Directed by Bob Fosse
Written by Jay Presson Allen based on the stage musical by John Van Druten based on the book by
I’ve never seen a Bob Fosse movie before! How excite. I only knew a couple of things about this story: that it was set in Berlin just before World War 2, and that it was at a Cabaret. I knew nothing of the actual storyline and where it would go, but I did know a couple of the songs.
What I was most excited about in the early stages of the film was the possibility of Brian the Englishman being gay, there’s a whole conversation about it with Sally, and then he says he’s been with girls before but it’s not long before he’s kissing and sleeping with Sally so I was pretty sad. Imagine my glee when later there’s all these sparks between him and Max and then finally the reveal that yes, Sally has been sleeping with Max… and so has Brian! It was glorious. Also feels pretty massive for 1972, but of course we never see even a kiss between the two men. It was great though, to have a bi character who isn’t killed off or anything. It’s lovely. It’s very rare on this list of mine.
Liza Minelli is the star of the show, of course. With her massive eyelashes, massive mouth and impressive pipes. Watching this I was reminded of several other movies, which I suspect means it’s the forerunner of those films. Particularly Moulin Rouge, it felt a lot like that movie. She is funny and quirky, Brian is rather uptight and British but ultimately a lot of fun. I found Max a little bit creepy.
I found the setting, with the rise of the Nazi party edging in around the story very jarring. Obviously it has an impact on the story but it doesn’t have a big one… it just seems like shocking imagery thrown in there to show that the life of the Cabaret is a fantasy escape. It feels horrible when then the acts start to be anti-semetic as well, and the lead characters are all anti-Nazi… but I’m not sure it really came across as a particularly interesting message.
Does it make me love the people? I think so. I really liked Brian and wanted him to be gay an awful lot. Sally really reminded me of Holly Golightly, or any recent manic pixie dream girl you can imagine. The difference here is that it’s her story though. It’s not about how she changes a man it’s about how her life is impacted by a man and how she is unable to let go of her dream to become an actress. Also daddy issues, there are lots of those.
Bechdel test: Natalia talks to Sally, there’s small talk and there’s also talk about men but I think it passes.
Natalia: I am sorry to bother you, but I could not tell no one else. I do not know no other woman who gives her body so frequently… Oh! I am sorry, my English. Have I offended you?
Sally: Oh no, not at all.
Brian: Screw Maximilian!
Sally: I do.
Brian: So do I.
Sally: You two bastards!
Brian: Two? Two? Shouldn’t that be three?
State of Mind: Yes, it was great fun. Anna liked singing along with ‘maybe this time’ a lot, and we had to watch a couple of other renditions on youtube afterwards. Lea Michele’s was the best.