The Berlinale is here, so it’s a fitting time for a little film history. The 1st annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 6 to 17 June 1951 at the Titiana-Palast cinema. The opening film was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Although Rebecca wasn’t filmed at the Atelier Gardens (formerly UFA) campus, Hitchcock did strut around here when filming The Blackguard.

In fact, did you know that Bob Fosse’s cinematic icon Cabaret from 1972 was filmed on the campus here? It was shown at the Berlinale in its 2013 retrospective programming named “Berlinale Classics.” In the film, in 1931 Berlin, a young, openly promiscuous American Sally Bowles (played by Liza Minnelli) performs at the Kit Kat Klub. We won’t spoil the plot, but we can say that it was met with some controversy. Since then, it has gone on to win dozens of awards and accolades, placing it firmly in film history.

Since the film was shot at the BUFA studios in Germany—well out of Hollywood’s reach—this limited their say. Allegedly, one day, the studios cabled Fosse to say he was spending too much money on smoke for the nightclub scenes. Fosse read the telegram out to the assembled cast. Then he ripped it up and threw it over his shoulder. That was the end of Hollywood’s involvement.

“Divine decadence” is the phrase the flirtatious Sally Bowles tosses out to describe her emerald green nail polish when she first meets her future lover, Brian Roberts (Michael York). But Sally may well have been describing “Cabaret,” the 1972 musical that infused a genre that up to then was synonymous with family entertainment with a much needed dose of “divine decadence,” wrote Hollywood Reporter critic Garry Giddins described “Cabaret” as “a musical for people who don’t particularly care for musicals.”

 

 

"Cabaret is the best movie I think I have ever seen."

-
Stanley Kubrick

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