Everett Collection
Chris Nashawaty
February 01, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST


Current Status
In Season

We gave it an A

Back in the late ’60s, big, bloated Hollywood musicals went belly-up. The cause of death? A fatal overdose of sequins and schmaltz. The genre had a nice long run, but as the country’s mood grew darker, razzle-dazzle duds like Star! and Doctor Dolittle felt tone-deaf and square. Then along came Bob Fosse — the maestro of the modern musical — with the kinky, slinky Cabaret (1972, 2 hrs., 4 mins., PG). Now out on a newly restored 40th-anniversary Blu-ray, Fosse’s Weimar-era masterpiece still feels fresh because it had the nerve to embrace taboo themes (homosexuality, promiscuity, abortion) instead of providing a refuge from them, as the G-rated musicals of the Eisenhower years did. John Kander and Fred Ebb’s subversive songwriting and Fosse’s sexy stockings-and-garters choreography have something to do with it. But the main reason Cabaret hits all the right notes four decades later is Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles, a dizzy Jazz Age pixie in 1931 Berlin who prowls the stage of the Kit Kat Club while the rising specter of Nazism looms like a cloud in the background. Just 25 at the time it was released, Minnelli deservedly won an Oscar (as did Joel Grey as the club’s ghoulish emcee), and her powerhouse, saucer-eyed renditions of ”Money, Money” and ”Maybe This Time” are the best evidence there is of the future drag-queen patron saint’s phenomenal talent. In the excellent new featurette on the disc’s EXTRAS, Minnelli, as sassy and straight-talking as ever at 66, makes the case that Cabaret was the first ”adult musical” (even though she says that she shot down Fosse’s request that she appear topless). Chicago director Rob Marshall agrees, adding that there’d be no Roxie Hart — and very few movie musicals today at all — without Fosse’s game-changing gin-and-sin sensation. A

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