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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Life is still a Cabaret
Liza Minnelli takes the lead as Sally Bowles
The film is based in Berlin in the 1930s

It is 30 years since Liza Minnelli first high-kicked her way across the big screen in Bob Fosse's film version of the musical Cabaret.

The movie - which won eight Oscars - is being re-released to celebrate the anniversary, allowing cinema-goers to get reacquainted with the iconic Sally Bowles.

It is 1931 and Sally (Minnelli), an American in Berlin, is one of the turns at a back-street nightclub.

Her bohemian circle of friends includes cross-dressers, prostitutes and gigolos, but outside the club's sanctuary, the Nazis are taking over.

Liza Minnelli with co-star Michael York
The decadence cannot be sustained during war time
Sally and her bisexual lover - a quiet Englishman called Brian (Michael York) - embark on a hedonistic affair with the aristocratic Max (Helmut Griem), which forces some harsh decisions.

The plot is intertwined with the action at Sally's workplace - the seedy Kit Kat Club, where bawdy song-and-dance numbers (including Money Money and Mein Herr) echo the trials and tribulations facing Sally and her friends.

Fascism

Minnelli is fabulous in the lead role. Her strong image (spider-like eyelashes and pixie-cut hair) is complemented by strong acting, singing and dancing. She was made for Fosse's trademark "chair and hat" routines and, off-stage, her Sally is kooky and liberated, yet sweet and vulnerable.

Michael York's reserved Englishman is the perfect foil to her brash American and Joel Grey (reprising the Master of Ceremonies role he played on Broadway) and Fritz Wepper (as Fritz the gigolo) provide strong support.

Cabaret won eight Oscars
The film has a dark undercurrent
Indeed, the sub-plot involving Fritz and his rich Jewish lover makes the threat of Nazism - an issue running through the film - even more disturbing from a modern-day perspective, as you know the fate that is likely to befall them.

The entire film is pervaded by a sense of impending doom. Sally and her friends cannot sustain their "divinely decadent" lifestyle without getting damaged. The Nazis even succeed in infiltrating the Kit Kat Club, and there is no room for carefree people in wartime.

The dialogue is also superb. Sally and Brian discover they are both Max's lovers in an angry exchange which will take your breath away.

Cabaret reaches across several genres to satisfy most film fans. It is a musical, romance, drama and social commentary rolled into one. It is dark, yet vibrant. It is a wonderful film with a stunning score. I am not surprised it won eight Oscars.

Cabaret is released at the National Film Theatre on Friday 21 June.

See also:

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15 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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