Cabaret (1972) Movie Review: “Come to the Cabaret, Old Chum!”

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

This is one of the most iconic and celebrated musicals of all time.  The triumphant winner of eight Academy Awards, Cabaret has definitely remained a classic within cinematic history.  Sally Bowles is one of the best characters ever conceived by the human imagination, and Christopher Isherwood (who wrote that character in his short story “Goodbye to Berlin”) actually enjoyed the fact that this film bolstered his career.  This film might not be for everyone given its dark subject matter, but it is nice to know that the Master of Ceremonies will welcome guests to the cabaret just because Sally Bowles herself sang, “Life is a cabaret!”

A Toast

Since this is a stylish musical, this film obviously won Academy Awards for its art direction, cinematography, and score.  The acting from Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli is phenomenal, and it is no surprise that these two performers won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for their performances.  Part of the brilliance of Liza Minnelli’s performance is that there are some instances in which she actually sounds like her mother, Judy Garland, during her musical numbers.  Like mother, like daughter, they would say!

Needless to say, the music of this film is amazing as well.  Cabaret might not have received any “Best Original Song” nominations at the Academy Awards, but it did receive nominations at the Golden Globes for the songs “Mein Herr” and “Money, Money.”  This film even features songs covered on the popular TV show Glee (2009-2015) because Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele actually sang the song “Maybe This Time” together when Chenoweth played April Rhodes on the fifth episode of that beloved musical dramedy.  Cabaret also led to the creation of one of the greatest films of all time, the 2002 “Best Picture” winner Chicago.  All of these reasons are why Cabaret is definitely a timeless musical.


Warning: This film might not be that suitable for younger audiences.  That is because this film directly addresses controversial subject matter, but there will be no spoilers in this review.  Nevertheless, it is a blessing to know that Christopher Isherwood created Sally Bowles on print so that Liza Minnelli could play her on-screen.  Even Emma Stone of La La Land (2016) fame played Sally Bowles on the stage as well, which suggests that Sally Bowles is such a seminal and classic character.  (Fun fact: Christopher Isherwood has taught at California State University- Los Angeles, which is Alex Phuong’s alma mater.)  Life might be bleak at times, and life itself is short, but life really can be like a cabaret!

Cabaret (1972) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every musical number

Take a Drink: every time Joel Grey alternates between German, French, and English

Drink a Shot: for every reference to Nazis

And Cheers: for the notion that life can be a cabaret, so come on over!

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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