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Cabaret
USA 1972
Directed by Bob Fosse
Running time 128 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


Set in Berlin the early 193Os, Cabaret is the story of Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), a self-styled starlet and singer at the Kit-Kat Club with grand ambitions to make the big time. Her wicked ways are observed by the rather naive young Englishman Brian Roberts (Michael York), a variant of Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway, who valiantly tries to save Sally from herself.

Although not as able to shock (abortion was not a subject heard in mainstream cinema of the time) as when originally released, this adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, based on John van Druten's play, I Am A Camera, which was filmed in 1955, itself based on the Christopher Isherwood novel Goodbye To Berlin is still one of the best films of the 1970s.

Oscar winners Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli are outstanding but ultimately the film's success depends on the great songs by Fred Ebbs and John Kander, that, unlike most musicals are seamlessly woven into the narrative, rather than breaking away from it. Even more exceptionally the film itself stands up as a dramatic whole, a scintillating representation of the Nazi phenomenon and the world it would destroy.

Fosse won the Best Director Oscar and it also took home prizes for its cinematography, sound, editing, art direction and scoring (somewhat inconsistently The Godfather took out Best Picture). It is also probably the only role where York's woodenness stood him in good stead.

 

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