Charles Boyer, Madeleine Ozeray, Pedro Alcover, Antonin Artaud,
Lang’s wonderfully inventive Liliom, which has a musical lightness akin to René Clair’s films, fell into almost complete obscurity soon after its release. Made in France, the first stop on Lang’s self-imposed exile from Germany, this tragicomedy is based on Ferenc Molnar’s fantastical play about earth, heaven, and purgatory. Charles Boyer stars in one of his best roles, and Antonin Artaud appears as the knife grinder/guardian angel. Lang deftly satirizes French bureaucracy (on earth and at heaven’s gates) in this struggle of the individual against an unjust, omnipotent fate. Jean Cocteau credited the film as an influence on Orphée.