheless. It’s a slender portrait slightly than a grandiose try to cowl the comic’s total life story, with inventive modifying and gorgeous manufacturing design. But, as a Fosse movie, there are higher entries.  

“Lenny” additionally has a scene wherein Bruce repeats many racial slurs to make a degree. It’s merely not enjoyable to look at. This is one thing that the true Lenny Bruce did (they will not present you that on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which additionally contains a fictionalized model of Bruce) so it is value together with within the movie, particularly if you see Bruce getting arrested for making sexual references and never the hate speech. But that does not imply I’ve to applaud it.

8. The Pajama Game

Fosse jumps out within the quantity “Steam Heat,” which is carried out within the movie alongside his collaborator and paramour Gwen Verdon, who has a cameo function. It’s one of many many tune and dance numbers that resulted in Fosse getting labeled as a “hat guy” in popular culture. He loves hats, and hat-based choreography! It’s not Fosse’s solely signature, nevertheless it’s an enormous one. Other than that, like “Kiss Me Kate,” the choreography right here is fairly commonplace (it is value noting that Fosse choreographed the Broadway production of “The Pajama Game” as effectively, for which he gained a Tony). 

That stated, this can be a musical value revisiting due to its subject material. “The Pajama Game” is concerning the staff at a pajama manufacturing unit who go on strike to demand a residing wage. Even although it is a romantic comedy at coronary heart, the truth that a musical from the ’50s tackled labor rights and corruption paved the way in which for extra severe musicals about much more progressive subject material down the road. That’s one thing that Fosse was drawn to as each a director and a choreographer.

7. Damn Yankees

Speaking of ’50s musicals with darkish topics, “Damn Yankees” is a few man who sells his soul to the Devil to have the Washington Senators beat the New York Yankees — and so, whaddya know, the Devil seems and turns him into the proper baseball participant. Much like “The Pajama Game,” Fosse choreographed “Damn Yankees” on Broadway previous to the manufacturing of the movie. By the time the present made it to the display, it was already a phenomenon. 

That has quite a bit to do with Gwen Verdon, who stars because the Devil’s indentured assistant Lola, and, oh boy, does her well-known “seduction” quantity “Whatever Lola Wants” showcase what makes Fosse so totally different as a choreographer. It’s bizarre. It’s not historically attractive in any respect, nevertheless it is smart for the character. Later, Verdon has a duet with Fosse himself referred to as “Who’s Got the Pain” and the chemistry between the 2 of them is nearly unreal.

6. The Little Prince

When Fosse seems as a snake on this movie, he is virtually a parody of himself. He’s dressed all in black. He’s carrying a hat. A cigarette dangles from his mouth. He’s slinking round in a means that has since turn out to be synonymous with “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” and one other well-known performer. The clip of Fosse in “The Little Prince” usually goes viral due to how reminiscent his strikes are of Michael Jackson’s. In explicit, Fosse does the moonwalk years earlier than Jackson made it his trademark maneuver. Neither of them stole it from the opposite, however it’s fascinating to notice the similarities.

The movie itself earns its place on the record not solely due to Fosse’s choreography, however as a result of it is a type of nice kids’s films from the ’70s that, like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wiz,” may or may not traumatize you with some unexpectedly scary moments.

5. Star 80

Fosse’s final movie as a director is mostly thought-about to be his worst and most exploitative, however I discovered it fascinating nonetheless. You can see how “Star 80” might have impressed administrators like Jonathan Demme and Mary Herron. It’s true crime earlier than true crime turned a juggernaut. The movie is about Paul Snider, a person who infamously stalked and murdered his spouse, Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten, who was 9 years his junior, and subsequently died by suicide. It stars Eric Roberts, brother to Julia, who was infamously snubbed by the Oscars. 

It’s gritty. It’s twisted. It doesn’t maintain again. But there is a temporary second when Snider makes a remark about Dorothy’s youthful sister and the digicam lingers on their mom’s involved and realizing face that exemplifies why “Star 80” has worth. The movie is cynical with out glorifying darkness and obsession. Fosse was keenly conscious of poisonous masculinity and the male gaze in cinema at the same time as he, a temperamental womanizer himself, usually embodied it.

4. Sweet Charity

Fosse’s directorial debut bombed at the box office and obtained combined opinions, nevertheless it’s fairly dang enjoyable. It follows Charity Hope Valentine (Shirley MacLaine) as she bounces by life as a dancer-for-rent at a sleazy membership and tries to make her means up on the planet, balancing a number of love pursuits with the hopes that one among them will sweep her out of the gutter. It’s too lengthy. I’ll give the critics that. But, when you have the eye span or give your self an intermission, “Sweet Charity” is a pleasant weirdo of a film musical and an bold directorial debut. 

