Possibly one of the greatest musicals ever made. Wait a minute! Is Cabaret really a "true" musical? Sure, it has incredible dance sequences in the German cabaret. The music and lyrics of all the songs are brilliant to say the least. And the direction of Bob Fosse constructs a beautiful path to connect story to song equivalent to few films in the history of musicals. However, the background setting of Nazi Germany in the early 1930s in power, the overtones of strong anti-Semitism, and the overpowering liberal sexuality both in the cabaret and the outside storylines, create a dramatic atmosphere in which the music of the film only exemplifies.
The film on all terms is superb. The acting is all very expressive (even including the usually extremely dull Michael York as the sexually inactive Englishman in his fish-out-of-water character). Liza Minnelli is outstanding as the American star wannable. Her portrayal of Sally Bowles won her an Academy Award for best actress in 1972. However, one performance stands out above the rest. Probably one of the top 5 greatest supporting roles in the history of movies, Joel Grey's perfomance as the cabaret emcee (he too won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). His outlandish dance sequences and over-the top characterization of a showman gives his audiences extreme pleasure as well as harmlessly poking fun of society, while literally at the sme time just outside the doors of the cabaret, the world is in turmoil.
When you catagorize this movie as a musical or drama, you cannot avoid the fact that in a moving two-plus hours this film will make you sing, dance, bring you to tears, and most importantly think about the horrifying Nazi power in the 1930s, all at the same time. It was a shame that the American Film Institute (AFI) didn't recognize this film in their top 100 films. It should be in the upper echelon among the greats.
Jack's Rating: A+