Last night, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and TCM presented an amazing 40th anniversary restoration of Cabaret at the Ziegfeld–where it originally premiered–and every gay of a certain age was there, and then some.
The film held up beautifully in all its dark commentary, brilliant staging, and socko performances. Using onstage songs to comment on the action still comes off as a deft device, and having characters walk in front of the shots all the time makes you feel like you’re really in a club, not on a movie set.
Before the film, Liza Minnelli told the MC, Robert Osborne, that when she was cast as Sally Bowles, the producer asked her what she thought of the script.
She told the guy that she felt the Michael York character “should be gay”–or technically, bi–“so that opens up all sorts of emotions that couldn’t have been there in the play. We were taking chances all over the place”
The producer agreed. Bob Fosse agreed. And so the character liked boys.
Fosse, by the way, kept the set sexy and dangerous so everyone would have the proper suggestive spirit.
Liza said that for the “Money, Money” song, he’d tell Joel Grey, “I want you to imagine through this that, like the Africans in certain places, you have a huge horn on your penis!”
“He called me Mr. Porno,” interjected Grey.
And costar Marisa Berenson admiringly remembered that Fosse “would whisper erotic things in my ear before my lines so I’d blush and feel strange, which I did. It was all for the sake of getting a better performance.”
By the way, hundreds of people were turned away from this event, but an official told us they were given DVDs as consolation prizes. Some people in the audience crazily moaned, perhaps feeling they would rather have been sent home with a free DVD. But a friend of mine was one of those rejected and told me the movie he got was Annie Get Your Gun!
Oh, well. Surprises make the world go ’round…