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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Michael York
Joel Grey
Helmut Griem
Liza Minnelli.
Directors
Bob Fosse.
Screenwriters
Christopher Isherwood
John Van Druten
Joe Masteroff
Jay Allen.
Running Time
123 minutes

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Cabaret
The hugely enjoyable, occasionally chilling musical that made Liza Minnelli an icon


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Plot
Berlin in the 1920s. American Chanteuse Sally Bowles has a fling with bisexual British writer Brian Roberts and tries to carve out a career as a gold-digger, putting the moves on a handsome aristocrat, while the ascendant Nazis put a crimp in their madcap lifestyle.


Review

As Germany swings darkly through the inflationary 1920s and brownshirts take over the streets, Minnelli's emigre entertainer Sally Bowles waves her painted fingernails ('divine decadence') and does weird jazz with venomous MC Joel Grey. 

Christopher Isherwood's autobiographical Berlin stories (previously filmed as I Am a Camera, with Julie Harris as Sally) were turned into a play and then a Broadway musical, and are here wrestled into movie shape by chreographer Bob Fosse, who contributes an incredible razzle‑dazzle which landed the film up to its rolled stockings in Oscars.  It tries a little too hard to cross The Gold Diggers of 1933 with The Rise of the Third Reich to be comfortable, but stands as a hugely enjoyable, occasionally chilling, musical. 

The terrific score by John Kander and Fred Ebb includes showstoppers like 'Cabaret', 'Money Makes the World Go Around', 'If You Could See Her Though My Eyes' and, as repopularised by Spitting Image's Margaret Thatcher in the late 1980s, the second most-famous Nazi anthem (after ‘Springtime for Hitler’) written by Jews, 'Tomorrow Belongs to Me'. 

Few movie musicals since the Busby Berkeley days have managed so well the trick of presenting musical numbers as self-contained set-pieces - sketches rather than pop videos - that comment upon rather than advance the 'story'.  Liza Minnelli, whose subsequent career was been spotty at best, gets her one great moment centre-screen in a Louise Brooks haircut and fabulous ‘20s fashions, while the face-painted, sing-song Grey is amazing as a cross between Leonard Sachs, David Bowie and Dracula.

 


Verdict
Winner of eight Academy Awards, this holds up as a great musical of style and sleaze. Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey are electrifying; director Bob Fosse's choreography and the camera work are scintillating.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cabaret
Empire Star Rating

cabaret

A director's magnum opus with great perfomances (especially from leading lady Minnelli), electrifying musical numbers AND a gravura of the events that led to the phenomenon of Nazism..If this isn't classic, then what is? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by teo at 13:46, 14 May 2013 | Report This Post


Four stars Empire.......really?

Just to be straight I'm not knocking the film's message of background. The main problem I have with the film is the main characters. I watched this movie because I recently bought a '1001 films to see before you die' book and Cabaret was on the list. So while I'm not a fan of Liza Minelli (that picture of her in the bowler has always given me the creeps) I sat down and watched it. What I enjoyed most about the film was how you see the German people stand by while the Nazis take over, ra... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by brokenking at 13:26, 05 May 2009 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clonion at 23:52, 23 March 2007 | Report This Post


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