Every musical quantity is its personal ecosystem. “Big Spender” plunges you into the world of the Fandango Ballroom. The “Rich Man’s Frug,” which was rightfully a TikTok dance trend some time again, combines Fosse’s hyper-specific remoted actions with go-go dancing to point out how misplaced Charity is at a elaborate bar. “The Rhythm of Life” lets Sammy Davis Jr. showcase because the chief of a hippie cult. “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” is an “I Want” tune in triplicate, with Charity and her two besties dreaming of a greater life; Fosse’s choreography features as a barely extra mature tackle a Jerome Robbins-esque “West Side Story” quantity.

3. My Sister Eileen

This low-key ’50s musical is surprisingly charming. Check it out in case you get the possibility! Its story has been adapted many times. It began as a collection of brief tales written by Ruth McKenny and revealed in The New Yorker. Those had been tailored right into a play, which turned a straight comedy movie in 1942, with cameos from the Three Stooges, after which become a film musical. In addition, there’s one other Broadway musical referred to as “Wonderful Town” that can be primarily based on McKenney’s tales about transferring from Ohio to Greenwich Village along with her extra enticing sister, and that has utterly totally different songs. There’s an entire Eileen multiverse on the market. Who knew?

This 1955 musical is generally a musical rom-com, nevertheless it will get a little bit goofy. There’s a tune with some sailors that feels prefer it may have been plucked proper out of “Mary Poppins,” for instance. But, as is the case with the opposite film musicals Bob Fosse labored on earlier than he turned Fosse, his expertise shines by, and sure songs preview the kind of dancing he turned identified for within the many years to return. 

“My Sister Eileen” additionally reveals off Fosse’s expertise as an actor and performer along with his ability as a dancer. He performs a candy and bumbling man who works at a soda fountain and falls in love with Janet Leigh’s Eileen. The two of them are simply too freakin’ cute collectively.

2. Cabaret

Fosse’s best success, and the dragon he chased for the remainder of his life, is “Cabaret.” The movie took house eight Academy Awards, together with finest director, finest actress, and finest supporting actress (it misplaced finest image to “The Godfather”; in my humble opinion, in case your masterpiece goes to lose finest image, it’d as effectively be to a different masterpiece). It’s not shot like a typical Hollywood musical, both. It’s intimate. The ending will not be blissful. It’s harrowing and bleak.

“Cabaret” proves but once more that musicals could be darkish, clever, and difficult. The movie is about artists in Germany through the Weimar Republic who discover a secure haven within the Kit Kat Club as fascism rises round them. The male lead is bisexual; that is uncommon even now, and this was made virtually 50 years in the past. 

While the movie differs considerably from the Broadway present, subsequent productions of the musical had been reworked to pay homage to Fosse’s choreography and among the new songs that had been added for the film. Not solely is “Cabaret” a stellar adaptation of a stage musical and one of many best movie musicals ever made, it is also the uncommon movie musical that is thought-about higher than its supply materials.

1. All That Jazz

However, Fosse’s best achievement as a filmmaker and as an artist is the movie wherein he choreographed his personal loss of life. While it was snubbed on the Oscars, solely successful technical awards, “All That Jazz” gained the Palme d’Or at Cannes and has been immortalized by the National Film Registry and the Criterion Collection. It follows Roy Schneider as Joe Gideon, a director and choreographer not-so-thinly primarily based on Fosse himself, as he displays on his self-destructive profession and vices. 

It’s no shock that after writing the lyric “I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory” in “Hamilton,” two of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s greatest tasks had been the collection “Fosse/Verdon” concerning the rise and fall of Fosse, who died eight years after making “All That Jazz” (Miranda was a producer on the collection), and an adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical rock monologue “tick, tick…BOOM,” which mused on his loss of life 5 years earlier than it truly occurred. The connective thread is obvious despite the fact that the lives, deaths, and creations of those males had been comparatively disparate. 

But, even past that, “All That Jazz” stands out. The movie is daring, ingenious, darkly comedian, and completely fascinating. Fosse is so essential of his personal life that he primarily, utilizing immediately’s terminology, cancels himself. Few creative geniuses can say they did that. Even now, no person does it like Fosse!


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