As the Nazis begin their rise to power in Germany in the late 1920s, American writer Clifford Bradshaw visits Berlin. After making a few friends and finding housing, Clifford visits the sleazy Kit Kat Club and meets an English singer, Sally Bowles. The writer and singer soon fall in love. Meanwhile, Clifford’s elderly landlord, Fraulein Schneider, gets engaged to a Jewish greengrocer, Herr Schultz – not an easy decision given the increasing influence of the Nazis. Soon, Clifford discovers that he has been inadvertently helping the Nazis by delivering packages to Paris for a German friend of his, Ernst Ludwig.
Clifford ends up deciding to return to the United States but Sally, after aborting their baby, decides to remain in Berlin.