From Stage to Silver Screen: Top 15 Movie Musicals of the Last 50 Years

By Ben Rimalower
14 Sep 2013

Liza Minnelli

2. "Cabaret" (1972, directed by Bob Fosse)

Not at all a faithful adaption of the stage version, Bob Fosse threw out all Cabaret's "book songs," keeping only the performance numbers set in the Kit Kat Klub, which would almost disqualify "Cabaret" from my list, were it not for the fact that these songs are used to comment on what is going on in the plot, and in fact resonate so strongly with the characters — principally Sally Bowles, as played by Liza Minnelli — that they come across basically as book songs. It's a brilliant coup that kills two birds with one stone, successfully navigating the main obstacle facing most movie musicals, which is how to justify the characters singing. And what songs they are. Kander and Ebb hit their stride brilliantly with this score and Fosse and Minnelli's collaboration is just about as thrilling as you could hope for. Not for nothing, "Cabaret" also happens to be an enthralling, incisive, emotional film on a subject so important as Nazism and the slippery slopes from the personal to the political and back again. "Cabaret" earns a place on many lists of best films, musical or not. But lucky, for us, musical it is.


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