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Billy Bigelow has been dead for fifteen years, and now outside the pearly gates, he long waived his right to go back to Earth for a day. But he has heard that there is a problem with his family, namely his wife Julie Bigelow née Jordan and the child he never met, that problem with which he would now like to head back to Earth to assist in rectifying. Before he is allowed back to Earth, he has to get the OK from the gatekeeper, to who he tells his story... Immediately attracted to each other, he and Julie met when he worked as a carousel barker. Both stated to the other that they did not believe in love or marriage, but they did get married. Because the shrewish carousel owner, Mrs. Mullin, was attracted to Billy herself, and since she believed he was only of use as a barker if he was single to attract the young women to the carousel, she fired him. With no other job skills and unwilling to take just any job, Billy did not provide for Julie but rather lived off Julie's Aunt Nettie. But... Written by
A star hurtles downward and explodes in mid-air; out of this appears the credit "Twentieth-Century Fox presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Carousel'". The other credits all appear in a straightforward fashion. See more »
Beautifully filmed version of Rodgers & Hammerstein musical
Rodgers & Hammerstein's groundbreaking musical version of Molnar's "Liliom" has been given a fine rendering on film. Gordon Macrae is the carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, who falls in love with the lovely millworker, Julie Jordan, portrayed by the talented Shirley Jones. The road to happiness is paved with wife abuse, criminal acts, and tragedy, not the usual items found in musicals.
The score of "Carousel" is probably one the greatest ever composed for the musical theatre. "If I Loved You" is sung by the couple in a lovers' lane setting where their attitudes and emotions are conveyed by Rodgers' bittersweet melody and Hammerstein's wonderful lyrics. "June is Bustin' Out All Over" is danced and sung by the ensemble of youthful denizens of the Maine town where the story is set. The choreography is delightful, somewhat reminiscent of the athletic-balletic dancing in "7 Brides for 7 Brothers". Gordon Macrae's moving performance of "Soliloquy" along the rocky seashore with its crashing waves is nothing short of perfection. Frank Sinatra was originally to have the role, but to be frank, he looked a little silly in the costume worn by the character as seen in a still photograph shown in a documentary about Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The cinematography is spectacular using the Cinemascope 55 process. Of course, the film must be seen in its widescreen version available on laserdisc and soon to be released on DVD. I first saw "Carousel" at the Roxy Theatre when it opened in 1956. The huge screen seemed like a window looking out on the world of these star-crossed characters. The sound was stereophonic and still is in its video incarnations.
Supporting performances are also fine. Cameron Mitchell is Billy's bad influence. Barbara Ruick and Robert Rounsville have magnificent voices and sing the lovely "When the Children Are Asleep" against the panoramic scenery of a June sailboat ride to a clambake. At the clambake, the chorus lead by Claramae Turner sings the heart out of "A Real Nice Clambake". Turner also sings the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" at a tragic turning point in the film.
The best way to see "Carousel" is in a theatre, but see it. It is sometimes shown on American Movie Classics cable channel in its original widescreen version. Lean back and enjoy.
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