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Liliom (1930) DVD

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Liliom (1930)


Frank Borzage


Ferenc Molnár (play), S.N. Behrman (screenplay)


Charles Farrell, Rose Hobart, Estelle Taylor
This first film version of Ferenc Molnar's poignant fantasy Liliom was supposed to have reunited the director Frank Borzage and stars Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor of Fox's 1927 box-office smash Seventh Heaven. But Gaynor was enmeshed in one of her periodic contract disputes with the studio, so she was replaced by Rose Hobart. Set in the suburbs of Budapest, the film centers on the rocky romantic relationship between studdish carnival barker Liliom (Farrell) and his working-girl sweetheart Julie (Hobart). Fired by jealous carnival owner Mme. Muscat (Estelle Taylor), the swaggering Liliom is financially unprepared for Julie's pregnancy. Needing plenty of money fast, he agrees to participate in a robbery masterminded by "The Buzzard" (Lee Tracy), a two-bit thief. The hold-up goes horribly awry, whereupon Liliom, rather than face arrest, commits suicide. His soul is whisked by a modernistic celestial train to the outer gates of Heaven where he stands trial before the Court of Judgment. After ten years in Purgatory, he is given the opportunity to visit Earth for one day to make amends for past wrongs. He meets for the first time his daughter, Marie (Mildred Van Dorn), and tries to give her a stolen gift. When she backs off from him in terror, Liliom slaps the girl, just as he had her mother. A failure in death as in life, Liliom wearily returns to Purgatory, while Julie, somehow sensing what has happened, comforts her confused daughter. Liliom was faithfully remade three years later in France, with Charles Boyer as the title character and Fritz Lang in the director's chair. The property was reworked again as the 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel, itself duly filmed by 20th Century Fox in 1956.             

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