Monday, September 20, 2010
The Godfather won Best Picture the year of the first Academy Award presentation I can remember. The biggest news from that night was Marlon Brando’s Best Actor trophy being accepted (or rejected) by an imitation Native American going by the name of Satcheen Littlefeather. A picture on the news the next day had a picture of Brando as a cowboy with superimposed arrows sticking through his head which led me to believe this R-Rated movie I was too young to see was actually a Western. When I was finally old enough to see it, The Godfather became one of my favorite movies.
Despite all the accolades heaped upon it, The Godfather won only three awards that night. This total looked pretty meager compared to the total of 8 won by the Bob Fosse musical Cabaret.
Of all the famous American movies I’ve put off seeing through the years, Cabaret might be the champ as far as my procrastination is concerned. Let me check my watch and see how long I’ve put this one off. Hmmm. Holy Shit, Batman! That be 38 years! How time does fly.
It’s not that I’m not a Bob Fosse fan. Fosse, who beat out Francis Ford Coppola for the director Oscar that year, has made some of my favorite movies over the ten year period after Cabaret. Lenny, All That Jazz and Star 80 if you’re keeping score. But I’ve just never been in the mood to watch Cabaret.
I’ve also not seen many Liza Minnelli movies. Let’s see, there’s Arthur and…did I mention Arthur? In the name of research and making up for past omissions, I also watched Liza’s film debut, The Sterile Cuckoo (where she exhibits some of the charisma she is noted for). I also tried to watch New York, New York, but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe another time, Mr. Scorsese.
Well, I thought Cabaret was a pretty good musical after all. Musical in the sense the characters perform there music on stage. Considering the movie is set in 1932 Berlin, I'm grateful there are no singing and dancing Nazis. However, the Nazi element does give the film an undercurrent political flavor. As Sally Bowles, Minnelli does have the role that seems to have defined her career. Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies character is fascinating in that he only seems to exist in the context of the movie as a stage persona. What he does offstage is none of our business. Michael York’s sexually ambiguous English teacher is another character of complexity.
My favorite song in the movie is the inspirational Tomorrow Belongs to Me performed by members of the Aryan youth. Too bad it’s a song about how great it is to be a young, virile Nazi! Change the lyrics and you’ve got one helluva inspirational song.
Liked it. Glad I saw it. All That Jazz is still my favorite Fosse film. Still don’t know how you could have not given Coppola the Oscar for The Godfather. And I appreciate Liza a bit more, not that there’s anything wrong with that.