30 March 2014


Cabaret 1972
  • Director: Bob Fosse
  • Based on Good-bye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  • Cast: Liza Minelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Joel Grey, Fitz Wepper, Marisa Berenson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Liza Minelli  New York New York, Arthur, Tell Me that You Love Me Junie Moon
    • Michael York – Romeo and Juliet
    • Joel Grey – Dancer in the Dark, Kafka
    • Marisa Berenson – Colour Me Kubrick, Playing for Time
  • Why? An old favourite
  • Seen:  maybe 5 times earlier. Now: March 30, 2014 with Hal and YW in our read-book-watch-film circle.
       A musical that starts and ends with silence is startling and effective. There are other powerful moments that touch the viewer with a chill of the impending Nazi terror. Strongest is the idyllic country inn scene of the fresh faced handsome blond blue-eyed boy singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” in his angelic voice, wearing a Nazi uniform, standing stiffly at attention and ending with the Heil Hitler salute.  He is joined by everyone except an old man who seems to be seeing past and future horrors.
       Otherwise this is Liza Minelli’s film which is a strength and a weakness. She is the absolute Sally Bowles and Minelli plays her with wide-eyed manic perfection.  Sally Bowles is irritating, she’s supposed to be irritating, but in fact at times Minelli as Sally is, well, a bit irritating.  As is Michael York in his inhibited, clumsy, socially inept bourgeois scholarly Britishness.  But yes, they are both perfect for their roles.  The one who is absolutely spot on, though, is Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies.  Every nuance of his facial expressions, of his voice, is etched into my conception of the film.  Him I could watch daily.
       There are glimpses of what’s going on in Germany in the 30’s but it isn’t as grim as it should be. The stage production we saw in the Stockholm Stadsteatern a few years ago was much grimmer. And stronger.
       But what can I say? I love this film.  One of the best film exchanges in filmdom is:
       Brian: Screw Maximilian!
       Sally: I do.
       Brian: So do I.
       The orchestra is beautifully decadent, as are the dancers. Fosse knows his stuff.
       And the songs. Oh the songs! Liza Minelli (too bad her stage clothes are hideous) is just so good when she sings.
       It’s the kind of film that as the credits roll (in silence in this case) you already miss it.

7 ½ * of 10


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