Choreographing and picking dancers for his current show whilst editing his feature film about a stand-up comedian is getting to Joe Gideon. Without the chemical substances, he would not have the energy to keep up with his girlfriend, his ex-wife, and his special dancing daughter. They attempt to bring him back from the brink, but it's too late for his exhausted body and stress-ravaged heart. He chain-smokes, uses drugs, sleeps with his dancers and overworks himself into open-heart surgery. Scenes from his past life start to encroach on the present and he becomes increasingly aware of his mortality.
This role of Joe Gideon is quite the change for Roy Scheider who just 4 years plaed the iconic role of Police Chief Martin Brody in the huge hit Jaws. For this reason, 20th Century Fox did not originally want Roy Scheider for the role of Joe Gideon. They had their eyes on Warren Beatty or Richard Dreyfuss (who left production after a lack of confidence) or a more critically acclaimed actor for the role. But, Director Bob Fosse stuck to his choice and fought for Scheider, eventually securing him in the lead.
On his role in this film, lead actor Roy Scheider once commented that he had sung, danced on the stage and acted before, but until this movie had never done all three in the one production.
And can you believe it, when this film was first released on videocassette (no DVDs back then), this was the first such video to have a soundtrack in Stereo sound.