40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

23 of 41

Cabaret (1972)

The 1970s ushered in a whole new way to consume every genre of movie, including the musical. Director Bob Fosse had started his career as a dancer and choreography for many an A-list movie musical. (You can often notice him right away because his movements are just so… Fosse.) He made his directorial debut in 1969 with an adaptation of the Broadway musical Sweet Charity, but it was his second musical, Cabaret, where people took notice.

Cabaret takes place in 1930s Berlin, before the rise of WWII. The denizens who populate the Kit Kat Club are diverse and varied with sexual norms thrown out the window. The club’s star attraction is Fraulein Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), an American ex-pat living in Berlin in the hopes of becoming a star. She soon falls in love with mild-mannered Englishman Brian, played by Michael York, but their lives are soon complicated by pregnancy, money, and the rise of fascism.

Cabaret is a heavy movie despite the incredibly catchy songs including “Maybe This Time,” “Willkommen” and the title song. Fosse wanted to show the slow encroachment of Nazism upon the residents of Berlin, so by the time a Nazi youth starts singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” it’s frightening in its insidiousness; this happened while the audience wasn’t paying attention. The film also won its leading lady an Academy Award, a feat that sadly Minnelli’s mother, Judy Garland, was never able to achieve. I’d like to think Liza won it for both of them.

Where to Watch It: Stream it now on FilmStruck or rent it on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Apple, or Vudu.