The Film That Would Beat The Godfather

As is noted in the 170 Greatest Films section of this blog, the foundation of the 170 list is AFI’s original “100 Years … 100 Movies” list from 1997. Ten years later, the esteemed organization took another look at the greatest American films with a new, fresh perspective. Citizen Kane topped the list both times, but there were some modifications in 2007. Some films fell off the list. Some were added. Among those added was this 1972 classic, which I recently watched for the first time.

Cabaret was The Godfathers primary competition at the Oscar ceremony that honored some of the greatest films of 1972. (The Godfather ranked third on the original 1997 AFI list, and jumped to the runner-up position in 2007.) Many consider Coppola’s film to be “the perfect film,” but there were some doubts it would win the top prize at the Oscars that year. Throughout the night, Cabaret beat The Godfather in several categories. In total, Cabaret won an impressive eight statues out of its 10 nominations. The Godfather, however, took home just three out of 10 nominations. (Well, technically, only two went home since Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor award.)

Though Cabaret won awards for Bob Fosse (Best Director), Liza Minnelli (Best Actress), Joel Grey (Best Supporting Actor), cinematography, music, and editing, among others, it was bested for the top prize by the classic gangster film. Despite the musical’s domination that night, it hasn’t achieved the appeal of its closest competitor. Nonetheless, the film is a classic in its own right, blending some superb writing, terrific acting, and flawless direction and music.

Cabaret is a classic American musical where the characters don’t burst out in spontaneous song and dance. The music is integrated in an authentic way that only enhances the film, rather than distract from the plot. Check out my Favorite Films section for more information about the 1972 classic.

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61 thoughts on “The Film That Would Beat The Godfather”

  1. It’s amazing how time changes the way we look at things, isn’t it? The way people respond to things when they first appear and the way they remember them can be two totally different things…

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  2. I recently went through a watching classic movies phase and I really liked Cabaret! I still haven’t seen The Godfather which is a bit pathetic seeing as my Dad owns the box set. I think I will have to add that to my to do list for my uni break!

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  3. Much of the reason why people think of musicals as people bursting into random song is because they are doing just that. Many early musicals had the songs interpolated from other sources and they crossed their fingers that they would fit. Or they were actually trying to pull away from the story. Believe it or not, “Show Boat” and “Oklahoma!” were among the first that started to bring the script, song, and dance together to tell the story in the musical play. Musical Plays often deal with social concepts relevant to the time.

    Thank you, MM. Hammerstein, Kern, and Rodgers. And Agnes de Mille.

    We still have the musical comedy as well – which is what most people think of as a musical – the entertainment/distraction/escapism. Though even today, they weave script/song/dance together quite well.

    The wonderful film of “Cabaret” falls under musical play. One that is adjusted to the medium. Most of the songs from the stage version were tossed and new ones were written for the film. Director Fosse changed the presentation of them as well – to make it more accessible to those people who “don’t normally like musicals.” The film versions of “Chicago” (which won Best Picture) and “Nine” are similar in their presentation. Both were directed by Rob Marshall. If it ain’t broke, right?

    The device for musical theatre is such: When you feel so strongly that words aren’t enough, sing. When song escapes you, dance.

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  4. I’ve not seen Cabaret so would be unfair for me to make a comparison. I think regardless of your taste in movies, if a film wins that much acclaim, it warrants a viewing out of sheer respect.

    As for the Godfather? Cinematic perfection, complex, brutal, emotional, proud, a movie well ahead of it’s time in my view.

    Congrats on being FP 🙂

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  5. I first played the Godfather game then realized I should watch the movie as well. Some say nothing can beat the actual novel not even the film itself despite that it was based on that very novel.

