(1956 c 128')
Adapted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on the play Liliom by Ferenc Molnar, a carousel barker marries his sweetheart but loses his job and cannot find another. He tries to get money the wrong way and dies; but in heaven he is given a chance to come back for one day to help his daughter.
Billy Bigelow (Gordon MacRae) is polishing a star in heaven, and he is told there is trouble down on Earth. He learns he has the right to go back for one day. He can get permission from the Starkeeper.
Billy goes to the Starkeeper (Gene Lockhart) and says he heard his family is in trouble. The Starkeeper says he waived his right to go back for one day. The Starkeeper says he may make an exception. Billy does not think he deserves it. The Starkeeper asks him what he did down there. Billy says he owned a carousel, or actually that he worked for a lady who owned the carousel. He says he was the main attraction.
At the carousel Billy is the barker for Mrs. Mullin (Audrey Christie). She turns away Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) until she pays for a ticket. Billy watches her riding the carousel. Mrs. Mullin tells Julie not to come back because her barker was leaning against her during the ride. She calls Julie a slut. Billy comes and tells them to stop chattering. Mrs. Mullin tells him to throw her out if she comes back. Billy tells Julie and her friend Carrie (Barbara Ruick) to go. Julie refuses and asks Billy if he would throw her out. Billy says she can come around, and he will pay for her. Mrs. Mullin fires Billy but then tries to change her mind. Billy asks Mrs. Mullin to apologize to Julie. Billy says she gave the carousel a bad name, and Mrs. Mullin says she is through with him. Billy offers to buy Julie a beer. He asks how much money they have, and Carrie starts crying. Billy tells Julie where he will meet her.
Carrie tells Julie that she has a fellow, and she sings “Mister Snow.” Julie says she is happy for her. Julie waits under the tree. Billy arrives and tells Carrie to go home. Carrie says Julie may lose her job if she stays out too late. Carrie leaves. Billy says they are both out of jobs. Julie admits she knows who he is. He asks if she has a boyfriend and asks why she stayed. She does not want him to be alone. He says he can have lots of girls. Mr. Bascombe (John Dehner) asks Julie why she is out late. She says he is the mill owner. A policeman comes forward and warns Julie that Billy takes money from girls. Mr. Bascombe and the policeman leave. Julie asks Billy to continue his story. He asks her if she is scared of him. He asks if she wants to go into town and dance. She says she has to be careful, and she may never marry. He asks what she would do if he asked her to marry him. She says she would marry him if she loved him even if she died for it. He asks her how she would know. She says she does not know, but she sings “If I Loved You.” He says she said she did not love him. They notice there is no wind, and he sings. He asks her if she is trying to get him to marry her. He wonders what it would be like. He admits he does not love her. Then he sings “If I Loved You.” He says he is not the marrying kind. She tells him not to worry. He kisses her twice.
Julie tells Cousin Nettie (Claramae Turner) that she and Billy got married. Nettie shakes Billy’s hand and wishes them happiness.
Billy tells the Starkeeper that he had no job, and he lived off Nettie. He says he went crazy without anything to do. Then two months later people were having a good time at the clambake.
Men with clams sing “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over.” Women bring pans and sing too. Nettie pours coffee for the men and sings. The men dance with the women. Sailors arrive and take off their shirts. Julie calls for her husband on the Nancy Bee. She is told they were going to the clambake. Billy is meeting with Jigger (Cameron Mitchell). Carrie asks Julie if Billy is working yet. Nettie says Billy hit her, but Julie says he is unhappy because he is not working. Jigger tells Billy they will have an alibi. Billy asks Jigger to tell him what to do. Jigger has a knife and tells Billy to get one. Billy says he won’t do it; he does not want to kill anyone. Mr. Enoch Snow (Robert Rounseville) and Carrie tell Julie they are engaged, and Julie wishes them luck. Julie cries, and Carrie says it is because she has a big heart. Julie sees Billy and introduces him to Mr. Snow. Billy knows that he has a herring boat. Mr. Snow was going to offer him a job on another boat, but Billy says he would not work on a herring boat. Julie asks Billy to go to the clambake. Jigger encourages him, but Billy says no. Billy implies he is hungry, and Julie says she will bring him dinner. Mrs. Mullin asks where Billy is, and Julie tells her. Mrs. Mullin notes that Billy is hanging around his jailbird friend. Jigger walks off, and Mrs. Mullin tries to fix Billy’s hair. She tells him to leave Julie because he beat her. Billy says he hit her only once. Jigger takes food off the tray Julie is holding as she listens. Mrs. Mullin asks Billy to come back, and she offers him a ruby ring. Billy says he would if he could still be living with Julie. Mrs. Mullin does not like that idea. Julie tells Billy she wants to tell him something alone. Billy tells her to get out of there. Mrs. Mullin says she will come back in a minute. Julie asks him to drink his coffee, and she says she is going to have a baby. He offers to help her and opens the door for her. Mrs. Mullin offers Billy an advance, and he tells her to go home. Billy says he is going to be a father. Mrs. Mullin laughs and leaves. Billy tells Jigger too.
By the ocean Billy sings “Soliloquy” about his boy Bill and then about a girl who will need his support. Billy runs and tells Julie they are going to the clambake. He says he is willing to go with Carrie and Mr. Snow. She goes to tell them. Jigger says Billy changed his mind and hands him his coat. Billy and Julie get in the boat with Mr. Snow and Carrie and sail across the bay. Billy asks Julie if after the baby is born, they can go to San Francisco. Mr. Snow tells Carrie how it will be, and they sing “When the Children Are Asleep.”
