Orphan Lili Daurier joins a carnival and falls under the spell of its star a suave magician. But it is the show's crippled embittered puppeteer who truly loves Lili a love he can express only through his puppets. "It is not often that the word 'enchanting' can accurately be applied to a musical" Clive Hirschhorn wrote in The Hollywood Musical "but it was the best way to describe Lili as well as Leslie Caron's genuinely touching performance." Nominated for six Academy Awards-« Lili offers sentiment without sugar simplicity without banality and a lyrical heart that beats to an Oscar-«-winning Bronislau Kaper score highlighted by Hi-Lili Hi-Lo and an imaginative sequence of Caron dancing with her beloved puppets come to life. Mel Ferrer Jean Pierre Aumont Zsa Zsa Gabor Amanda Blake and Kurt Kasznar also star.
I somehow picked the perfect movie to watch this morning. Lili. It's about a puppeteer at a carnival who is bitter because of the hand life has dealt him. He was a dancer but his leg was injured in the war. So he performs with several puppets who are really just an extension of himself as he stays hidden below the small stage. As himself he's constantly bitter, but as the puppets he's able to express happiness. A beautiful young naive girl played by Leslie Caron comes along and the puppeteer falls in love with her but sees that she is in love with the "ladies man" of the carnival, the magician. The girl thinks of the puppeteer as "that angry man" but performs with him as part of the act; she kind of forgets that it's the angry man down below controlling and speaking for most of the puppets. I thought it was perfect that the puppets all refer to the puppeteer as the boss. When the girl is sad they ask her why: "Oh, is it the boss making you sad again?" Referring to the puppeteer as "the boss". I just really liked that. I fall in love with the character Lili. And I relate so much to this puppeteer who is bitter because he wants something better. He wants to fall in love with this sweet girl, dance again and just be happy. You're damn right if you think I got emotional while watching it. I miss working with genuinely nice and sincere people. Last week I had a shouting match with the "new guy" at my work. This guy is an arrogant you-know-what. I'm like the puppeteer and do a few things very well that nobody else at my work can do (it's why I still have a job there). This guy is a jack of all trades who compensates by doing a little of everything. He's of the mind that "we can do without you". Funny, he's been there for months and me 8 years but he still thinks he's going to swing getting rid of me. Cuttthroats? Yep. But watching Lili was exactly what I needed to do this morning. I'm like that puppeteer. I want the girl and to be happy. I hope others find this movie so warm like I did this morning. Oh, I am looking elsewhere for work...heh heh...but still Lili has me feeling much happier that I did last week. If this film was done in widescreen (the early 1950s was when that started...to counteract Lucy and etc on the TV) let's have a good DVD treatment. In addition to being pure magic, this movie is therapy!Read more ›
"Lili" ranks with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as one of the three finest motion pictures ever filmed. Its captivating song, "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo," ranks with "Over the Rainbow," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "You'll Never Know," and "It's a Grand Night for Singing" as one of the five best original movie songs. Its climactic dream-ballet sequence, in which Lili dances with life-sized versions of four puppets, is rivaled only by the "Out of My Dreams" dream-ballet sequence of "Oklahoma." And no actress has ever been more adorable and endearing--or capable--than Leslie Caron is in this movie. Not really a musical, Lili is best described as a romantic fable or sophisticated fairy tale. It tells the story of a naive 16-year-old orphan who joins a carnival. There she brings success to a lame puppeteer (Mel Ferrer) by interacting with his four puppets. Her ingenuousness leads her to regard the puppets as real persons. Ferrer, though outwardly bitter about the war injury that ruined his career as an acclaimed dancer, shows flashes of inner kindness and humanity: he uses his puppets at one point to infuse joy into a despondent Lili, and he smiles when she isn't looking. Soon he falls in love with Lili. But she can't recognize as Ferrer's the tenderness that is revealed only in the puppets. Repelled by the overt rudeness of "the angry man," Lili becomes infatuated with the carnival's magician, a ladies' man. When she eventually learns the magician is married, Lili's eyes open. But the puppeteer's jealousy still clouds her vision. She decides to leave the carnival. Her departure precipitates the dream sequence. Here, dancing with the four puppets she has grown to love, she slowly realizes that each character represents a facet of the puppeteer's personality. Gola the giant, for example, is frightened by girls, so he tries to frighten them; but he is actually cowardly, clumsy, longing to be loved. Lili's belated recognition that Gola and the others are really Ferrer brings the story to its heartwarming conclusion. This imaginative movie is more than a classic. It is pure enchantment. Make it your top priority.Read more ›
A charming little musical that grabbed me from the beginning, Lili is not as simple as it looks or sounds. This is definitely a character-actor driven movie, with Leslie Caron carrying the weight of film with her wide-eyed charm. The movie touches on dark issues like suicide, attempted rape, homelessness, poverty, bitterness, and thwarted dreams, but in a marvel of restraint, it doesn't dwell on these things and overemphasize them. The real focus is Lili's beautiful hope and joy in living. An orphan, Lili joins up with a traveling circus. She's helplessly naive, but with the family-like troupe and the puppets in her carnival act, she blossoms into a poised, lovely creature. The puppets themselves are quite interesting and significant - see how they resemble the live characters. In the midst of all this, the only clouds in her sky are her boss (the brooding puppeteer, Berthalet, played to perfection by the sexy Mel Ferrer) and her unattainable crush (the vainglorious Marcus the Magnificent). Her coming-of-age is the main plot, made both satisfying and achingly real. Leslie Caron pulls off the role admirably. Lili is endearingly sweet, without going over the top. Caron draws you in before you even know you've been charmed off your feet. Lili loves and hates so simply until she learns better, and then you see her mature realistically. It's rings inexplicably true. The two dance sequences showcase Caron's extensive ballet skills without becoming huge productions that halt the story's progress. In fact, they actually carry the story further - something not all musical pieces accomplish if you think about it. The fantasy one is marvelous in revealing Lili's alter-ego - she's sexy and confident, and ultimately, not Lili. The last is particularly moving as both participants come together emotionally. Caron's face and feet act as much as the rest of her put together - a good thing, as her English is rather accented. Most of the movie is sort of dreamy and surreal. The brief "real-life" location scenes look real, while the rest has the-painted-backdrop feel with clearly fake sets and props. This actually doesn't detract from the movie or the story, since they are not actually terribly relevant. The characters hold center stage. A feel-good movie if you just want to be entertained, a thought-provoking movie if you want to be engaged. See also Paul Gallico's Love of Seven Dolls, the novella this movie and the musical, Carnival, were based upon. (A warning, the book explores the darker side of the story, but also worthwhile for mature readers.)Read more ›