Sally Bowles, an American singer in 1930s Berlin, fall in love with bi-sexual Brian. They are both then seduced by Max, a rich playboy. Sally becomes pregnant, and Brian offers to marry her... All the characters are linked by the Kit-Kat club, a nightspot where Sally sings.
Liza Minnelli ... Sally Bowles
Michael York ... Brian Roberts
Helmut Griem ... Maximilian von Heune
Joel Grey ... Master of Ceremonies
Fritz Wepper ... Fritz Wendel
Marisa Berenson ... Natalia Landauer
Elisabeth Neumann-Viertel ... Fraulein Schneider
Helen Vita ... Fraulein Kost
Sigrid von Richthofen ... Fraulein Mayr (as Sigrid Von Richthofen)
Gerd Vespermann ... Bobby
Ralf Wolter ... Herr Ludwig
Georg Hartmann ... Willi
Ricky Renée ... Elke (as Ricky Renee)
Estrongo Nachama ... Cantor
Kathryn Doby ... Kit-Kat Dancer
Director: Bob Fosse
Nominated for 10 Oscars and won 8 Oscars:
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
Hans Jürgen Kiebach
Best Film Editing
Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation
Codecs: Xvid / AC3
Director Bob Fosse hasn't achieved an immense degree of recognition, but his movies have a distinctive flavour. He seems to have an obsession with the world of music-hall, which is felt in other movies like "Sweet Charity" and "All that Jazz". In his other movies though, musical performances tend to steal the show almost entirely. "Cabaret" is an exception because it has an interesting background and storyline, and the music-hall performances are cleverly used here to illustrate and emphasize the plot. They play about the same role as the Chorus in ancient Greek play.
Of course, the depiction of Cabaret's "Kit Kat Club" deserves attention all by itself. It is not surprising that a cabaret buff such as Bob Fosse took interest in the Weimar Republic period in Germany, when "divine decadence " was the name of the game. Only Bob Fosse could recreate with such consumed application the grotesque sleaze of Berlin's lowlife during the rise of Nazism, a context which served as inspiration for expressionist painters, and for Brecht's "Threepenny Opera". During the credits, check out a woman in the public with short hair and glasses smoking a cigarette (something quite dodgy in 1931!). It is the exact reproduction of a famous painting by Otto Dix.
An outrageously grinning clown (Joel Grey) introduces every cabaret number. The girls appear in all possible contorted postures keeping deadpan faces. The Kit Kat club reminds of a roman arena, where the public is out for anything insane (even women fights in the mud...). To give an idea of what sort of den the club is, Michael York finds himself at one point standing next to a transvestite in a men's urinal...The cabaret performances get all the more provocative as the plot gets tense. The club is an essentially immoral place where anything is for sale, and it adapts shamelessly to the radical political changes coming up.
Liza Minelli's character is totally at home in such surroundings. Her persona is perfectly sketched in her song "Bye Bye Mein Herr". She is the incarnation of the vamp, both heartless and ingenuous, the sort of lethal woman who drives men crazy and then gives them up like toys. Indeed, a very typical stereotype of the interwar period, think of Marlene Dietrich in "the Blue Angel"...Minelli's performance onstage with garter belts and a bowler hat still looks elegantly naughty today.
Though, the real nature of her character is well studied as soon as she gets offstage. While Minelli can't help being extravagant all the time, she turns out to be a fragile woman neglected by her father, and in demand of constant and renewed attention. As predicted in her song, she proves basically unable to engage in any serious relationship, despite her involvement with Michael York ( "And though I used to care, I need the open air, you'd every cause to doubt me Mein Herr").
The script was based a story by British writer Christopher Isherwood, called "A Goodbye to Berlin", based on his own personal memories. He is allegedly the character played by Michael York. A serious upper class young man, he meets Liza Minelli out of blind chance, while looking for an apartment to share. She introduces him to all sorts of people, from riff-raff to aristocracy, including a gigolo, a Jewish heiress, and an ambiguous baron who dismisses them both after having "played" with the two of them.
