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Film / Lili

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Lili is a 1953 film directed by Charles Walters, starring Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer.

Lili Daurier (Caron) is a naive 16-year-old girl who has come to a small French town to live with a baker, her father's old friend, after her father's death. Unfortunately, she discovers on arrival that the baker is also dead. She then accepts an offer of work from the shopkeeper next door, but he almost immediately tries to rape her. Lili is rescued from this confrontation by Marc (Jean-Pierre Aumont), who happens to be a magician with a traveling circus.

The instantly smitten Lili follows Marc to the circus, where he has an act along with his assistant Rosalie (Zsa Zsa Gabor). Marc, who really doesn't want a teenager tagging along with him, get her a job as a waitress, which she immediately loses. However, she's consoled by Paul the puppeteer (Ferrer), or rather by Paul's puppets. Lili gets a job as part of Paul's puppet show act. Paul begins to develop feelings for Lili, but he can only express himself through his puppets.


  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Apparently the message of the first Imagine Spot when Lili is imagining dancing with Marc. Lili is wearing her waitress dress while they dance, and they dance until Rosalie shows up in her tight spangly performance dress. Marc is drawn to Rosalie, until Lili also appears in the same tight spangly performance dress. It works, as she (in the Imagine Spot) draws his attention again.
  • Beast and Beauty: Played with. Although Paul is an attractive man, he doesn't see himself as such because of his bad leg. His bitterness and self-hatred take him to be very harsh to Lili, so it really takes a loooong time for her to see the best in him (actually, their interactions remind a lot Belle and Beast's, before Beast's change of heart). To not leave doubts, Paul tells Lily he's a lot like his puppet Golo, a Gentle Giant: ugly and yearning for love.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When Marc enters the scene, he seems the ideal man; he is handsome, he saves Lili from a Dirty Old Man, he performs magic tricks and has good manners, unlike Paul. However, as the movie proceeds, it becomes clear that Marc is selfish, uncaring and a womanizer. He has no qualms into cheating on his wife (though she doesn't seem to care much) or taking advantage of Lili's feelings for him. Fortunately, the girl comes back to her senses before it's too late.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: It is a 1950 film, so it was fully acceptable a 16 years old girl wooed by two men that must be more than 30. The slap Paul gives on Lili wasn't be taken as seriously as it would be today. Fortunately, Paul immediately perceives his mistake and apologizes, but Lili doesn't forgive him because it's the cherry on the cake of his abuse. Of course she ends up realizing she loves him and returns. It's hinted that Paul never will be abusive again... probably.
  • Ear Worm: "Hi Lily, hi Lili, hi Lili, hi-lo"
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: It's eventually revealed that Paul was once a famous dancer before an injury suffered in the war ruined his career. Now he's a puppeteer, and bitter about it.
  • Good is Not Nice: Paul is the only one who cares about Lili when she finds herself homeless and unemployed, but he's very rude to her.
  • Hand Puppet: Paul's job with the carnival, along with his partner Jacquot, a hand puppet show.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" includes the lyric "A song of love is a gay song."
  • Imagine Spot
    • Earlier in the film Lili imagines an elaborate dance involving herself, Marc, and Rosalie, symbolic of their love triangle thing.
    • And right at the end as Lili is walking away from the circus, she imagines all the puppets appearing life-sized on the road with her, and all of them turning into Paul. This is what leads her to go back to the circus and jump into Paul's arms.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Lili is about to jump off the trapeze without a net when Paul dons his puppets and calls to her. Her interaction with the puppets is so charming that she's hired to be part of the act.
  • It Was with You All Along: The entrepreneurs interested in Paul and Lili say that Paul is much more talented as a puppeteer than he was as a dancer, astonishing him.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Lili likes Marc, who's apparently having sex with Rosalie. And Lili has an admirer in Paul.
  • Lovely Assistant: Rosalie. It's played up in the act, as one of the tricks is for Rosalie to lose bits of clothing before appearing in a new dress.
  • Rom Com Job: Puppeteer and magician.
  • Secret Relationship: Eventually it's revealed that Marc and Rosalie are married. Apparently Marc felt that it was good for the act to pretend to be a bachelor (it was definitely good for his sex life), but after they get a nicer job as entertainers at a hotel, Rosalie demands they tell everybody and start wearing their rings.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After buying a new dress, Lili becomes attractive in the eyes of Paul... and Marc.
  • Stage Magician: Marc's job, performing a pretty standard stage magician act. Lili finds it captivating.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Paul slaps Lili after catching her in an embrace with Marc. He's immediately regretful but she quits the circus in a rage.