Time has not diminished the power of this 1972 film. I saw if forty-five years ago, when it was first released, and loved it. I just saw it again, and it is even more relevant today, given the state of the world, both abroad and at home. I loved it even more the second time around, as it serves as a stark reminder just how insidiously a fascist regime can insert itself into the everyday lives of people.
The film begins in 1931 Berlin. The Nazis are just starting to insinuate themselves into the politics of the Weimar Republic. The Kit Kat Club is a somewhat tawdry nightclub where people can come and be entertained and forget their troubles. It is there that Joel Grey works as an entertainer and master of ceremonies, and Lisa Minelli plays the breakout role of Sally Bowles, an American seeking stardom, looking for her big break. Michael York is an Englishman whose path crosses that of Sally Bowles, and, for a while, his life becomes interwoven with hers. Marisa Berensen is achingly lovely as the Jewish department store heiress who becomes heartbreaking aware of what may be in store for her in the future.
Unlike most musicals, the song and dance numbers are not strewn willy nilly throughout the film. They are confined to those scenes that take place in the nightclub with one exception. It is the one musical number not sung by Joel Grey or Lisa Minelli. Yet, it is probably the most powerful one in the film. Moreover, those musical scenes in the nightclub slowly change in tenor from the beginning to the end of the film, reflecting the change in the political climate in Germany as the Nazis gain ascendancy.
The acting is first rate in this fim, as is every single musical number, reflective of the outstanding direction of Bob Fosse. It is the message of this film, however, that is of the utmost importance. Take heed, America, or you may all find yourselves singing, "Tomorrow Belongs To Me".