Cabaret Full Movie Review
Cabaret is a stunning movie musical, one of the best ever made. It shows how people continue to live their lives in the face of encroaching fascism and war.
Flamboyant American cabaret singer Sally Bowles and British language teacher Brian Roberts navigate their relationship against the backdrop of Nazi Germany in this groundbreaking and iconic film.
Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli)
In Cabaret, Minnelli delivers a tour de force performance as Sally Bowles, the star of Berlin’s seedy Kit Kat Club. She is backed by the ever-impressive Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies, who effortlessly fuses the play’s vaudevillian style of camp with an old-timey jazz score. The musical numbers are the heart of this film, and Fosse’s camera gives viewers a front-row seat to experience them in all their kaleidoscopic splendor.
Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novella of the same name, Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera, and Kander and Ebb’s music, Sally Bowles is a show-stopper. A hedonistic caricature of a cabaret singer, she is a character with both lightness and darkness.
In addition to stealing the scene whenever she is on screen, Minnelli’s Sally is also a natural at singing and dancing. Her spirited personality makes it easy to understand why this role earned her an Oscar. It’s no wonder that Bob Fosse considered her his most memorable directorial effort to date.
Brian Roberts (Michael York)
It’s half a century since Cabaret first sashayed into cinemas, and its depressing themes of moral decadence remain just as potent today. The film’s slyly humorous and evocative songs serve a double purpose, providing entertainment while commenting on the dark issues beneath the surface.
Cambridge University student Brian Roberts moves into a cheap Berlin boarding house and befriends American club singer Sally Bowles, who works the Kit Kat Klub’s seedy strip bar. Sally’s outward flamboyance and sexual prowess are matched by her intellectual curiosity, and they become close friends.
Brian and Sally begin a romantic relationship, but the film takes an unexpected turn when Brian bangs the rich, aristocratic Baron Maximilian and enters a closed homosexual triad. This was one of the film’s first mainstream depictions of male bisexuality and was a watershed moment in queer representation on screen. With the sexy, risqué musical numbers, acerbic script and stunning performances from Liza Minnelli and Michael York, it’s no wonder Cabaret earned eight Academy Award nominations.
Baron Max von Heune (Helmut Griem)
While Cabaret avoids showing two men kiss, its songs and drama about social collapse center on sexual transgression. Helmut Griem -who is blessed with matinee idol looks and a strong erotic confidence- was no stranger to such roles. He is the suave baron, Maximilian von Heune, who seduces Sally and Brian. He has blond hair, a mustache, and an appetitive gap-tooth smile.
The movie is set during the closing days of the Weimar Republic in Germany and the rise of Nazism. Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) is an effusive singer at the seedy Kit Kat club while English PhD candidate Brian Roberts (Michael York) makes his living by teaching private lessons to locals for three marks an hour. They are roommates and romantic partners who fall in love. But their relationship is tested when they are showered with presents from the rich and suave Max von Heune. Can they stand against fascism together? Or will they be torn apart by their own desires?
Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey)
A young American (Brian Roberts) in Berlin takes a job in a Kit Kat club run by a sleazy, sinister emcee, while Nazi Germany’s power is growing. The film’s razzle-dazzle musical numbers and Oscar-winning score capture the tumultuous atmosphere of a world that’s changing rapidly and for the worse.
The stage and screen legend Joel Grey, 83, whose performance as the impish Master of Ceremonies in Bob Fosse’s classic film Cabaret won him a Tony and an Academy Award, opens up about his long and storied career onstage and in front of the camera. He’s here with Terry Gross to talk about his new memoir, Master of Ceremonies.
Throughout the book, he recounts his own sexual awakening as well as his complicated relationship with his parents. We’ll hear about the revelations that inspired the characters he created, and how the emcee in Cabaret helped him to discover a new way of being. JOEL GREY: (Singing) Willkommen, bienvenue, fremder, etranger, stranger, glucklich zu sehen, je suis enchanté, bleibe, rest, stay.