All That Jazz appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though hampered by the source material to a degree, Jazz provided a generally very good transfer.
Sharpness mostly looked fine. Some shots came across as a bit soft and ill defined, but those instances didn’t occur with any great frequency. Most of the movie appeared reasonably detailed, though it rarely was terrifically crisp. I saw no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement showed up during the movie. In regard to print concerns, the film featured more grain than one might expect, but I believed that emanated from the original photography. Otherwise the movie seemed nicely free from flaws. I noticed a speckle or two but no other defects marred the presentation.
Colors seemed adequate for the most part but they never rose above that level. Another issue related to the era’s film stocks, Jazz featured a fairly natural palette, and most of the tones came across as acceptably accurate. The hues weren’t anything better than that, though, and the film ran into trouble with the occasional red or green colored lighting; those sequences looked somewhat dense and heavy. Black levels were unspectacular but generally fine, and low-light sequences followed along the same lines. Shadow detail seemed decent and didn’t show any particular problems, but those shots were somewhat lackluster. Again, many of the movie’s issues occurred because of the original photography. All That Jazz demonstrated a very solid transfer of that material, but the moderate blandness of the actual product knocked down my picture grade to a “B”.
The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of All That Jazz seemed mostly limited in scope. The majority of the movie appeared to offer essentially monaural audio. Dialogue and effects always seemed firmly rooted in the center channel. The first really noticeable example of stereo music happened during Joe’s parties in the hospital, and the production numbers after that made good use of the side speakers for the tunes. The surrounds may have offered some light reinforcement of these songs, but they seemed to play no distinct role. Without the occasional stereo song, the track stayed monaural.
Audio quality appeared acceptable for the era. Speech was a little thin but always sounded clear and easily intelligible, and I noticed no problems with brittleness or other issues. Effects played a small role in the movie, but they seemed reasonably accurate and clean. I heard no concerns connected to distortion from those elements. Music varied but generally was fairly bright and rich. The stereo production numbers showed moderately natural highs and some decent bass response. Nothing about the sound of All That Jazz stood out from the pack, and due to its modest scope, I felt it deserved a “C+”.
All That Jazz comes with a smattering of supplements. We open with an audio commentary from actor Roy Scheider, who offers a scene-specific track. Recorded in 2001, he remarks upon 23 different segments one can select from a menu. The actor covers a mix of topics related to the movie such as working with Fosse and his co-stars, the challenges of the role, and differentiating fact from fiction. A few too many of the segments just tell us about how great the others were, but Scheider gets into some good details. It’s interesting to hear his reflections on Fosse, and his story about how he got the role also seems compelling.
The presentation of the clips seems frustrating, mostly because it’s hard to tell when Scheider’s comments end. Periodically he goes quiet for a while though he has more to say on a subject. The DVD doesn’t return to the prior menu when Scheider finishes a topic, so we often get stuck with a lot of dead air. This makes the program more of a chore to navigate than I’d like.
In addition, we find interviews with Roy Scheider. Shot on the film’s set in 1979, the three snippets covered a few different topics like Scheider’s impressions of working with Fosse, the physical demands of the role, and some thoughts about his character. Though interesting from a historical perspective, all three bits are very short and don’t tell us much.
Bob Fosse On Set offers five clips in which we see him direct the “On Broadway” audition sequence from the movie’s start. These fairly brief snippets don’t offer a lot of insight into the director’s methods. However, they’re a step up from the Scheider interviews and seem moderately interesting.
Lastly, the DVD features some ads. We get the theatrical trailer for Jazz, presented anamorphic 1.85:1 with monaural sound. In the Fox Flix area, we see promos for the “Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection”, Oklahoma, The Rose, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific.
While the movie didn’t move me as much as it did 20-plus-years-ago, I still found All That Jazz to present a lively and provocative affair. Director Bob Fosse crafted a clever and intriguing semi-autobiography that earned points for daring and bluntness. The DVD looked and sounded pretty good considering its age. The supplements seem slight but given the disc’s list price of less than $15, there’s a nice selection of materials. With Fosse’s work back in the public eye due to the Oscar-winning Chicago, hopefully All That Jazz will find the audience it deserves.