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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lili (1953)

A young country orphan (Leslie Caron) arrives in a small village looking for work. She develops a crush on a magician (Jean Pierre Aumont) in a traveling carnival and eventually becomes part of the circus assisting a puppeteer (Mel Ferrer). This saccharine piece of flimsy whimsy is more appealing than it has any right to be, most of it due to Caron's gamin charms. I suppose one could call it a semi-musical. There's only one song, Hi Lili Hi Lo which was a hit, and two dance numbers. Based on a short story by Paul Gallico (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) that's somewhat darker than the film, it's the kind of family film that appeals to both children and adults but for different reasons. The material was recycled again as a Broadway music called CARNIVAL which is actually superior to the film. Despite being a hit, the song Hi Lili Hi Lo was ineligible for a best song Oscar (its lyrics had previously been published) so the Academy gave the best score award to Bronislau Kaper's slight score which weaves the song in its underscore. Directed and choreographed by Charles Walters. With Zsa Zsa Gabor (who even gets to dance), Kurt Kasznar and Amanda Blake.

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