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
Ferenc Molnar's great play about a doomed carousel barker who revisits his wife & daughter after death; it's CAROUSEL without the Rodgers & Hammerstein's score..
Billy Wilder, Kurt Weill & Fritz Lang, three Berliners fleeing the Nazis, all sojourned in Paris before coming to the USA. Wilder's Parisian work was negligible, but the more established Weill & Lang each produced a masterpiece. While Weill's 7 DEADLY SINS is one of his best known classical works, Lang's adaptation of Molnar's great play is almost unknown. CAROUSEL, Rogers & Hammerstein musicalization of LILIOM, which all but buried the original, has now brought it back. (It shows up as a welcome 'extra' on the latest 2-DVD edition of CAROUSEL.) The musical stays remarkably close to LILIOM's plot, structure & characterizations, but Molnar is both rawer & more fanciful. The mix fits Lang like a monocle. As Liliom, the carousel barker (Billy Bigelow in the musical), Charles Boyer is just about perfect, bluntly cruel & irresistible, not only a precursor to the Stanley Kowalskis of the world, but like Brando with the sensual features of a Caravaggio. The rest of the cast is just as fine, but the film's success comes largely from Lang's handling of the difficult material. Rudolphe Mate's lensing looks stunning in this well preserved copy (far superior to the KINO DVD release) and the few scenes that suffer from flat poverty row French studio conditions are easily ignored. A near great film.
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