Liliom, Ferenc Molnar's bittersweet fantasy play, was first filmed in Hollywood in 1930, with Charles Farrell as ne'er-do-well carnival barker Liliom and Rose Hobart as his long-suffering wife Julie. While that version is not available for public viewing, the 1935 French-language version directed by Fritz Lang and starring Charles Boyer is currently being offered by several home-video warehouses--albeit in an undubbed, unsubtitled print. Boyer plays Liliom, who runs the carousel at a Budapest amusement park. He impulsively quits his job when he falls in love with mill-worker Julie (Madeleine Ozeray). A terrible husband and provider, Liliom panics when he discovers he's about to become a father. He enters into a get-rich-quick robbery scheme with his unsavory pal Alfred (Alcover), but the plan goes awry. Rather than allow himself to be arrested, Liliom kills himself, whereupon his soul is transported via an art-deco express train to the waiting room of Heaven. A celestial judge determines that Liliom will not get his wings until he returns to earth to do one good deed. Liliom materializes before his now-teenaged daughter, and tries to give her a star that he's stolen from heaven; when she panics, he impulsively slaps her. Considering himself a failure, Liliom wearily heads for Purgatory, but a coda shows that his visit has done a world of good for both his widow and his daughter. Liliom was later musicalized by Rodgers & Hammerstein as Carousel.
by Hal Erickson synopsis