Warner Brothers / 1972 / 124 min. / PG
When CABARET was released in 1972, the movie musical was as dead as dead could be. Several years of gigantic budget, major Hollywood productions flopped at the box office with such resounding thuds that it seemed there was no way the movie musical could ever recover. Then along came Bob Fosse and his film version of the 1966 Broadway musical CABARET. The film was unlike any musical made before. Characters didn't burst into gleeful song to tell their story; songs were firmly kept in real world situations sung at the cabaret or parties. The story dealt openly and sometimes uncomfortably with such issues as bi-sexuality and Nazism. It was a dark story that promised no happy ending, the complete opposite of what musicals were for over half a century.
CABARET follows the odd yet perfectly imperfect friendship between the bi-sexual Brian Roberts (Michael York), who has come to Berlin to complete his doctoral thesis, and the divinely decadent singer of the Kit Kat Klub, Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), who yearns to be an actress. While we follow their day-to-day lives, loves and problems as the center of the story, the fall of the Weimer Republic and the rise of Nazism are shown in the background all around them. Director Fosse uses the Kit Kat Klub and its sinisterly demonic Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey) to show this political shift, intercutting scenes of bloody violence with songs performed on stage, and also using the jubilant songs and their lyrics to show the change with horrifying punch lines.
The Academy Awards for 1972 featured two films that were both lavished with 10 nominations each: CABARET and THE GODFATHER. While THE GODFATHER would go on to win Best Picture and two other awards, CABARET walked away with a staggering 8 statues, including Best Director (Fosse), Best Actress (Minnelli) and Best Supporting Actor (Grey.) The film still packs a solid punch some forty years later and while it didn't bring the movie musical back to the mainstream, it did change the way musicals were made from then on. This is a musical for people who don't care for musicals. This is genius on celluloid. This is CABARET.
Another absolutely 5 star transfer from Warner Brothers, CABARET comes to Blu-ray with a reference quality anamorphic 1.85 picture and spectacular sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. It will be very hard if not impossible to top the quality of this disc in future releases.
The vundebar supplement package features a combination previously released and a few excellent new goodies that will delight fans of the film to no end.
First up is a very good newly recorded commentary track from Stephen Tropiano, author of the book "CABARET: Music on Film." His knowledge of the film is deep, his delivery is casual and even though he slips into describing on-screen action from time to time, this is a must hear track.
The other new supplement is a great look back on Fosse's career and the importance of CABARET specifically: "CABARET: The Musical the Changed Musicals." Minnelli, Grey and York (sounding heartbreakingly sick) all contribute as do a host of professional fans including Ben Vereen, Bebe Neuwirth and CHICAGO director Rob Marshall.
"CABARET: A Legend in the Making" is from 1997. It is a solid if short (a little under 20 minutes) making of but features a host of participants who are sadly no longer with us.
"The Recreation of an Era" is a vintage promotional piece.
The "Kit Kat Klub Memory Gallery" holds loads of interview pieces (over an hour and a half worth!) that appear to be outtakes from the "Legend in the Making" featurette. Each main section holds an average of two or three pieces. These main sections are broken out into:
"Liza Minnelli Remembers"
"Joel Grey Remembers"
"Michael York Remembers"
"Martin Baum Reminisces"
"Cy Feuer Reminisces"
"Emanuel L. Wolf Remembers"
"John Kander Remembers"
"Jay Presson Allen Reminisces"
"Fred Ebb Remembers"
The films' original theatrical trailer rounds out the supplement package.
One of the finest and most important musicals of all time, CABARET comes to Blu-ray in fine style. Highly Recommended!