Friday, April 20, 2007
A few weeks back, I ran into Joel Grey and his “Dirty Dancing” nose-jobbed-herself-out-of-a job daughter Jennifer on Christopher Street. I mean, Mr. Grey and his impish face are hard to miss. I guess I was staring a tad too hard, because he stuck out his hand and introduced himself. I mumbled a few star struck words and I was on my way, but it got me to thinking of Mr. Grey’s Oscar-winning role in Cabaret; and what a landmark film it was.
Although Cabaret is 25 years old, it is as fresh and reverent in 2007 as it was in 1972. Filmed by famed Broadway director Bob Fosse, his Broadway meets Hollywood mish mash style is all the rage today, but in 1972 it was quite new. I mean, his eerie meandering cinematography is a mesmerizing visual visit to a 1930's Berlin that is both haunting and disturbingly beautiful.
The movie is based on a short story from Christopher Isherwood’s brilliant memoir Berlin Stories. The plot is simple: A collection of social misfits – gays, transsexuals, Jews, performers, drunks, gold diggers – that live their lives in and around a decadent cabaret. As the characters smile and cry amidst the poverty and ruin of post World War 1 Germany, Hitler and his Nazis are slowly gaining political strength that will forever change the social landscape – the divine innocence would soon be gone.
The film won eight Oscars. Unfortunately, like many classic films, the actors that embodied the roles so brilliantly were forever pigeonholed. Liza Minnelli, now considered a haggard media joke, so embodied the part of Sally Bowles it stunted her career. But no matter how many gay men she weds or how many Letterman jokes she becomes, her Oscar winning portrayal is pure genius and can never be denied her.
As Cher - another fallen Oscar winner - recently said to her hecklers …”Fuck you, I’ve got an Oscar.”
Rent or buy Cabaret – it’s not only a visual treat, but also a slice of history that is educational, thought provoking and wildly entertaining.
Posted by THE ORAL REPORTER at 3:08 PM