A free-spirited entertainer romances an English
teacher in Berlin just as the Nazis rise to power.
Directed by Bob Fosse
Written by Jay Presson Allen
Starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Joel Grey,
Fritz Wepper, Helmut Griem, Marisa Berenson
Based on the stage musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb
and the novel The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Liza Minnelli), Best Supporting
Actor (Joel Grey), Best Director, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing,
Best Original Score (Ralph Burns)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
Cabaret is so much more than a 70's musical. It's one of the most decorated films in Oscar history, and I would say it's one of the most iconic musicals of all time. It snapshots a rare moment in history, a calm before the storm. Berlin 1931, just as the Nazis were growing from a swarm of nuts to the dominant political party in Germany. At the time, I doubt anybody really knew what was about to happen, and that is shown repeatedly throughout Cabaret. More so, it's such a wild, unique film thanks to the remarkable performance of Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies. Much in the same vein as Chicago, the cabaret scenes act as transitions between the scenes of real life, where Sally (Minnelli) and Brian (York) embark on a doomed romance.
Life is dismal and too painful, which is why people flock to the cabaret. There, life is fun, exciting, and magical. Problems don't exist. Only solutions. It's there that Sally Bowles has made her home. She does whatever and whoever she wants; to hell with the consequences. Then she meets straight-laced English teacher Brian Roberts, and the two hit it off. He's attracted to her wild, untamable nature, and she sees him as someone she can corrupt. Of course, life gets in the way, and things get real when they both start seeing the same man, and an unwanted pregnancy threatens everyone's futures. There's also the Nazis, who keep popping up like weeds. Granted, I think the Nazi stuff could've gone further or had more connection to the main plot. Otherwise, it could've been left out entirely and nothing changes.
Still, Cabaret is a delightful movie that is pure escapism. Reality injected with heavy doses of fantasy when needed. That's what it's all about. If it wasn't for the cinematic titan that was The Godfather, this film would be a Best Picture winner. Alas, it's still a really good movie.