Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Am a Camera

1955 British Feature

Cast: Julie Harris, Laurence Harvey, Shelley Winters, Ron Randell, Lea Seidl, Anton Diffring and Jean Gargoet
Director: Henry Cornelius
Writer: John Collier, based on the book The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and the play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten

Aspiring English writer Christopher Isherwood develops a platonic relationship with vivacious American singer Sally Bowles while living in pre-World War II Berlin.



  • DVD: Available
  • Book: Available


  • BAFTA Film Award nomination for Best Foreign Actress (Harris).

  • The 1945 book The Berlin Stories consists of two autobiographical short novels by Christopher Isherwood: 1939's Goodbye to Berlin and 1935's Mr. Norris Changes Trains.
  • John Van Druten's play I Am a Camera premiered on Broadway in 1951. The production, also directed by Van Druten, won Tony Awards for actresses Julie Harris (her first of four career Tonys) and Marian Winters. Harris reprised her performance for the film adaptation.
  • The title is a quote taken from the first page of Goodbye to Berlin: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."
  • Due to Sally Bowles' sexual promiscuity and its abortion storyline, I Am a Camera faced an uphill battle getting certification from the British Board of Film Censors and the American Production Code Administration. The BBFC gave the film an X certificate (no one under 16 admitted), while the PCA denied it their "seal of approval". I Am a Camera was also condemned by the National Legion of Decency.
  • Although Christopher Isherwood lived more or less openly gay in Berlin, his homosexuality was concealed in the original source material; in the film it is stated only that the character Isherwood was a "confirmed bachelor".

Related Movies:
  • The Berlin Stories and the play I Am a Camera were the basis for the stage musical Cabaret and its film adaptation.
  • Christopher Isherwood is also the subject of the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story.
  • The factual events depicted in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories are dramatized in the biopic Christopher and His Kind.

OMG Movie #510

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