From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Ferenc Molnár (originally Ferenc Neumann 12 January 1878 in Budapest — 1 April 1952 in New York City) was a Hungarian dramatist and novelist. Molnar's play The Play at the Castle has twice been adapted into English by writers of note: by P. G. Wodehouse as The Play's the Thing and by Tom Stoppard as Rough Crossing.
As a novelist, Molnár is remembered principally for The Paul Street Boys which tells 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. She married Prince Rainier that same year.
Two of Molnar's other plays have been made into movie musicals: The Good Fairy, (adapted by Preston Sturges) was filmed in 1935 with Margaret Sullavan, and subsequently turned into the 1947 Deanna Durbin vehicle, I'll Be Yours. (It also served as the basis for the 1951 Broadway musical Make a Wish.) The film version of the operetta The Chocolate Soldier used the plot of Molnar's The Guardsman rather than the plot of its original stage version. (The stage version of "The Chocolate Soldier" was an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's antiwar satire, Arms and the Man, and Shaw had disapproved strongly that the operetta had stripped the play of its message.)