Containing Multitudes Since 2004
It's been almost twenty-five years, but I still miss Fosse. I guess it's not like with a Renaissance painter, where there's always the possibility of a lost masterpiece out there somewhere: we got what we got, and that's it.And it's worth pointing out that he was apparently the last film director who knew how to film choreography (and of course as someone with both skills he'd know how). Look at the dances in movies of the last twenty years, and how the impact of the moves is always diluted by less-than-perfect angles and editing.
Absolutely right - Fosse was a great director. He coaxed lifetime performances from actors who invariably ballooned out of control in other movies.
He forced ex-wife, Gwen Verdon--who'd originated the role to great acclaim on Broadway--to come to Hollywood to teach Shirley MacLaine how to dance Charity exactly as she'd done it on the stage. Great talent. Great director. Not-so-great human being.
Tommy O'C, you're right. Besides his talent, the other thing about Fosse is the extent to which he would trample on people, not sadistically, but very coldly, in order to get the work the way he wanted it. There's the story about what he did to Valerie Perrine during the filming of Lenny, to get a reaction shot. Perrine's boyfriend at the time was a helicopter pilot connected with the film shoot. When, in a key scene, she couldn't give the shocked emotional response Fosse wanted, he told her to stand in place while the technicians altered something. Perrine didn't know the camera was still on, and there was no technical work actually being done. Fosse began a conversation with one of the crew members, eventually saying "Did you hear about [Perrine's boyfriend]? Yeah, his chopper crashed and he was killed instantly." Perrine gasped. That's the shot that's in Lenny when her character is sentenced to prison. To his credit, when Fosse told this story on the Dick Cavett show (without naming the acress), he said it was something that he'd never do again.
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