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  6. Great post – Cabaret was a terrific film (and of the little-known genre “the dark musical”), and I’m not wild about musicals. As you pointed out, the characters didn’t absurdly burst into song while hailing a cab or making out; the musical numbers were in context.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

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  7. Funny…I just entered into the blogging world and started a “Song of the Day” blog 3 days ago. My blog’s 1st song started with Willkommen, so I naturally gravitated towards your blog. Cabaret is an amazing film, and it’s cool to see someone recently acknowledge it, too! Looking forward to reading more from you. Hope you’ll check out my blog, as well! 🙂

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  8. I doubt Cabaret’s ability to beat Godfather though I have never seen it. From then on, Hollywood engages in gratuitous s3x and nudity in movies and quality went backwards. Hence Godfather was a good, last choice.

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  9. Cabaret is one of my favorite musical films. While I don’t adore Liza Minelli as a performer, I think her performance in that film was spot on. All the acting is excellent. But it’s the underlying book that makes the film work. Not to mention, as you said, the musical numbers don’t interrupt the action, but rather add to it. I’m quite surprised it had to be added to the top 100 list. I would have thought it would have been on the list already. Thanks for your interesting thoughts on this movie, one of my favorites.

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  10. Amazingly good site.
    One day you must make it in print form (get the facts right now) and lot will read it, especially ones who have not seen or missed the films.
    I have not seen cabaret

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  11. I can see that it would have been a hard choice! Two different genre’s so comparison is difficult. Both are Great films and Cabaret is even better on stage! I had the great pleaseure of seeing it live! Though not with Liza, so not quite as good. Is is suprising in the Oscars when two totaly different films battle it out, What are the requirements of being the best over all??? I’d like to know how they tally that! Great topic!

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  12. Certainly the best apple beat the best orange that night. So which one was the apple? Terrific post. Fruit for thought.

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  13. Cabaret is easily one of my top 20 favorite films of all time, but I don’t really consider myself a fan of musicals. Maybe this one transcends the genre because, as you said, the characters don’t just burst into song without regard for the plot. I never thought about it before. Gives me an excuse to watch it again, I think.

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  14. I’ve recently set out to watch the top 10 movies on AFI’s list as there were 6 or 7 I had never seen before. The Godfather remains my favorite movie of all time, but I’ve recently seen Casablanca and Singin in the Rain for the first time and both were excellent. Congrats on FP and keep up the good work!

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  15. Really nice post here, fantastic. I was never really a fan of old movies considering I am a teenager, however I still can appreciate them! Anyway, great post. Liked.

    Muzzy

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    1. Nice! Thanks. They’re not “old.” They’re “classic.” 🙂 Definitely give them a shot. Classic films are the best out there. The stories are generally much better than those in today’s blockbusters and are often just as relevant.

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  16. I’ve always loved this movie thanks for giving it some attention! The talent involved was amazing. Sort of hard to compare to the Godfather – apples to oranges – but equally effective.

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  17. Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome! This is one of my favourite movies! Liza was fantastic and Joel Grey hit the right note as the cabaret host… I think I’ll watch it again tonight 😉

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    1. I wouldn’t consider The Godfather a cult film. I think of that terms as being reserved more for niche films, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or anything by John Waters. I appreciate your comment! 🙂

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  18. History is full of not necessarily justified Oscars for Best Picture (True Grit?), however, The Godfather is not one of them.

    Though I find it difficult to disagree that Cabaret was the clear winner of the evening, I do not believe that Cabaret was the superior film. Don’t get me wrong- Musical Theatre is one of my greatest passions and truly an art form all its own. Cabaret exemplifies this form. However, Bob Fosse’s film interpretation, while the definitive interpretation, is not necessarily the best. Coppola’s rendition of The Godfather, on the other hand, is canonical. The Godfather is perfect in every way, and absolutely deserving of a Best Picture win.

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    1. I don’t disagree with you, though in terms of my personal preference, I like Cabaret more than The Godfather. Both are fantastic films. Incidentally, True Grit didn’t win Best Picture (either version), but I agree that plenty of past winners weren’t deserving.

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  19. Sounds interesting! I love The Godfather movies so I think I might have to try and find this Cabaret to have a look at it 🙂 Any film that can be compared to the Godfather must at least be given a chance of viewing I guess 🙂

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