Monday, April 19, 2010


…Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll never walk alone.

Ferenc Molnár (12 January 1878, in Budapest — 1 April 1952, in New York City) was a Hungarian dramatist and novelist. His Americanized name was Franz Molnar. He emigrated to the United States to escape the Nazi persecution of Hungarian Jews during World War II. As a novelist, Molnár is remembered principally for The Paul Street Boys, the story of two rival gangs of youths in Budapest. The novel is a classic of youth literature, beloved in Hungary and abroad for its treatment of the themes of solidarity and self-sacrifice. It was ranked second in a poll of favorite books as part of the Hungarian version of Big Read in 2005 and has also been made into a film on several occasions. The most notable production was a Hungarian-U.S. collaboration released in 1969.

Molnár's most popular plays are Liliom (1909, tr. 1921), later adapted into the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical play Carousel (1945); The Guardsman (1910, tr. 1924), which served as the basis of the film of the same name (1931); and The Swan (1920, tr. 1922). The 1956 film version of The Swan (which had been filmed twice before) is famous for being Grace Kelly's last movie, and for being released the same year that she herself became a princess, as the wife of Prince Rainier.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel opened on this day in 1945, for a two-year run. The Americanization of Liliom gave it a Maine setting, and a happy ending: instead of going to Hell for his errors and abuses, the carousel barker goes to Heaven, reformed and rewarded. In 1956 a film adaptation was made starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, and was directed by Henry King. Like the original stage production, the film contains what many critics consider some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most beautiful songs, as well as what may be, along with the plots of Allegro and South Pacific, the most serious storyline found in their musicals. Carousel is among my favorites along with Oklahoma and The Sound of Music. The original source, Liliom, has been made into a film a number of times, most notably in 1934 by Fritz Lang.

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