Fictionalized account of novelist Christopher Isherwood's time living in 1930s Berlin as a language tutor, especially concentrating on his sprightly nightclub singer friend Sally Bowles.
This is a film based on a stage play famously dismissed by critic Walter Kerr with the single sentence review "Me no Leica." The same could quite easily apply to the film. The leads are badly miscast: Harvey is out of his element, reciting his lines with a dry lack of feeling, which I guess is meant to imply sardonic disdain, but instead comes across as apathy. Harris is awful, belting out her lines like a third-rate music hall actor projecting to the back rows, unbalancing and overpowering every scene she is in (i.e. the whole film). And her attempt at a British accent is 'rather' appaling. Only Diffring makes much of an impression, but then his is the only character that's not a poorly sketched caricature. Given that no less than John Collier wrote the screenplay, one can only imagine this was was a troubled production; certainly it was a troubled release, as self-apointed censorship groups gathered to ban the film on moral grounds. Those grounds are barely discernible today, but the furor did doom the film to failure.
The movie takes a turn into horror about the hour mark, when Isherwood's
'friends' submit him to a series of medical quacks (including a very young Patrick McGoohan as a Swedish hydrotherapist!) when he becomes ill with rheumatic fever. I imagine it was intended to be blackly comedic, but it's instead squirmingly unpleasant. Probably the earliest cinematic joke about a rectal thermometer is the most noteworthy thing about this sequence, and perhaps the entire film. One would be much, much wiser watching Cabaret, the film based on the musical that is based on the original play.
Note: The uncredited cast for this film on IMDb for some reason duplicates entries from The Hustler. Ben Casey does not make an appearance, but a minor actor named Vincent (not Vince) Edward does. The IMDb also seems confused on that latter point. [This was all fixed by summer 2016, and now their credits bear a strange resemblance to this site's. Hmmmmm. . .