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USA 1972
Directed by
Bob Fosse
128 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Set in Berlin the early 193Os with National Socialism on the rise Cabaret tells the story of Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), a young singer at the Kit-Kat Club with grand ambitions to be a star of stage and screen. One day she meets earnest young Englishman Brian Roberts (Michael York) who has ambitions to be writer. Sally is a devotee of all things decadent whilst Brian, who moves into her apartment building valiantly tries to save Sally from herself.

Although not as able to shock (abortion was not a subject spoken of in mainstream cinema of the time) as when originally released, this adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, based on John van Druten's play, I Am A Camera, which was filmed in 1955, and itself based on the Christopher Isherwood autobiographical novel Goodbye To Berlin is still one of the most iconic films of the 1970s, its polymorphous sexuality and taste for fin de siècle decadence, like glam rock, very much characterising the Zeitgeist.

Oscar winners Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli are outstanding in the cabaret numbers but ultimately the film's success depends on the great songs by Fred Ebbs and John Kander, that, unlike most musicals are seamlessly woven into the narrative, rather than breaking away from it. Nevertheless, perhaps due to Michael York's typical woodenness, more so than his character's awkwardness, the scenes between Brian, Sally and Max (Helmut Griem) tend to lack zest and overall Sally's endless witterings about her "delicious decadence" overstate her insecurities. Why Brian or indeed anyone, would find this enchanting is not apparent and it doesn't help that Minnelli's looks are not the sort that will audiences would relish.

Whilst in the romance stakes the film could have shed a good half-hour it does economically represent the rise of the Nazi phenomenon and the impending fall of the privileged world it would destroy, 

Unfortunately, for the film could have done with more, five songs were cut from the stage production and only appear in the film as incidental background music.

Although The Godfather, rather unfairly, took out the Best Picture Oscar, Fosse won Best Director and the film also took home prizes for its cinematography, sound, editing, art direction and scoring




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