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Carousel (1956) - Plot Summary Poster

(1956)

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Summaries

  • 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 Billy figured he could be the breadwinner through his association with a criminal lowlife named Jigger Craigin, which led to his death. In going back to Earth, Billy not only hopes to help his child, but "tell" Julie of his true feeling for her.

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  • Billy Bigelow asks for permission to be sent down "from above" for one day to try and make amends for mistakes he made in life. Billy worked at the carnival as a carousel barker, which is where he met Julie. The carousel owner, Mrs. Mullin, fired him because of jealousy, and he and Julie got married. Billy got into bad habits when he couldn't find a job and they were forced to live with Julie's cousin Nettie after Julie was fired from her factory job for staying out late with Billy. When Julie told him she was pregnant, he felt compelled to somehow find a way to support his family, but the only option seemed to be falling back into crime with his old pal Jigger.

  • Fifteen years after his death, a carousel barker is granted permission to return to Earth for one day to make amends to his widow and their daughter.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Like its immediate predecessor, "Oklahoma!", this 1956 screen musical boasted then state-of-the-art widescreen cinematography, stereophonic sound, a starring romantic duo with onscreen chemistry, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein imprimatur. Adding to its promise was a source (the venerable Ferenc Molnar play "Liliom") that had already been filmed three times. Yet unlike the original Broadway production, and despite evident craft, Carousel proved a box-office disappointment. Why? Hindsight argues that 1950s moviegoers may have been unprepared for its tragic narrative, the sometimes unsympathetic protagonist, and a spiritual subtext addressing life after death.

    Whatever the obstacle, "Carousel" may well be a revelation to first-time viewers. The score is among the composers' most affecting, from the glorious instrumental "Carousel Waltz" to a succession of exquisite love songs ("If I Loved You"), a heart-rending secular hymn ("You'll Never Walk Alone"), and the expectant father's poignant reverie, "Soliloquy".

    Top-lined stars Shirley Jones (as factory worker Julie Jordan) and Gordon MacRae (as Billy Bigelow, the carnival barker who woos and weds her) achieve greater dramatic urgency here than in the more financially successful "Oklahoma!", with MacRae in particular attaining a personal best as the conflicted Billy, whose anxiety and wounded pride after losing his job are crucial to the plot. It's Billy's impatience to support his new family that drives him to an ill-fated decision that transforms the fable into a ghost story.

    Adding to the lustre are the coastal Maine locations where 20th Century Fox filmed principal photography. Newly remastered by THX, Carousel looks and sounds better than ever.

    (Comments by TorrentBox.com)

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