Cabaret (1972)

PG   |    |  Drama, Musical

Cabaret (1972) Poster

A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.


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8 February 2018 | st-shot
| Forty-five years later Cabaret remains the musical to beat.
Since it release nearly a half century back Cabaret remains the last great American musical (Singing' in the Rain and West Side Story were made previous). As relevant now as it was then, carrying a tune and warning of creeping fascism, it's staying power is not only in its message but the bite of the music and two of the most memorable musical performances in film history with Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles and Joel Grey as the "Emcee."

University student Brian Roberts ( Michael York) freshly arrived in Berlin (Weimar Germany 1931) to complete his studies makes the acquaintance of Kit Kat Club performer Sally Bowles who shows him the ropes. Taken back by her brash personality at first he eventually warms to Sally and they become involved, he more serious than her. Together they encounter and share new friends but Brian comes to the realization that Sally is not about to give up a life of "divine decadence." Meanwhile in the streets, the parks, the clubs the Nazi Party and its brand of thuggery is becoming more prevalent.

Outside of a pace slowing subplot regarding two older students Robert is tutoring Cabaret is flawless film making in nearly every area with Minelli excelling in three (acting, singing, dancing) requirements and Grey's mischievously haunting master of ceremonies delivering a character for the ages. Director Bob Fosse working in a confined space smaller than a broadway stage for his musical numbers, the color muted by club smoke, delivers one excellently edited solid number after the next without betraying the mood with slick, flashy choreography on a stage the size of an aircraft carrier that lesser musicals depend on. Instead it maintains the funk of people dancing on a volcano in search of distraction from the impending doom they face. Musicals by nature are usually optimistic and upbeat. Sober Cabaret goes against the grain and succeeds beyond expectation as one of the finest musicals in film history.

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Did You Know?


The characters and plot in the film were based upon real persons and real events as documented in Christopher Isherwood's 1976 memoir "Christopher and His Kind." Sally Bowles was based on Jean Ross, a bohemian chanteuse whom the author shared lodgings with in Weimar Berlin and who had an abortion. Brian Roberts is based upon Isherwood himself, a gay man who occasionally had sex with women. Maximilian von Heune was based upon John Blomshield, a wealthy man who sexually pursued and then unceremoniously dumped both Isherwood and Ross. Additionally, characters in Isherwood's stories which do not appear in the film include Klaus Linke based upon Peter van Eyck. However, unlike other characters, the Emcee is not based upon a real person and was invented for the 1966 Broadway musical.


Sally: I saw a film the other day about syphilis. Ugh! It was too awful. I couldn't let a man touch me for a week. Is it true you can get it from kissing?
Fritz: Oh, yes. And your king, Henry VIII, got it from Cardinal Wolsey whispering in his ear.
Natalia: That is not, I ...


During the song "Cabaret", Sally's "cross your heart" halter dress changes from crossing left-over-right to right-over-left and back between shots.

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Berlin 1931

Alternate Versions

The bit of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" with a chorus of Hitler Youth singing the song was cut when the film was first released in West Berlin. When the film aired on television there in 1976, the cuts were reinstated.


Written by
John Kander and Fred Ebb


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Drama | Musical

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