“I Am A Camera” Blu-ray Review – Entertainment Focus
Writer Christopher Isherwood (Laurence Harvey) crosses paths with larger-than-life cabaret artist Sally Bowles (Julie Harris), and he invites her to stay with him when her fiancé flies away with his money. As Sally settles into Christopher’s bedroom and he moves into a small room, the relationship between the two turns from potentially romantic to solid friends as they navigate the ups and downs that life has in store for them. .
“I Am a Camera” is based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1945 book “The Berlin Stories” and the 1951 play (also titled “I Am a Camera”) by John Van Druten. Originally released in 1955 and starring Julie Harris reprising her role as Sally Bowles, the film was not a hit upon release, but it became notorious as the inspiration for ‘Cabaret‘, the stage play and the movie that largely overshadowed him in the 60s and 70s. Watch the movie now, as he rapidly approaches his 50s.and anniversary, it’s crazy to think that the film received an X certificate (over 16 only) for its theatrical release.
The story is basically about two people from different worlds coming together during a time of need. Christopher is infatuated with Sally’s carefree and enthusiastic attitude, while Sally appreciates the kindness and support she receives from Christopher. Their relationship is a never-ending roller coaster, evident at the very beginning of the film when Christopher unknowingly attends a party to celebrate the launch of a memoir, which turns out to have been written by Sally.
During the film, there is a real push-pull relationship that is established between Christopher and Sally. They go in and out of each other’s lives, seemingly never learning their lesson or adjusting their behavior. Sally in particular regularly flies away, looking for the next opportunity to improve her life. Her constant disappearances and reappearances upset Christopher’s life but she never really seems to care.
There is a subplot in the film centering on Fritz (Anton Diffring), a friend of Christopher’s who tries to cover up the fact that he is Jewish due to rising tensions in Germany while Hilter and his followers were in the rise. There’s not enough development but it’s an interesting addition that gives the film a larger historical context.
“I Am a Camera” features a very strong central performance from Julie Harris, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop the film from being somewhat meandering. There is no real concentration and the accumulation really leads to nothing. Instead, it’s just a story of friendship between two people and there aren’t many more nuances. Laurence Harvey is perfectly fine as Isherwood but he can’t match the energy that Harris brings.
The extras on the Blu-ray version are quite rare. Isherwood biographer Peter Parker talks about the writer and the character of Sally Bowles, and there’s an interview with journalist and film critic Anna Smith. Along with that, the disc includes a gallery of stills and a trailer.
“I’m a Camera” will always have a place in history thanks to the way it inspired “Cabaret,” but it’s a pretty mundane film. There are times when you’ll laugh and you’ll probably be drawn to Harris’ performance, but there’s not enough meat on the bones for this one to really land or be considered a true classic. Fans of “Cabaret” should check it out to see source material from the much-loved show and movie, but other than that it will have little appeal for most viewers.
Cast: Julie Harris, Laurence Harvey, Shelley Winters, Ron Randell, Anton Diffring Director: Henry Cornelius Writer: John Necklace Certificate: 12 Duration: 98 minutes Produced by: Studiocanal Release date: 23rd May 2022 Buy ‘I am a camera’ now