Monday, December 22, 2008

Liliom (1934) Fim Review - Fritz Lang Charles Boyer

Plot Summary - French film, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Charles Boyer as Liliom, a carnival barker who runs the carousel - he's cocky, he sings, he's a confident ladies man, he's got the "gift of gab", and he always wears the same dirty-looking, tight striped t-shirt. One day on a rollicking, song-filled carousel ride full of happy patrons, Liliom flirts with a young blonde house maid named Julie, sparking jealousy in the heart of the female carnival boss. She accuses Julie of "solicitation", Liliom comes to her defense and is fired. He doesn't seem to mind much as he attempts to seduce innocent Julie on a park bench, she's in love and the next thing you know they are married, he doesn't work, she does, they're fighting, and he's slapping her around. Thought by some to be a "brute, a hooligan, a lazy bum", Liliom plays cards and runs con games with a low-life pal. Meanwhile, a middle-class carpenter wants to marry Julie - but she loves Liliom, beatings and all. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD: Liliom is considering an offer to leave Julie and go back to the carousel, his only real success, but Julie reveals she is going to have a baby. Liliom, amazingly, is over the moon about the coming new arrival - so to get some big money to help support his growing family, he agrees to his pal's scheme to steal a payroll and knife the carrier to death in the bargain, a task assigned to Liliom. Liliom is reluctant to kill as he's worried about what will happen when he gets to the "other world". When the robbery doesn't go as planned, Liliom sees that other world sooner than expected. God's policemen escort him up through the clouds, straight through the stars, and into God's police station - a place in-between heaven and hell where Liliom must defend himself and await justice.

Review - This is a very entertaining film, it went by real fast. The scene in the afterworld is really interesting and quite surreal, I love stuff like that in films - an amusing comparison is shown between an earlier scene in the film where Liliom is at police headquarters and his experience at the police station in the other world. Charles Boyer seems to be made for playing someone so cocky, the actress who plays Julie, Madeleine Ozeray, is appropriately big-eyed and innocent - I do have to wonder though how her character puts up with a guy beating her around like that, the last scene in the film is also questionable. This film is a rare treat, it was later remade into the musical "Carousel". I saw this on a Kino DVD and the print looked reasonably good, the English subtitles very easy to read. Real good. Rating - 9 to 10/10 stars

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