Michael York's sober performance looks a bit pale as opposed to histrionic Liza Minelli, but of course, that was necessary in order to stress the essential difference between those two strangers. The movie ends as they part on a railway platform, but one can guess their experience together will have changed them both, as as far as he is concerned, was a definite coming of age.
One of the scenes, in the middle of the movie, is quite disturbing. At a countryside inn, a young S.A man sings a song called "Tomorrow belongs to me", which starts out nostalgic but gradually turns into an infectious Nazi march as the whole crowd joins him. This unexpected number seems to have embarrassed many viewers. If Nazism had presented itself as pure evil, would it have met any success? This daring scene makes evident that it was for many Germans of the time the symbol of positive values : beauty, tradition, order, pride, future. If you didn't know how things turned out, would you not have been tempted to sing along this powerful hymn to the fatherland as you watch this? Good question to ask oneself even, or especially, nowadays...
I really wanted to see this movie after I bought the soundtrack for the Broadway revival version of the Cabaret musical this summer. So I bought the DVD and at first I was a little disappointed.Not by the movie really,but by the fact that not all the songs from the Broadway show were in the film.I really love that soundtrack so it mattered to me a lot.
Well by now I have really gotten over it.It doesn't matter anymore because the film works so well without the other songs,I feel it has everything essential from the stage version,which I have never even seen btw,yet anyway.
This is not your typical musical.It is made in a very realistic way,so there is no sudden singing like normally in musicals.Almost all the songs are performed in the Kit Kat club and they add to the seedy atmosphere there.Thinking about it now this was a good choice.It allows you to really focus on the characters and their development...as a realistic drama Cabaret is wonderful.
The actors are very good.I never cared much for Liza Minelli before but in this film she gives the perfect performance.Being very believable as Sally,who goes through so many things but still,in the end,decides to continue like before. "Life is a Cabaret old chum..."
Michael Yorke and Joel Grey are also very good.I have a thing for Alan Cumming from the Broadway version as the MC,he seemed so sleazy it was amazing,but I have to admit that Joel Grey was excellent in the movie.He was all together funny and creepy and I don't wonder why he got the Oscar from this role.
Cabaret deals a lot with the Nazis coming into power in Germany in the early 1930's,even though it looks like a secondary theme in the movie.The closing shot is off a room full of Nazis shown through a mirror.It leaves no questions about the future of Germany.I haven't seen that many films dealing with pre nazi Germany before and I thought this one did it quite well.
So Cabaret is basically not "just" a musical.It has some darker themes about society,as well as showing us what the night life,and life in general,in poor Germany after the first World War just before Hitler came to power was like.And yes it also has wonderful musical scenes,good acting and is definitely worth the time to check out if these things interest you!!
Under Bob Fosse's direction the cabaret numbers are all exciting. Joel grey as the Master of Ceremonies is outstanding. Liza Minelli as the brassy Sally Boules outshines everyone in her splendid "Come to the Cabaret" presentation.
It is amazing how much action can take place on the confines of the tiny cabaret stage and how soon one is completely absorbed in the solo acts. The cabaret audience and its reaction are left out of the picture most of the time, the camera concentrating on the singing and dancing. The choreography and costumes are top class and the acts soon become the most interesting part of the production.
Against a background of Nazi propaganda there are the continual rumblings of anti-Jewish sentiments in 1931 Berlin and a nervous anticipation of events likely to follow. But the MC invites his audience to leave all their problems, their worries, their cares outside and enjoy the cabaret where everything, just everything, is "beautiful".
Intertwined with the stage presentations at the cabaret are the off-stage relationships between Sally and her lovers. Understandably these scenes do not quite sparkle like the rest of the film. I do however enjoy the scene where Brian Roberts (Michael York) and Sally get a little tipsy, clink glasses and make a toast "Here's to you and the baby".
