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Liliom

Liliom title card

Year - 1934
Studio - Fox Europa
Stars - Charles Boyer, Madeleine Ozeray, Florelle, Pierre Alcover
Director - Fritz Lang
Writing Credits - Fritz Lang, Robert Liebmann (screenplay), Ferenc Molnar (play)
Music - Franz Waxman

Synopsis

Liliom Zadowsky (Charles Boyer) is a brash, irresponsible carnival barker whose main skill is charming the ladies who ride the carousel. There he meets lovely Julie (Madeleine Ozeray) who falls in love with him, despite his roguish ways. When the carnival owner, Mme. Muskat (Florelle) berates him, he quits the job, without any prospects for employment.

Liliom and Julie marry, but he continues to be a loafer and philanderer, and on one occasion the hot-tempered Liliom strikes Julie for no apparent reason.

Liliom poster

His only income is from con games with assistance from his partner, Alfred (Pierre Alcover). After being arrested, they appear before the bureaucratic Commissioner (Henri Richard), and Liliom demands to see the Chief of Police. Alfred philosophically observes, "People like us don't get to see the Chief."

When Julie announces that she is pregnant, Liliom develops a sense of responsibility. Mme. Musk at offers him his old job at the carnival with a raise in pay, but he proudly declines. Alfred has proposed a robbery scheme, that involves killing the paymaster. Liliom asks, "But, what will I say to God?" and Alfred replies that "People like us don't get to see God."

Alfred and Liliom attempt the robbery, but the Paymaster outwits them and summons the police. Trapped, Liliom stabs himself in the heart. His body is returned to Julie, who goes into shock.

Liliom's soul rises as two mysterious figures arrive. They are "God's policemen" and they escort Liliom high above the clouds to Purgatory. There he is processed by the Heavenly version of the "Commissioner." He sentences Liliom to burn for 16 years, after which he can return to Earth for one day to see his yet unborn child.

Sixteen years later, Liliom is escorted back to Earth, and finds his 16-year old daughter (also played by Madeleine Ozeray). Like her mother, she is sweet and innocent, and has been told only good things about her absent father. But Liliom, disgusted with her naivety, slaps her face, and is immediately dispatched back to Purgatory. He is about to be sentenced for his incorrigibility, but the proceedings are interrupted by the sound of Julie and her daughter, back on Earth, talking about their experiences of being hit. They agree that, when love is strong, no pain whatsoever is felt, leaving a ray of hope for Liliom in eternity.

Show Spoilers

Ferenc Molnar's play was also made into the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical and motion picture Carousel.