Saturday, 18 August 2012
Cabaret (1972) - ★★★★★
Writer: Joe Masteroff (Book), John Van Druten (Play), Jay Presson Allen (Screenplay)
Stars: Liza Minelli, Joel Grey, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Fritz Wepper, Marisa Berenson
How unlucky it is that Cabaret just happened to be released the same year as The Godfather, for both are legendary films and both were worthy of Best Picture, but it was Francis Ford Coppola's epic that earned the Oscar. However, it was director of Cabaret, Bob Fosse, that nabbed the Oscar for direction. Cabaret is one of the most engrossing, entertaining films I have ever seen and has swept me into regarding it as one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Set during the rise of the Nazi regime circa 1930 Germany, we enter the life of Sally Bowles, played beautifully by Liza Minelli in her greatest performance. She is a singing, dancing, charismatic firework of a woman that is highly likeable early into the film. Her dream is to star in movies, which fuels her to do anything to reach that goal (even sleep with men). Although she does seem cheap at times, it's hard to dislike her even with her many shortcomings.
When a tutor from England named Brian (Michael York) rents a room next to Sally, there is an instant friendship between the two. This friendship grows into a relationship, which the film then follows and enacts through music on the stage. Further on into the film, there is a steamy love triangle when another man (Helmut Griem) enters the picture. Such twists occur that left me shocked and grinning wildly, for they were so unexpected and daring. I loved it!
With many iconic songs such as "Money Makes the World Go Around" and "Life is a Cabaret," the whole movie is engrossing from start to finish. What I love about it is that although there is much music, there is just as much storyline and dialogue (something many musicals lack). There is an interesting scene where she asks Brian whether he likes men or women, which is pretty out there in terms of dialogue, for the celluloid closet was rather full due to homophobia back in the day.
One scene was particularly haunting when a Hitler Youth started singing to promote the rise of the Nazi's in which people joined in with patriotic enthusiasm. There was so much going on in this film that I dare to say that this is one of the most entertaining films of all time. Joel Grey played the MC of the club that Sally worked at and also the MC of the film. Grey gave one of the greatest supporting performances of all time, being equally weird and hilarious. His music narrated the story and displayed the underlying themes that the film explored.
Cabaret takes you on a wild ride with Sally Bowles, one that made me never want to get off. It's shocking and fun, it's light and airy, it's dark and brooding, it's fun and games, it's happy and sad. This film has it all and that's why I love it!