Cabaret will never be described as a feel-good movie. It’s doubtful that it can ever be described as family friendly, either. It is, however, a very powerful movie, with great performances, very moving — dealing with broken people in a broken world, set in Germany at a time when the Nazi party is just coming to power.
The main characters are:
- Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli) – a cabaret singer, with a wonderful voice, who’s great ambition is to become a great movie star. She has a facade of happiness, confidence, and strength, sexually promiscuous, but she’s afraid to expose her emotions and truly fall in love — her father, “practically an ambassador” never appears on screen, but is an important influence on her unhappy character.
- Brian Roberts (Michael York) – a Cambridge University student who has come to Germany to complete his studies, living in the same apartment building as Sally, who earns his living by giving English lessons. He becomes Sally’s best friend, and eventually her lover, despite being bi-sexual — or at best sexually confused.
- Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey) – the emcee at the Kit Kat Klub where Sally performs nightly. The scenes at the cabaret are, in many ways, the glue that holds the movie together, both setting the emotional tone and foreshadowing events.
- Fritz Wendel (Fritz Wepper) – one of Brian’s students, who becomes his best friend; a would-be gigolo who wants the easy life … until he begins to truly fall in love with …
- Natalia Landauer (Marisa Berenson) – a rich, young Jewish heiress who falls in love with Fritz — but can’t marry him since he’s not Jewish. Is he?
- Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem) – a selfish, self-centered, wealthy man who tries to buy Sally’s affections — and Brian’s as well.
Editorial review of Cabaret courtesy of Amazon.com
Winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress (Liza Minnelli), and Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey), Cabaret would also have taken Best Picture if it hadn’t been competing against The Godfather as the most acclaimed film of 1972. (Francis Ford Coppola would have to wait two years before winning Best Director, for The Godfather, Part II.) Brilliantly adapted from the acclaimed stage production, which was in turn inspired by Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and the play and movie I Am a Camera, this remarkable musical turns the pre-war Berlin of 1931 into a sexually charged haven of decadence. Minnelli commands the screen as nightclub entertainer Sally Bowles, who radiantly goes on with the show as the Nazis rise to power, holding her many male admirers (including Michael York and Helmut Griem) at a distance that keeps her from having to bother with genuinely deep emotions. Joel Grey is the master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub who will guarantee a great show night after night as a way of staving off the inevitable effects of war and dictatorship. They’re all living in a morally ambiguous vacuum of desperate anxiety, determined to keep up appearances as the real world–the world outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret–prepares for the nightmarish chaos of war. Director-choreographer Fosse achieves a finely tuned combination of devastating drama and ebullient entertainment, and the result is one of the most substantial screen musicals ever made. –Jeff Shannon
Songs in Cabaret
- Mein Herr (sung by Liza Minelli)
- Money, Money (sung by Liza Minelli and Joel Grey)
- Willkommen (sung by Joel Grey)
- Tomorrow Belongs To Me
- Cabaret (sung by Liza Minelli)
- Two Ladies (sung by Joel Grey)
- If You Could See Her (sung by Joel Grey)
- Maybe This Time (sung by Liza Minelli)
- Tiller Girls (sung by Joel Grey)