Song of the Day #4,450: ‘Mein Herr’ – Liza Minnelli

Continuing my personal ranking of the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute…

#5. Cabaret – 1972
(#5 on the AFI list)

One of two movies I’ve ranked in the same position as AFI, Cabaret is the second Bob Fosse-directed film on the list, and in my view a much more successful one than his other entry, All That Jazz.

Based on the 1966 stage show by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the film follows the denizens of the Kit Kat Klub in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party in 1931.

Fosse stripped the show of its “plot songs” and staged all of the musical numbers in the cabaret, where Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles and Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies run the show.

Sally juggles the attention of shy British writer Billy and rich Baron Maximillian, sleeping with them both before realizing they are also sleeping with each other.

Meanwhile, the fascists slowly infiltrate the city, and go from background figures in the Kit Kat Klub to the majority of the audience. In one chilling scene, a young boy with the Hitler Youth sings ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ in a pastoral garden, and we watch as the crowd slowly swells with nationalist pride.

At the Kit Kat Klub, Grey’s Master of Ceremonies uses his musical acts to deflate and humiliate the Nazis, but you can tell it’s a losing battle.

Cabaret is the most dramatic and somber movie on this list, but one of the most life-affirming and human. Minnelli and Grey are brilliant in the roles that defined their careers.

Cabaret was nominated for ten Oscars and won eight of them. Minnelli won Best Actress, her only Oscar, and Grey won Best Supporting Actor (making him the third actor on the AFI list to win both an Oscar and a Tony for the same role). The film also won for its Sound, Score, Art Direction, Editing and Cinematography.

Fosse won Best Director. He would be nominated for the prize twice more (for Lenny and All That Jazz), giving him three nominations in a five-film career.

Despite its eight wins, Cabaret failed to take home the trophy for Best Picture, making it the winningest film to not win the big prize. Instead, that honor went to a little movie called The Godfather.

[Verse 1]
You have to understand the way I am, mein herr
A tiger is a tiger, not a lamb, mein herr
You’ll never turn the vinegar to jam, mein herr
So I do what I do when I’m through, then I’m through
And I’m through, toodle-doo!

[Chorus]
Bye, bye, mein lieber herr
Farewell, mein lieber herr
It was a fine affair, but now it’s over
And though I used to care, I need the open air
You’re better off without me, mein herr

Don’t dab your eye, mein herr
Or wonder why, mein herr
I’ve always said that I was a rover
You mustn’t knit your brow
You should have known by now
You’d every cause to doubt me, mein herr

[Verse 2]
The continent of Europe is so wide, mein herr
Not only up and down, but side to side, mein herr
I couldn’t ever cross it if I tried, mein herr
But I do what I can
Inch by inch, step by step
Mile by mile, man by man

[Chorus]
Bye, bye, mein lieber herr
Farewell, mein lieber herr
It was a fine affair, but now it’s over
And though I used to care, I need the open air
You’re better off without me, mein herr

Don’t dab your eye, mein herr
Or wonder why, mein herr
I’ve always said that I was a rover
You mustn’t knit your brow
You should have known by now
You’d every cause to doubt me, mein herr

[German Chorus]
Bye, bye, mein lieber herr
Auf wiedersehen, mein herr
Es war sehr gut, mein herr, und vorbei
Du kennst mich wohl, mein herr
Ach, lebe wohl, mein herr
Du sollst mich nie mehr sehen, mein herr

Bye, bye, mein lieber herr
(Auf wiedersehen
Es war sehr gut)
Und vorbei
Du kennst mich wohl, mein herr
(Du kennst mich wohl
Ach, lebe wohl
Du sollst mich nie mehr)
And bye, bye

[Chorus]
Bye, bye, mein lieber herr
Farewell, mein lieber herr
It was a fine affair, but now it’s over
And though I used to care, I need the open air
You’re better off without me
You’ll get on without me

(Auf wiedersehen
Es war sehr gut
Du kennst mich wohl
Ach, lebe wohl
Du sollst mich nie mehr…
Auf wiedersehen
Bye, bye, mein herr…)

Mein herr!

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,450: ‘Mein Herr’ – Liza Minnelli

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Here’s another one I clearly need to see. I’m familiar with a number of the songs and scenes, but not the whole movie.

  2. Peg says:

    Well I think The Godfather was the right pick. We saw this live in Cleveland I think. Not one of my all time favorites. I didn’t realize it won so many awards.

  3. Amy says:

    We saw the stage production a few years ago and were not fans, even though that iteration had been slightly reimagined by Sam Mendes to great acclaim. I’m wondering if we might prefer the original/film.

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