In the evening Nettie announces that the butter has melted, and people get lobsters. They sing “This Was a Real Nice Clambake.” Jigger, Carrie, Nettie, and Mr. Snow sing. Nettie tells Mr. Snow to hide the treasure. Jigger tells Billy to take a knife. Jigger tells Carrie he is there to protect her. He says he can teach her how to protect herself from a man. He grabs her waist and tells her to put her hands on his neck and then put her arms around him. She asks him to show her another one. He picks her up and puts her on his shoulders. He says he is crazy for her. Mr. Snow shows up, and Carrie says she was learning. Mr. Snow calls Jigger scum. Mr. Snow says he would not marry a loose woman, and he walks off. Jigger tells Carrie she would not be happy with a man like that. Jigger sings “Stonecutters Cut It on Stone” about a man who thinks he is good. Billy tells Jigger he got a knife. Nettie starts the treasure hunt, and Billy goes with Jigger. Julie asks Billy if he should go with Jigger, but Billy says they are partners. Carries comes crying to Julie, who sings “What’s the Use of Wond’rin.” Julie sees Billy and Jigger going off in a rowboat.
On the dock Billy asks Jigger what if something happens. If they die, they will have to go up before God. Jigger says they will not go before the supreme court but will get justice. Jigger suggests they play cards for credit. He says Bascombe will have $3,000 on him, and they will split it. Billy loses four times in a row and owes Jigger $1,400. Billy asks Mr. Bascombe for the time, and Jigger pulls a knife on him. Bascombe pulls out his gun and calls for the police. He makes Jigger drop the knife, and Jigger runs off and is shot at. Mr. Bascombe tells Billy to stay and says he will be put in prison. Billy tries to run off and falls on his knife. Mr. Bascombe tells the police he had already delivered the money. People gather, and police say Billy was hurt. Julie comes forward, and Billy tells her he was trying to get ahold of a lot of money. He says he wanted to take her to San Francisco. He asks her to hold his hand tighter, and he dies. Mrs. Mullin pushes past a policeman and kneels by Billy, straightens his hair and then leaves. Julie puts his hair back and covers his chest with her shawl. She says she loves him. Nettie comes forward, and Julie cries as they embrace. Nettie tells her to keep on living. Julie and Nettie sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The Starkeeper asks Billy if he wants to go back for one day. Billy says he wants to break Jigger’s head. The Starkeeper says he is not there anymore, and he did not make it this far. Billy says he couldn’t get work, and he couldn’t bear it. The Starkeeper asks why he beat her. Billy says he hit her because when they argued, she was right. The Starkeeper says his daughter is down there and needs help. He says she is fifteen years old. She is like him, and maybe he could help her. He asks Billy if he wants to look at her. Billy decides to look at her.
Louise Bigelow (Susan Luckey) is running on the shore. A Heavenly Friend (William LeMassena) comes to take Billy down there. Billy asks the Friend if she can see him, and the Friend says only if he wants her to. Mr. Snow is being followed by nine children. The oldest girl remains behind and tells Louise that her father bought her a pretty dress. Louise says her father was a barker on the carousel, but the other girl says her father was a thief. Louise climbs over a wall to join a party and pushes the other girl down. Louise leaves and dances with three poor boys. They watch carousel dancers, and Louise dances with the leader. He leaves, and the rich kids say, “Shame on you.” Louise says she hates them all and cries. Billy asks why he looked.
Louise goes home, and Billy follows her. Mr. Snow and his children stop by for Carrie, and Julie says Louise is graduating too. The oldest boy asks to stay, and he talks with Louise. She tells him she is going to be an actress. He asks if she is going to run away and says he will marry her to stop her even though it would be beneath his station. Louise gets angry, and he criticizes her father too. She makes him run off and cries. Billy asks his Friend if he can make her see him. Billy speaks to her, and she asks how he knew her name. He says he knew her father, and what they said is not true. Louise says her mother told her he died in San Francisco and that he was handsome. She asks what else was good about him. He says he told funny jokes. He says he wants to give her a present, but she says her mother does not allow her to take presents. He says he has something wonderful, and he shows her a star. He holds her hand, and she tells him to let go. He hits her, and she runs into the house. Julie comes out, and Billy says he does not want her to see him. He says she saw him for a moment. Louise says it did not hurt, but it was though he kissed her. Julie believes her. Louise goes into the house, and Julie picks up the star. Billy calls her name and sings “If I Loved You.” Julie has a sweet smile on her face and goes into the house. Billy says she took the star. Billy tells his friend he wants to do something for Louise, and he asks to see the graduation.
At the graduation names are called, and people applaud. Dr. Seldon (Gene Lockhart) is the speaker, and Billy says he reminds him of the Starkeeper. Dr. Seldon hopes they will be worth the trouble he took treating them. He advises them not to be held back by their parents’ failures. Billy tells Louise to listen to him. Dr. Seldon tells them to keep their faith and their courage. The students and parents sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Billy tells Julie that he loves her.
This spiritual fantasy entertains with fine music and dancing while showing life from the transcendental perspective of the soul that goes on after death. The audience has a chance to see how one’s actions affect the future.