TBT: Cabaret (1972)


Life is a cabaret, old chum! This might well be the best musical for people who don’t like musicals, in that all the song-and-dance numbers are restrained within the nightclub setting so there’s none of the person-breaking-out-into-song-in-the-street that can feel artificial to those who hate musicals. (And even the one song that’s outside of the Kit Kat Klub makes sense and occurs in a natural, historically accurate way.) The film won eight Academy Awards in 1972, including Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Song Score and Adaption.

Cabaret tells a between-the-wars tale of love and lust and decadence, dreams, tragedy, life on the edge. There’s a whole lot of foreshadowing for the Nazi takeover that gives Cabaret a feeling of ‘last hurrah before we all die.’ The song lyrics definitely have that attitude, and Liza Minelli’s character of Sally Bowles personifies it.

As for the costumes, well, they read more 1920s-by-way-of-1970s than 1931 when the movie is set. But the costumes do serve to emphasize the trashy diva / naive waif sensibilities of Minelli’s Bowles, as she goes from skimpy sequined halter tops to voluminous hats and fur coats, and always with 16 tons of black eyeliner.

Cabaret 1972

One of the ‘sweet misguided naif’ looks on Sally Bowles.

Cabaret 1972

And then there’s the mega-vamp looks.

Cabaret 1972

Something in between.

Cabaret 1972

’20s-ish, ’30s-ish swimwear.

Cabaret 1972

Dreams of our strange and wonderful life together!

Cabaret 1972

Money makes the world go around!



About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

4 Responses

  1. Michael L. McQuown

    From what I’ve read, the decadence of the Weimar Republic is very modestly understated in this film. Loved Joel Grey! He must have been having a blast in that show.

    • MoHub

      I’m just grateful that the moviemakers went with Grey, who was the original emcee on Broadway and absolutely owned the role. Such casting seems to be a rarity in movie versions of stage musicals.

  2. Johnny

    What is sad is this too was the film’s costume designer Charlotte Flemming was overlooked for an Oscar nomination and The Poseidon Adventure was nominated instead!