I am a Camera
Largely forgotten adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin omits social decay
Made in 1955 this, the first major film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, is largely forgotten, eclipsed by the multi award-winning stage and film musical Cabaret, also adapted from Isherwood’s tales of 1930s Berlin. Directed by Henry Cornelius, I Am a Camera has much more in common with the director’s earlier harmless goofball comedy Genevieve than Isherwood and Bob Fosse’s paeans to divine decadence.
Julie Harris provides a lively turn as Sally Bowles, the childlike, outrageously affected nightclub singer who becomes the constant companion and muse of Laurence Harvey’s aspiring writer. Their attempts to live off their wits while dancing around the fringes of Berlin high society lead to some mildly amusing set pieces, including a frantic hotel party sequence. But there’s none of the creeping sense of social rot of Isherwood’s original, and the rise of the Nazi menace is barely a footnote to this bowdlerised version of the story.