Saturday, May 7, 2011


(1934, Fr, 118min, b/w)
d Fritz Lang p Erich Pommer sc Fritz Lang, Robert Liebmann ph Rudolph Maté, Louis Née ad René Renoux m Franz Waxman cast Charles Boyer, Madeleine Ozeray, Florelle, Alcover, Henri Richard, Barencey, Maximilienne, Raoul Marco, Antonin Artaud

Liliom is a carnival barker, charming on the merry-go-round, a lazy sponging hooligan otherwise. His redeeming feature is that he is a brutish young Charles Boyer, dancing on the balls of his feet, alternately glowering or child-like. Lang stopped in Paris long enough to direct the first Fox-Europa production for Pommer and it’s the lightest thing he did (and one of his favourites), with splendid carnival scenes and the feel of romantic comedy, but telling a cruel story of implacable Langian fate. Sadly, it takes far too long to get to the payoff (it’s from the same play as Carousel), wherein Boyer ascends to heaven with two eerie conductors (Cocteau took them for Orphée), gets a comically appropriate reception, and is shown a startling movie of his own inner thoughts. The film rests on Liliom’s appeal, but his loutish machismo (Boyer’s charisma notwithstanding) is more dated than masterful, and the sadistic conclusion espouses an attitude to domestic violence that no longer plays, even with allowances.

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