Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1956. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron, adapted by Benjamin Glazer, based on the stage book by Oscar Hammerstein II, from the musical play Liliom by Ferenc Molnar. Cinematography by Charles G. Clarke. Produced by Henry Ephron. Music by Alfred Newman. Production Design by Jack Martin Smith, Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Mary Wills. Film Editing by William Reynolds.
This Rodgers and Hammerstein musical features the best script of all the films made from their musicals, but Rodgers’ fantastic score (probably his most beautiful ever) was cut down so drastically from the original that musical enthusiasts will be sorely disappointed. Reteaming the successful duo of Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae (Oklahoma!), it’s an adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s dramatic play Liliom with the location moved from eastern Europe to the shores of Maine. Jones plays a young woman who works in a textile factory until she falls in love with a carnival barker (MacRae) and gives up everything to be with him despite his being a rough brute to her. The story courts the theme of wife abuse in ways that seem mawkish (Love Him Anyway Cause Deep Down Inside He’s Kind), the goal likely to bring the issue to light and the result somewhat dated by today’s standards (and not exactly modern back then either). The photography is gorgeous, the “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” number a great showcase of song and dance, and the “If I Loved You” sequence one of the most beautiful duets in movie history.