In the film All That Jazz, the actor Roy Scheider plays a character named Joseph Gideon. We see Gideon's apartment repeatedly throughout the film. Downstairs there’s a living room with two couches. There's also a large black-and-white photograph in the room, prepared as wall-art but sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall.

In the center of the photograph, there is a film movie camera possibly in use, and around that film camera, one can see something of the location and the people standing nearby. The attire of the people, the old-fashioned appearance of the camera and the fact that the photograph is in black and white seem to set the captured moment a few generations in the past.

In an early scene, Gideon sits on one couch when Victoria asks him whether he expects her to become a movie star. She briefly sits on the other couch, and just as she gets up, we get a glimpse of the photograph.

The photo of the movie shoot Later in the film, Gideon sits in the living room again as his girlfriend Kate and his daughter Michelle perform a dance routine to the song Everything Old Is New Again. When Gideon is photographed frontally (not in profile) and sitting on the couch, the photograph is behind him and visible over his left shoulder (to the viewer’s right).

Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon, the black-and-white photo visible behind him and circled in red

The black-and-white photo excerpted from the image of Scheider

I did a Google image search of one of these photos and found a fairly similar image of Charlie Chaplin behind a movie camera.

A black-and-white image of Charlie Caplain behind a movie camera

Both Chaplain's camera and Gideon's have figure-eight-shaped film canisters at the top (unlike the camera in Buster Keaton's film The Cameraman, for example). Both images show the people in heavy clothes, some of them (but not the cameraman) in hats, in a bleak environment that may be snowy ground.

What does Gideon's photograph show?

  • 6
    I disagree with the "identification question" close votes. There is precedence for people asking about photos or paintings in the background of shots, and what they might signify.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 23, 2023 at 11:44
  • 1
    As soon as I saw it, I thought of Charlie Chaplin. Unfortunately, hundreds of image checking didn't end nicely... Here's what I "saw" Charlie Chaplin behind the camera (I added a smaller picture in the big one). Maybe I'm wrong :)
    – OldPadawan
    Mar 23, 2023 at 15:02
  • i was doing a search on vintage movie backlot photos used as posters (popular back in the 80s) but came up with zilch. Mar 23, 2023 at 20:58
  • I think this is an auto-biographical movie by Bob Fosse. Presumably the photo was taken during a project he worked on in the early 50s.
    – Yorik
    May 2, 2023 at 17:55


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .