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May 24 - 28, 2003

DIRECTORS IN FOCUS
Fosse!

The son of a vaudevillian and an experienced choreographer and performer in burlesque shows by his early teens, Bob Fosse (1927–87) was destined for a career in show business. Ultimately, Fosse became one of the great theater artists of his time, directing and choreographing legendary Broadway productions such as Pippin (1972) and Chicago (1975). His talents as a dancer and choreographer on the stage caught the attention of Hollywood, and his film career began with choreography and performances in several films in the 1950s that were based on Broadway hits, most notably Damn Yankees (1958). Fosse went on to direct five feature films, all informed by his experiences in performance and collectively displaying both the allures and the underbelly of the theatrical lifestyle.

All prints in this series are drawn from the HFA collection.



May 24 (Saturday) 7 pm - Introduced by HFA Conservator Julie Buck
May 28 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Cabaret

Directed by Bob Fosse
US 1972, 35mm, color, 123 min.
With Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Joel Grey

Fosse won an Oscar for best director for his masterful handling of socio-sexual and political themes in the form of a musical, a genre previously reserved for lighter subject matter. Liza Minnelli provides an Oscar-winning performance as Sally Bowles, an émigré aspiring to stardom at the Kit Kat Club in late Weimar-era Berlin. The seedy, decadent atmosphere of the club, where escapism and denial are ever-present, provides an ominous backdrop to the encroaching threat of the Nazi party occurring in the world outside. Joel Grey, as the devilish Master of Ceremonies, also earned an Academy Award, for supporting actor, as did Geoffrey Unsworth, for cinematography.

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May 24 (Saturday) 9:15 pm
May 27 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Lenny

Directed by Bob Fosse
US 1974, 35mm, b/w, 111 min.
With Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine

Fosse’s raw and immediate black-and-white film is a stunning portrait of his friend, the infamous 1960s stand-up comedian and iconoclast Lenny Bruce, persecuted in his time for his "obscene" and topical acts and celebrated only after his death from a drug overdose. Like other Fosse films, Lenny is told in flashback in order to illustrate the insight that is gained from hindsight. It is also another Fosse statement on the theme of the stage as a forum for exposing the underbelly of life. Hoffman is predictably brilliant in the role of Bruce, and Valerie Perrine—as Honey, the stripper with whom Bruce embarks on a tumultuous marriage—provides strong support.

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May 25 (Sunday) 7 pm
May 28 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

All That Jazz

Directed by Bob Fosse
US 1979, 35mm, color, 123 min.
With Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, Ann Reinking

Often compared with Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, this semi-autobiographical film chronicles the physical and mental disintegration of Joe Gideon, a Broadway director (brilliantly portrayed by Roy Scheider) who is unable to confront the challenges and addictions of his personal life. While juggling the direction of a Broadway musical, the editing of an ill-fated film, the seduction of a host of women, and the needs of his daughter, Joe is forced to come to terms with his imminent mortality, personified by the character of the sympathetic Angelique (Lange). The musical numbers, from the explosive "On Broadway" to the sobering "Bye, Bye Life," are tour-de-forces of set design and Fosse choreography.

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May 25 (Sunday) 9:15 pm
May 27 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Star 80

Directed by Bob Fosse
US 1983, 35mm, color, 103 min.
With Mariel Hemingway, Eric Roberts, Cliff Robertson

Partly factual, partly (for legal reasons) evasive, and always speculative, Fosse’s final film is his most explicit and grim meditation on the downside of fame and the violence perpetuated by machismo. The film deals with the meteoric rise to stardom of naïve girl-next-door type Dorothy Stratten (Hemingway), Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1980 who was murdered by her estranged and narcissistic husband-manager, Paul Snider (Roberts). Cliff Robertson is cannily believable as Hugh Hefner, symbol of the artificial world of Southern California glitz and glamour, while famed Swedish cameraman Sven Nykvist minimizes that world’s luster with his earth-toned cinematography.

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May 26 (Monday) 7 pm

Sweet Charity

Directed by Bob Fosse
US 1969, 35mm, color, 149 min.
With Shirley MacLaine, John McMartin, Ricardo Montalban

After successfully staging this Neil Simon musical on Broadway in the late 1960s, Fosse was given free reign as director and choreographer to bring it to the screen. This bittersweet musical, based on Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, chronicles the exploits of the eternally hopeful Charity Hope Valentine (MacLaine), a dance-hall hostess who only wants to be loved but seldom meets with fortune in her relationships with men. Although a box-office failure in its time, Sweet Charity stands today as a highly enjoyable time capsule of the psychedelic sixties, replete with zealous use of the zoom lens, interludes of still images, and Sammy Davis, Jr. memorably singing-preaching the "Rhythm of Life."

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