On This Gay Day: The film ‘Cabaret’ was released in 1972

The musical film Cabaret opened in New York on this day in 1972

The musical Cabaret opened on this day in 1972 , it became an iconic moment in the careers of stars Liza Minelli, Joel Grey and Michael York.

Set in Belin in 1931 during the Weimar Republic, the musical was written by duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, and is based on the book Berlin Stories written by Christopher Isherwood. The book had previous been adapted into the play I Am Camera.

It tells the story of a young American actress called Sally Bowles who performs cabaret in The Kit Kat Klub. Brian Roberts, a reserved academic and writer moves into the boarding house where Sally lives, and she introduces him to her bohemian world.

The musical had first been staged in 1966, and Joel Grey had played the role of The Emcee of the nightclub in the original production. For the film version Liza Minelli was cast in the lead role prior to director Bob Fosse being attached to the project. When Fosse came onboard he hired English actor Michael York to play the character of Brian.

Kander and Ebb added two new song for the film production, Mein Herr and Money Money, they became became two of the work’s most recognisable songs, they also added the song Maybe This Time which they has written previously as a stand alone song.

The film was a critical and box office success but author Christopher Isherwood, who the based the character of Brian on his own experiences, was disappointed that the film portrayed homosexuality in a negative light. The film was also criticised for glossing over the harsh realities of Germany in the early 1930s.

The film won 10 Academy Awards in including Best Director for Fosse, Best Actress for Minelli, and Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey.

Cabaret has become Minelli’s signature work, shortly after the release of the film she collaborated again with Fosse on her 1973 TV special Liza With a Z, and her subsequent career has largely been built around the songs and style she embraced in this period.

If you’d like to explore Cabaret and the world around it, check out Christopher Isherwood’s original book, watch the 2011 film Christopher and His Kind starring Matt Smith, take a listen to Liza With a Z and explore the life of Bob Fosse and the making of the film via the 2019 TV series Fosse / Verdon. 

OIP Staff, This post was written in 2021. 

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