Life is a cabaret, old chum.

The other Bob Fosse musical to make the list, Cabaret is an encapsulation of a slice of the life of Sally Bowles, played by Liza Minelli, and her complicated relationship with two men (one of which was, surprisingly, played by Michael York), as well as with the stage she shines so brightly on. As a character, Bowles is kind of vapid, but it was weirdly fascinating for me to watch her, I guess, at work. She certainly has a weird look about her, that’s for sure. The rest of the film, however, couldn’t be more conventional, except, of course, for the presence of musical numbers, but even they are mostly diegetic, and thus not one of the immersion-breaking aspects that makes me usually dislike musicals, despite my positive history with them.

While All That Jazz is definitely the more refined picture (surprising what seven years can do for a film’s quality), Cabaret is more in the style of a typical musical. Like All That Jazz, however, the musical numbers are inherently a part of the film’s universe, and not just people randomly breaking out into song to the tune of music that comes out of thin air, so there’s definitely that going for it. I can also see why people cite Fosse, and this film in particular, as an influence on Chicago; Chicago is a sugar-rushing, hyped up version of Cabaret with a different storyline, the two are so similar. Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland, is the star of this one, and she by far carries the picture on her shoulders; I like Garland more, but I think Minnelli is the more naturally talented actress, and she shows it a lot here. The editing, also, is damn near spot on; a trait I noticed in All That Jazz, and am glad to see in this one as well.

Now, the film deals with a menage-a-trois, in which two of the three are men and yet still have, erm, “relations” with each other, so if that rubs you the wrong way, this might make you a little more than uncomfortable (though nothing explicit is shown). It also has a healthy dose of Nazis, which is kind of off-putting for a musical (outside The Sound of Music), but it fit in pretty well, all things considered. All in all, I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not, where I was at least pretty certain I liked All That Jazz. I was even less certain about whether this should’ve made the list, with Fosse’s other film already on there. I guess I can live with it, though; I wasn’t too disappointed with Cabaret, but neither was I too overwhelmed.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10


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