Liliom (1934, Fritz Lang)

Not a musical. Why did I think it was a musical?

Katy: “Why would you watch a movie that you don’t want to see?” A good question. Here’s the answer:

My third-to-last available Lang film. Now that I forgot to tape Human Desire off cable, I’ll just write that one off. Two years ago I set out to see ALL of the Lang films… most were very good, almost all were enjoyable, some are now among my favorite films ever, but there were bound to be a couple stinkers. I didn’t even know Liliom was a stinker (now I know) but it didn’t look too great from the cover art and plot description. But Lang was on a winning streak in Germany… M (1931) being one of the best films ever, then Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) completely excellent… then the whole Hitler thing forces Lang to leave Germany, so he makes Liliom in France then ends up in the U.S. making Fury in ’36, one of his best American movies. So everything surrounding Liliom was great, but I’ve hardly heard anything about Liliom. Can’t rent it, so I bought it to find out for myself.

Unfortunately what we’ve got here is a very bad movie. Liliom is a charming carnival barker who digs a young woman named Julie. The moment he steps off the carousel he reveals himself to be kinda a jerk, but later we learn the truth: that he’s a TOTAL jerk!

jerky Liliom (left) and his thug buddy:

As the movie goes on he becomes more of a jerk. Then the movie takes a weird twist: Liliom dies in a heist and goes to heaven to be judged. They deem him a jerk and send him to purgatory for some years. He gets to come back to earth for a day, and he checks out his daughter who’s now 16 or 18 and he slaps her then gets sent back to purgatory. The judgement doesn’t look good for Liliom!

But then something even stupider happens. The daughter goes up to her mom and says “hey mom, you ever been slapped by someone but you didn’t even feel it?” The mom says “yes I have” and cries and her tears fall on her hand or the daughter’s hand and the judge SMILES ON LILIOM AND LETS HIM INTO HEAVEN, which is just an offensive ending to a dreary and pointless movie.


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