Oscar History

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"Cabaret" Old Chums!

Come taste the wine... Come hear the band... Come right this way start celebrating... ♫

Michael York, Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey & Marisa Berenson. Photo via Daily Mail

That's Michael York, Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Marisa Berenson last night at the Zeigfeld, Manhattan's best movie house for festive events like retro celebrations or new premieres. Cabaret's principle cast was gathered for the second time with TCM for this special screening since the Blu-Ray is coming on Tuesday. The restoration apparently cost Warner Bros somewhere between $1 and 2 million but it's worth it. Spend the money if you've got one of the greatest films of all time in your catalogue. The movie looks beautiful and thankfully they haven't scrubbed it so free of its natural grain that it doesn't look like itself anymore.

More about the event after the jump 

My view of Liza's entrance. People went crazy.Osborne talking to the cast on stage.

Highlights from the brief Q&A:


  • Liza's cackling whenever she amused herself or lost her train of thought. (i.e. often) It took her a long time to tell her Oscar night story which mostly involved thinking she was going to lose to Diana Ross and her father screaming so loudly in her ear when she won that she still had tinnitus.
  • Liza taking sort of credit for the gay content, claiming that when she read the script, she said "[Brian] should be gay" because it would open up the romance to more complexity.
  • Joel Grey recalling rehearsals for the "Money Money Money" number, the only new number for him since he had originated the role on stage, was really hard to learn, and he kept messing up while Liza did everything perfectly immediately. (Bob Fosse wanted him to imagine that he had an enormous penis while dancing.) He also thought he was going to lose the Oscar (to Al Pacino) and when he got home there was an enormous gift on his porch from his pre-Dallas fame neighbor Larry Hagman.

  • Marisa Berenson saying that Bob Fosse was always whispering filthy sexual things in her ear to shock her or shake her up before her scenes -- anything to make her blush and get a good performance. It was only her second film role.
  • Michael York calling his agent when he heard that Bob Fosse was on the search for 'a Michael York type' for the movie. To agent: 'Do you think I could pass for a Michael York type?' His agent's faux-dismissive response: 'Well... give it a shot.'


[Note: Technically Cabaret has six major characters so two were absent: Helmut Greim who played the memorable filthy rich playboy Maximilian died in 2004; Fritz Wepper who played the gigolo Fritz either is never invited to these things or chooses not to attend.]

Luminaries in attendance that were called out during the pre-movie welcome were: Alan Cumming, Bernadette Peters, Phyllis Newman, Arlene Dahl, and or course TCM host Robert Osborne who interviewed the cast. When Bernadette Peters walked by my row two young guys just across the aisle and back a row from me shouted "we love you". I only saw her delicious casual response from behind. She kept on walking but threw out her hand for them in a little passerby finger wave.

Also across the row from me was the hugely talented Charles Busch who I made sure to stop and talk to. I forgot to thank him for pushing me over the edge into Greer Garson fandom (I had only seen one of her movies - I know! -- before Die, Mommy, Die! opened but I knew I had to fill in that gap since she was one of his key inspirations). We only talked Cabaret. But Fosse's Oscar winning musical always gives you plenty to talk about. Busch had skipped school the day it opened and come to this very theater to see it. He thought he was maybe sitting in the exact same seat for the anniversary. 

Whether you're seeing Cabaret for the first time as a "wirgin", the twentieth, or the first on the big screen after skipping school forty years earlier, Cabaret always thrills. From that subversively cheery but sinister "Willkommen" opening to its warped mirror closing, which seems to be missing a lyric hijacked perhaps by that nightmarish final image, it's a bonafide masterpiece. A+

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Reader Comments (18)

I hate you :)

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

what the hell happened to michael york's face??

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Whaaaaat is going on with Michael York?