Liza Minelli has beautiful eyes which she uses to great advantage. She can give us a wonderful display of mixed emotions....laughing and crying at the same time with a tear-stained cheek. Great to watch and enjoy.
Life is very much so a Cabaret for Liza Minnelli in this musical.She gives the performance of her life as Sally Bowles.Her mother,the great Judy Garland would be proud of her. The songs are particuarly fantastic especially the title song and the wonderfully heart rending 'Maybe This Time'
* Five songs from the original Broadway production did not make it into the movie as "performed" songs, but appear as background music. On Brian's arrival, Sally prepares two Prairie Oysters and puts on a record, which turns out to be "Don't Tell Mama". When Sally tries to seduce Brian and she brings in the gramophone, the song is "It Couldn't Please Me More". This song, once again on gramophone, reappears when Sally is packing for Africa. In the parlor as Sally prepares to leave for dinner with her father, the song being played on the piano is "Married". This song makes a reprise when Sally and Brian talk about getting married, this time on the gramophone in German ("Heiraten") sung by 'GRETA KELLER' . This German version also appears in the park and at the train station. When Max, Brian and Sally have lunch at the fancy restaurant, a small ensemble is playing "Sitting Pretty", which is also heard on the gramophone at Max's estate, when they are dancing. When Brian and Fritz walk into the parlor together and the other tenants are talking about the Nazis, the background music (although faint and barely recognizable) is the song "So What".
* In the original Broadway version, the main characters are an American writer and English singer. In the film version, they are an English writer and an American singer.
* Brian expresses surprise that Sally Bowles is an American, a sly reference to the fact that in the musical on which the movie is based, Sally is British.
* The song "Married", originally in the Broadway version, was cut from the movie. It can be heard playing on a radio in the background during the scene where Brian and Sally are discussing marriage.
* In an interview given at the time of the film's release, Liza Minnelli said you could tell she was the star of the cabaret in which the movie is set because she's the only performer with shaved armpits.
* Has the distinction of winning the most Oscars (8) not one of which included the Best Picture Oscar
* Billy Wilder and Gene Kelly turned down the offer to direct the project before it was accepted by Bob Fosse.
* Selected in 2003 by the Smithsonian Institution as one of eight films being preserved for future generations.
* Liza Minnelli designed all her own hair and make-up with the help of her father, famed musical director Vincente Minnelli.
* In preparation for his revival of the role of the MC (Master of Ceremonies) in the film, Joel Grey did extensive research in order to achieve a completely authentic German accent.
* "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb in the style of a traditional German song, sung by the Nazi youth in the movie, to stir up patriotism for the "fatherland". It has often been mistaken for a genuine "Nazi anthem" and has led to the songwriters being accused of anti-Semitism. This would be most surprising, as they are, in fact, Jewish (This fact has not stopped openly racist and anti-Semitic rock groups, like Skrewdriver, from recording the song and performing it at White Power rallies). It is also the only song sung outside of the cabaret setting to survive the transition from stage to film.
* Originally sung in English, "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" was dubbed in German for the French version of the film.
* There is much speculation about the identity of the singer of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me". Apparently, Bob Fosse's biography states that the song was recorded for the film by Broadway actor/singer called Mark Lambert. This actor is said to have refused to dye his hair blond so a German extra (the "Nazi youth") stood in for him on camera.
* Years before Cabaret (1972) was filmed Liza Minnelli performed Maybe This Time when she appeared with her mother Judy Garland at the London Palladium.
* Many of the interiors of the film were done on sound stages in Munich recently vacated by the cast and crew of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
* The strange woman appearing at the beginning of the movie sitting in the back of the Kit Kat Club holding a cigarette is based on the painting "Portrait of Journalist, Sylvia Von Harden" by German Expressionist painter Otto Dix.
* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #63 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.