starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Marisa Berenson, Joel Grey
screenplay Jay Allen, based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood
directed by Bob Fosse
by Walter Chaw Bob Fosse's Cabaret is an astonishment. It's a milestone for musical adaptations, a scabrous mission statement early on for the best period in American film (in film anywhere, really), and, taken with her turn in The Sterile Cuckoo (and arguably as Lucille 2 on "Arrested Development"), everything you need to know about Liza Minnelli as a very down, very particular American icon. Daughter of one Judy Garland, whose 1969 death from an abuse of drugs and alcohol was no longer considered spectacular in the shadow of poor, martyred Marilyn Monroe, she represents the broken legacy of Old Hollywood. Ray Bolger said at Garland's funeral that she had just worn out. Poignant. Poignant especially because it happens the same year her daughter has a breakdown from a broken heart in The Sterile Cuckoo, and just three years before Minnelli's Sally Bowles composes herself a split second before the curtains part and she, snap, justlikethat, puts on a happy face for a Weimar audience fiddling as the Republic burns. As endings go, it's as horrifying as the editing error at the close of John Frankenheimer's 1966 Seconds--the film that, for my money, is the real beginning of the New American Cinema, appearing less than a year before the "official" starting gun of Bonnie & Clyde. Cabaret is a quintessential '70s picture, a devastating experience and an exhilarating one, too.