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Michael York who played Basil in the Austin Powers movies was a very handsome man not too long ago, I know age is a natural process, but he doesn't resemble any of his former self. Has he been ill and the medication has made him puff? That's a common occurrence.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

All right, again, not to be on kind, but to echo the attitude of the room, what happened to Michael York? Is this a poor plastic surgery situation or is it a health issue? He was on Gilmore Girls only a few years ago and looked great.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Joel Grey and Marisa Berenson look good considering the passage of time. Liza I have to assume was caught at a bad angle or in the middle of changing expression since her mouth looks odd but otherwise she looks fine. I had seen pics of Michael York recently and was shocked by his appearance, without the glasses there seems to be something wrong with his eyes they're discolored and bloodshot. His looks remind me of when Lee Remick made her final public appearance just before her death from kidney and liver cancer. She was terribly bloated and unrecognizable, there has been no announcement so I hope its not a similar situation but it does make me wonder.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I guess I'd better see it then.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

I know time can be cruel, but Michael does not resemble any version of his former self. This is apropos of nothing, but a few years after Cabaret, he made one of my favorites, Murder On the Orient Express, paired with the stunning Jacqueline Bisset. Both films were lensed by the great Geoff Unsworth, who won an Oscar for the former and a nom for the latter (losing to The Towering Inferno's Fred Koenekamp). Michael was at the peak of his stardom in MOTOE. He said in the DVD extras that he loved the experience and was ecstatic he got to keep the expensive camelhair coat he wore in the movie. LOL

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Must have been a thrill. I Hope they'll put the interview on TCM at some point. Also I think Michael York must be ill and his appearance could be the result of that and/or medication, such is life. Great that he could come to celebrate the film's 40th anniversary though.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Thank you so much for the info on Helmut & Fritz. I still get an 11 years old erotic thrill when I think of Helmut, Michael & Liza all dancing together. This movie is definitely in the Top Five ever for me. I first saw it on a portable black and white TV that I snuck into my bedroom. I think it was playing on PBS late at night. Yowsa!

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Nathan, I'm beside myself knowing you are a Greer Garson fan! She's my second fave, right behind the incomparable Jennifer Jones. I grew up loving her. She was sophisticated but not stuffy, funny but never crass, classy without being distant, and luminous but only sharing that lovely light with all who adored her. Random Harvest is in my All-Time Top Ten.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Marisa Berenson...still so great. This reminded me that I have to get her book.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Berenson and Grey have aged better than La Minelli and York ( who thanks to the movies will always be handsome and sexy) "Cabaret" is still one of the best movie musicals ever.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Michael York is currently undergoing treatment for cancer (multiple myeloma). Hope he beats it.

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Surely Brian, based on Christopher Isherwood, was always gay?

February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe U.K.

Joe -- right? But stars do like to take credit for things. Like Bette Davis and the Oscar!

February 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I echo Brooksbody sentiment. I did not know of your Greer-mania! Wow! She is also one of my favorites. The Grande Dame of MGM. She received 6 Oscar nominations in 7 years! It's a pity she was not nominated for Pride and Prejudice in 1940, since that would have made it 7 in a row. In any case, she is matched with her counterpart at WB, Bette Davis, for most successive nominations, at 5. The curious thing is that they were nominated together 4 times! In 1939, 41, 42 and 44! Add Barbara Stanwyck to the mix in 1941 and 1944 and you've got the only two years in Oscar histiry when -as far as I remember- the same 3 people competed in the same exact acting category.
Something similar happened with Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino in the early 70s. All in all, they were nominated also 4 times together, 3 of them in a row! As Best Actor in 73, 74 and 75 and then again as Best Supporting Actors in 1992.

February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

sadly you typically do not beat multiple myeloma and Mr. York looks like he's in tough shape....but it's great he came to share his experiences about an amazing / special movie. very generous of him. would love / killed to have been there. glad Minnelli & joel grey both won - well deserved. amazing it won director against "The Godfather." great year for movies - 1972.

two african american actresses who would have probably won had it been a different year. i find it interesting / frustrating that Ross, Cicely Tyson, Mary Tyler Moore (1980), Sissy Spaced (2001), Julie Christie 3 years ago, Anette Bening lost because it happened to be a very competitive year....whereas if any of those performances had been against someone like reese witherspoon / or this year's competition - they probably would have won. btw - what a fool raquel welch is - "hope they don't have a cause" - referring to marlon brando. everyone should have a cause beyond having big tits, Raquel!

February 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

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