Synopsis: In decadent 1931 Berlin, life inside
and outside the Kit Kat Klub is brilliantly told through the clever
blend of story and musical numbers, as the outside world of Nazi
politics grows into a brutal force, slowly affecting everyone.
Cabaret has been described as "An exquisitely
sculpted milestone in the history of the film musical" -
L.A. Times. Winner of 8 Oscars, Cabaret managed to "shape
a triumph of style, showmanship, and substance." Everything
from great production values, authentic German locations, a terrific
script, inspired direction to an incredibly talented cast, and
great musical numbers that were so well done, came together to
create a truly wonderful musical, setting a new standard of excellence.
The opening of the film has Bryan (Michael York)
a young, English professor moving into a boarding house in Berlin,
where he meets Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) an impulsive, morally
liberal, wanna-be actress, who makes a living performing as a
singer at the morally decadent German cabaret, The Kit Kat Klub.
The "impish" emcee, played by Joel Grey, hosts the show
offered to the audience, and sings as well. Joel Grey recreated
his role in the Broadway play of Cabaret, and won a Best Supporting
Actor Oscar for his brilliant efforts.
Bryan and Sally first become good friends, which
evolves into an intimate relationship, which is put to the test
when the rich Baron enters the scene, as Sally will do anything
to advance her career, and Bryan has a secret of his own. Moral
consequences and choices determine their destiny; and, as with
all the other characters, the rise of the Nazi forces change them
Michael York and Liza Minnelli have great screen
chemistry, and played well off each other, under Fosse's direction.
Their talented performances are sure to entertain, Liza won the
Best Actress Oscar, which she truly deserved.
A side story involves two of Bryan's English
students, played by two German actors. Helmut Griem plays a Gigolo,
who wants to improve his English, so he can impress the rich women
at parties. Marisa Berenson plays a rich, moral, Jewish heiress
who wants to improve herself.
What was special about the often humorous musical
numbers, besides the terrific staging, direction, and style, was
that they tied the story together by either expressing what was
going on in the plot, or what was soon going to happen. One Favorite
musical number is the humorous "Money" sequence, with
Joel Grey and Liza Minelli performing in their polished, professional,
amusing style. In the story, Bryan and Sally go to the Baron's
huge estate for the weekend, because Sally feels that this handsome,
yet morally corrupt Baron might be able to get her into the movies,
and she is also attracted to his money and loose lifestyle. While
the three of them head off toward the Baron's estate, the emcee
and two women performers do a funny, but bawdy song/routine on
the advantages of having a threesome in a relationship, to put
As the Nazi forces grow, the musical numbers
in the Kit Kat Klub are influenced by the movement. In one instance,
all performers, with Joel Grey in drag, dance an Austrian folk
dance in a humorous fashion, and march around in Nazi hats at
the end of the scene. This scene is inter spliced into the scene
of a man, who had earlier kicked a Nazi youth out of the Klub,
being brutally beaten to death outside the club by Nazi youth.
The tempo of the song, is the same tempo of the beating. Another
humorous bit has the emcee walking around the stage with a gorilla,
singing,"If you could see her like I do," but ends the
song with a brief, serious plea to live and let live. This song
also reflects on the storyline of Bryan's two German students,
whom he was tutoring (Marisa and Helmut Griem).
Also, if you look out in the audience, in the
final, closing number, Nazi officers can be seen visibly in the
audience, and the attitude of the emcee is solemn, as he says
his ending lines, that are supposed to be said in a funny way,
This movie is rated PG, but the brief but graphic
scene where the man is beaten to death, could upset sensitive
children, and adults as well. The dead dog scene as well could
be upsetting. The ending isn't the typical, happy musical one,
but is realistic, and ends on sort of an up note. The film does
show the consequences of a morally loose lifestyle, and makes
the point that where true love is valued, behaviors and attitudes
can be changed, even if it's hard to do. Nothing sexually graphic
is shown, just mildly to moderately insinuated. Some musical numbers
are a little naughty, but still in good taste; pretty bland by
today's standards. Cabaret is a classic, genre changing musical,
that is entertaining on several levels, and should be enjoyed
by most people.
Screenplay by: Jayne Presson Allen, based on
musical stage play by: John Van Druten, which was based on the
book, "Cabaret," by Joe Masteroff. Music by: John Kander.
Produced by: Cy Fever.