Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a ...
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Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a young, innocent maid. The maid, Julie, loses her job after going out with Liliom; he's fired by his jealous employer for going out with Julie. The two lovers move in with Julie's aunt; unemployment emasculates him and a local weasel tempts him with crime. Julie, now wan, is true to Liliom even in his bad temper. Meanwhile, a stolid widower, a carpenter, wants to marry Julie. Is there any future on this earth for Julie and Liliom, whose love is passionate rather than ideal?Written by
Liliom Zadowski (Charles Boyer) is a charismatic ne'er-do-well working as a carousel barker at a small carnival when he seduces naïve young Julie (Madeleine Ozeray). Fired by his jealous boss (Florelle), he ends up loafing around the house and hanging out with his disreputable friends while Julie works. The seemingly one-sided relationship suffers until Julie (with great delicacy) tells him that she's pregnant. Exited by the prospect of fatherhood but desperate for money, Liliom partners with his scurrilous buddy Alfred (Pierre Alcover) to steal a payroll. The heist goes bad and Liliom ends up in heaven, where he is forced to face the truth about his behaviour towards Julie but is then given one day back on Earth to make amends. The film is a bit stagey (not surprising considering its source, a play by Ferenc Molnár) and leisurely paced (especially the first half), but the imaginative and surreal scenes in heaven are worth the wait. Apparently church dignitaries were not too pleased with the whimsical portrayal of God's dominion (complete with inept celestial bureaucrats sporting tiny wings and a big door leading to flaming purgatory). Boyer is excellent in the role (although his character is not very likable, especially by modern standards), which is good because he is the center of most scenes. Although not a success for director Fritz Lang, Liliom is an entertaining (albeit a bit talky and dated) early entry in the 'back from heaven' genre that is quite 'European' and more 'adult' than would have been allowed in post-Code Hollywood. In addition to this and other film versions, the Molnár's play is the basis of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel".
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