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