Cabaret

Released:  1972

Cast:  Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Joel Grey, Helmut Griem, Fritz Wepper, Marisa Berenson

Oscar Wins:  Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress (Liza Minnelli), Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey), Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Best Film Editing (David Bretherton), Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (Ralph Burns), Best Art Direction (Rolf Zehetbauer, Hans Jurgen Kiebach, Herbert Strabel), Best Sound (Robert Knudson, David Hildyard)

Oscar Nominations:  Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Jay Presson Allen)

SUMMARY:  Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) is an American cabaret performer living in Berlin in 1931.  When a young British man, Brian Roberts (Michael York) moves into the boarding house where she lives, Sally befriends him and attempts to seduce him.  Although Brian initially rejects Sally, they eventually begin a relationship.  Brian is also pulled into Sally’s wild life at the cabaret during the last days of the Weimar Republic.  At the cabaret, Sally meets Miximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem), a wealthy German who invites Sally and Brian to his country house.  During their visit, von Heune appears to be interested in both Sally and Brian, and it is later revealed that he had sexual relationships with both of them.

Not long after, Sally learns that she is pregnant, but is unsure of the father’s identity.  Brian offers to marry her and take her back to England with him, but Sally starts to doubt his affection for her.  She instead decides to abort the baby.  When Brian learns of this, the two decide to end their relationship on friendly terms; Brian returns to England, and Sally once again loses herself in the world of the cabaret.

MY TAKE:  This is a weird movie, in particular the Master of Ceremonies, played by Joel Grey.  Grey is the only person to have won both an Oscar and a Tony for the same role, and it’s easy to see why.  He’s mesmerizing in a creepy clown sort of way (interesting fact – Joel Grey is the father of Jennifer Grey, of Dirty Dancing fame).  The character of Sally Bowles is also pretty crazy (it’s like she’s on uppers all the time), which is both interesting and frustrating to watch.  In remembering this movie, my main emotion seems to be irritation, which probably comes from wishing the two main characters would get their acts together.  In general, I seem to not be fond of 70s-era movies.  It’s considered a great decade for film, but there seem to be a lot of waffling, morally ambiguous characters and symbolism (which tends to go over my head in the heat of the moment).  That’s probably why I did like The Godfather – at least he’s very clear on what he wants and how he’s going to get it.  For me, the best part of the movie was the music, particularly when Liza Minnelli sings “Maybe This Time”.

RATING:  Eh.  If anything, watch it for Joel Grey’s performance.

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One thought on “Cabaret

  1. I’m with you about it being a weird movie, for a different reason. The character of Sally Bowles is written as a free-spirited, not particularly talented performer. On Broadway, they cast a non-singer actress appropriate to the character. But for the movie we get world-class, show-stopping singer-dancer-actress Liza Minelli. If Sally could deliver like that, there’s just no way she would remain stuck in that ratty little club. Max Reinhardt would have sent a limo to whisk her off to Hollywood.

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