Liliom, Fritz Lang (1934)

This story began as a play by Ferenc Molnár and has been remade many times in many forms, most famously by Rogers and Hammerstein as Carousel. Lang’s version is pretty straightforward: Liliom is a charismatic but crude carnival barker who breaks ladies’ hearts and dreams of glory. It’s all a bit too weepy and predictable for me, but there are some nice examples of Lang’s incredible facility as a director, particularly with regard to editing; some of his cuts take your breath away. The best part of this comes at the end, when, pretty much out of nowhere, Lang decides to turn what has been a straight-ahead story of realism in the slums into a fantasia. Doesn’t that happen at the end of The Kid, too? I think I remember angels flying around in Olvera Street.

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