1956, Movie, NR, 128 mins


Haunting and poignant; the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein, sans the corn and cotton candy fluff of other works. This remake of the famous stage play and the Fritz Lang and Frank Borzage-directed adaptations of LILIOM emerges as a wonderful and touching fantasy.

It begins with MacRae as a spirit in Heaven who begs the starkeeper for a visit back to Earth to help his teenage daughter understand his death and prepare her for high-school graduation. Seen in flashback, carny barker MacRae, a brash, dishonest young man living in a New England fishing village (changed from Ferenc Molnar's original Budapest setting), falls in love with a mill worker, Jones. They marry, but MacRae's inability to find a job leads him into the bad company of Mitchell and an attempted robbery in which MacRae is accidentally killed.

This sadly resigned fantasy, a commercial failure upon its original release, features some of the greatest musical numbers ever filmed, all R&H classics: "If I Loved You," "What's the Use of Wondrin'?" and the stirring "You'll Never Walk Alone." Jones is lovely and heartfelt as the trusting lover, and MacRae is magnetic in his best musical performance, his fine tenor given a range equalled only in OKLAHOMA! Mitchell and other supporting players are excellent in this richly mounted extravaganza that is superb on all technical points and directed with verve and affection by King. leave a comment

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