It’s a simple short, really. Rabbit wants carrot. Magician won’t give rabbit carrot. Rabbit goes on strike during show. It’s pretty similar to the NBA lockout, except that David Stern isn’t likely to get clobbered by a ladder flying through his magic hat in the end. As in all cartoons, the bunny does end up getting the carrot, a slight change from the novel, where the magician killed the rabbit and put him in the stew. Other than that, it was faithful to the original, though.
Speaking of faithfulness to the original, the feature presentation was not only adapted but multiply-adapted. Cabaret the 1972 film was directed by Bob Fosse and based on the 1966 musical Cabaret which was in turn based on the 1951 play I Am a Camera by John van Druten which was itself based on the 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood, of course, heavily borrowed from the Iliad and the Odyssey because everything that has ever been written has basically been an adaptation of one or both whether the author knows it or not.
Cabaret follows several characters, but mainly Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles, a nineteen-year-old American tart making her living by dancing at the risque Kit Kat Klub in Berlin. (Nazis…KKK…get it? DO YOU GET IT, AUDIENCE?!?!) She’s got a bit of a father complex – the classic “he’s an important ambassador and comes to see me anytime he can” which really means that he’s distant and doesn’t care, hasn’t given her the time of day in three years and is still probably an important ambassador. It’s what ambassadors do. Ask Shirley Temple Black, who was NOT Liza Minelli’s mother, but maybe might as well have been.
Getting sidetracked much? Sorry.
The Kit Kat Klub is owned or operated or headlined by the creepiest Master of Ceremonies this side of the Crypt Keeper, and believe you me, he enjoys taking part in the ribaldry and dancing. He doesn’t really do much in the film except make you want a take a nice hot shower after the film to wash the perv off. But he’s there, and he’s notable, so I can’t skip him.
Someone who is notable is baby Michael York playing Brian Roberts (his character’s name is different from the name in the play for some obscure reason, but easier to remember as Brian Roberts was the Baltimore Orioles second baseman who exploded to an OPS of .903 in 2005 and steadily declined thereafter, leading to suspicions of steroid use…geez, sidetracked again!) Brian ends up rooming in the same house as Sally. Sally takes a liking to him, but realizes that he’s ambiguously gay after he refuses her advances – because who could refuse the advances of a young Liza Minnelli?
But Sally ends up winning Brian over in the end and they enter into a relationship. They have a lot of fun, they paint the town red, they scream under the cover of trains…
Brian is an academic, and Sally helps him out by trolling for customers who employ Brian to give them English lessons.
This guy, for instance, is a very nice, God-fearing Protestant who is Brian’s first pupil, and ends up becoming one of his close friends. Normally, being a nice, God-fearing Protestant means that you can put whatever you like on your willy, but in this case it really means that you can’t go after this other German pastry also studying with Brian:
(Not the dog, not Liza, the other one.) Why not? Because she’s Jewish, and in rising-to-power-Nazi Germany, there’s a bit of a “Jewish problem” as it was called. The dramatic irony in this is that Protestant-boy is really a Jew who falsified his papers. Don’t worry, he ends up with the girl in the end, though the story does not paint whether their ending might have been happy after the credit scroll.
For the record, Brian is not a big fan of the Nazis. Remarkably, it appears that nobody in the entire film is a fan of the Nazis. The Kit Kat Klub parodies them ruthlessly, and most of Brian’s students, Sally, and even Max, the playboy Baron who befriends Sally and Brian are fundamentally opposed to the tenets of National Socialism (even if it is an ethos). And that Max, now, he’s a charmer.
He plies Sally with money, which she so dearly adores, and he plies Brian with – well, jealousy mostly. Things finally come to a head when Brian, upset at Max’s intrusiveness in the relationship, finally bursts out during a fight with, “Oh, SCREW Max!” Sally, never one to be terribly shy about the situation, replies, “I am.” Brian seems shocked by this (really?) but manages to deliver the coup-de-grace: “So am I.”
But Max runs out on the two of them faster than you can say “I’m going to Argentina and never coming back”, which is kind of ironic considering where all the Nazis ended up bailing out to. (Juan Perón, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Especially after that nice musical about your wife!) Sally is left in the lurch, pregnant and uncertain who the father might be. She wants to get an abortion, but Brian thinks it would be a peachy keen idea to marry Sally and transplant her back to back to good old Cambridge Eng. where she could be a good little housewife and do a bit of cooking and a bit of cleaning and bring him his afternoon pipe and then go running for the shelter of her Mother’s Little Helper. Sally originally agrees, but then flips out over the whole potential lifestyle change, has the abortion, and escorts Brian out of town so she can keep singing at the Cabaret while the slaughter of innocent civilians commences around her. For Sally Bowles, at least, life is a Cabaret, and that’s how she likes it.