Cambridge University student Brian Roberts arrives in Berlin in 1931 to complete his German studies. Without much money, he plans on making a living teaching English while living in an inexpensive rooming house, where he befriends another of the tenants, American Sally Bowles. She is outwardly a flamboyant, perpetually happy person who works as a singer at the decadent Kit Kat Klub, a cabaret styled venue. Sally's outward façade is matched by that of the Klub, overseen by the omnipresent Master of Ceremonies. Sally draws Brian into her world, and initially wants him to be one of her many lovers, until she learns that he is a homosexual, albeit a celibate one. Among their other friends are his students, the poor Fritz Wendel, who wants to be a gigolo to live a comfortable life, and the straight-laced and beautiful Natalia Landauer, a Jewish heiress. Fritz initially sees Natalia as his money ticket, but eventually falls for her. However Natalia is suspect of his motives and cannot ... Written by
1973 was a very good year for legendary director/choreographer Bob Fosse. He won an Emmy for directing and choreographing the television special LIZA WITH A Z, he won a Tony for directing the Broadway musical PIPPIN, and blindsided Francis Ford Copolla by winning an Oscar for Best Director for CABARET, the dazzling 1972 film version, which is Fosse's re-thinking of the 1966 Broadway musical. The stage and screen versions are quite different and as independent works, they stand on their own as outstanding achievements and it is not necessary to have seen the play to appreciate the movie. The main focal point of Fosse's re-thinking of the musical is that he wanted it to be a more "realistic" musical and therefore made sure that all of the musical numbers (with the exception of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me")all took place within the walls of the Kit Kat Club. He cut several numbers from the original score, but if you listen, some of them can be heard as background music in several scenes. He also shifted the focus of the way the story is told...the play tells the story from the leading man's point of view, but Fosse switches the focus to the character of Sally Bowles, the brassy, sassy party girl who believes in "divine decadence' and wears bright green fingernail polish. Fosse also takes two secondary characters from the play, who are older, and makes them young and attractive in order to make their story more youth-friendly, I imagine. Liza Minnelli turns in a dazzling Oscar-winning performance as Sally, a gutsy, self-absorbed party girl who shows signs of vulnerability and a desperate need to be loved. Minnelli makes the most of her musical and non-musical moments in the film...her climactic confrontation with Brian (Michael York)is brilliantly performed. York is charming and sexy as Brian and Joel Grey's Oscar winning turn as the Master of Ceremonies is a delight. The musical numbers are all brilliantly staged and performed, from the opening number "Willkomenn" to the new "Money" song performed by Minnelli and Grey, to "Maybe this Time", the ballad belted out by Minnelli onstage in the empty club. Fosse cleverly counterparts the musical numbers with the realities of what is going on in Nazi Occupied 1931 Berlin with sometimes startling effect. "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" still gives me goosebumps every time I watch the film. This film ruled at the '73 Oscars, winning eight awards in all (it lost Best Picture to THE GODFATHER)and deserved every accolade it received. A sparkling, eye-popping, thought-provoking, haunting film experience that should be savored over and over again.
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