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Being born the same year as the film version of "Carousel" was released, it took me a while to get hold of it to finally see it. The first time I did, I was disappointed. This is no "Sound of Music" or "King and I" I muttered. I thought the songs were beautiful, but the film heavy handed, uneven and the story too dark, no wonder it was one of the least successful R&H film musicals! However, over subsequent viewings on better formats (Laser Disc and now DVD) I have come to realize this is quite possibly one of the greatest film Musicals ever made (!!!) and without a doubt the ultimate masterpiece in the Rogers and Hammerstein canon. The cast is flawless, the story almost unbearably tragic and at the same time uplifting and inspiring. There really are no words to describe this wonderful work of art, and like all great works of art, you not only look at it, but it looks back at you, which is why it is so relevant and so incredibly moving. Bravo to all involved!.
It's amazing how many people can dislike a movie that's rated as high
as a 7.2, but public opinion against this ingenious musical actually
runs extremely high. People hate the story, they hate having to deal
with the marital issues discussed herein, they hate the songs... they
go on and on and on and don't realize what a clever piece of work this
film really is!
I'd take this over most other Rodgers & Hammerstein movies any day (well, I think I'd watch "South Pacific" first, the 1958 version, of course) for its jaw-dropping Cinemascope 55 imagery and varied range of emotions, from shout-from-the-rooftops happy to please-kill-me-now sad. And the "Starkeeper" premise is not, per se, a very enjoyable or original one, but (I have to say it) it sure as heck beats the everybody-sing-like-you've-got-golden-lungs jubilation of "Sound of Music". It's nice to have a little melancholy in a musical! So sue me!
I know exactly why this isn't considered as great as its inferiors: people don't like dealing with it. But this is a movie that should be dealt with: a movie with heart, brains, *and* tear ducts. All you doubters out there, call me when you can come up with another movie with that trifecta down to an art form.
There are several things that make the 50th Anniversary DVD Edition of
CAROUSEL worth up grading for:
1) Finally the picture is Anamorphic processed, resulting in a more detailed image.
2) The excellent "Turns on the Carousel" featurette is very informative and interesting.
3) The delightful commentary track with star Shirley Jones and filmmaker Nick Redman is a joy to listen to.
4) The option to play the songs only or listen to the isolated musical score.
5) And most of the all the opportunity to see a very nice print of the 1934 French motion picture, "Liliom" featuring a very young Charles Boyer, directed by Fritz Lang with music by Franz Waxman (who would shortly do the score for the now classic, "Bride of Frankenstein".) It is fascinating to see the source material for "Carousel". What amazes is how much of the dialog was retained for Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical adaptation.
Sadly the much desired recent release of this film as a Blu-ray has turned out to be a major disappointment. So the above DVD is the best rendering of this wonderful musical that we are likely to have.
Being the theater freak that I am, I love to watch movies, especially the
musicals! "Carousel" is definitely one of my favorites, with Shirley
and Gordon McRae pairing up again in another love story. The story line
terrific, although I have to admit that the ending totally bugged me! I
really thought that Billy Biggelow should have let Julie see him when he
came back down to Earth. Although you could tell that Julie felt his
presence then, I still think it would have been a stronger, happier ending
if they had seen each other. Many of you probably disagree, but I really
thought they should have seen each other one last time.
The music in "Carousel" is great! From the cheerful number, "June is Bustin' Out All Over," to the movie's finale, "You'll Never Walk Alone," all of the songs featured in this movie are well performed. Shirley Jones' rendition of "What's the Use of Wonderin'" was just as well done as her performance of "Many A New Day," in "Oklahoma!" (1955) Her character, Julie Jordan, was portrayed very well by the young Shirley Jones.
Gordon McRae also portrayed his character well, the carousel-barker Billy Biggelow, whose life came to an end after falling upon his knife while attempting to rob someone with his sidekick, Jigger. He was sweet and sensitive in the appropriate parts, and rough and boisterous in others. Although he didn't admit it until his death, you could tell throughout the entire film that he really did love Julie Jordan. Their duet "If I Loved You," was similar to "People Will Say We're in Love," from "Oklahoma!", but it also had its own personality.
As for supporting actors, the actors who portrayed Cousin Nettie, Carrie Pipperidge, and Enoch Snow, did an excellent job becoming the character and bringing their roles to life. Without the help of these smaller roles, the movie wouldn't have been as well done.
This film is great for laughs, smiles, and tears, and a definite winner if you love musicals. You definitely want to see this movie soon...trust me, you'll love it too!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Of the quintessential Rodgers-Hammerstein musicals, this one comes in
just behind Oklahoma, South Pacific, and the King and I. From a jazz
musician's viewpoint, it offers fewer enticing songs than anything by
Rodgers & Hart and most of the collaborations with Hammerstein as well.
Yet in the context of the times, a song such as "You'll Never Walk
Alone" helped heal, provide consolation and hope to the ones who were
left behind after the war. "If I Loved You" is certainly a gorgeous
melody and sensitive lyric, but the highlight, at least for any
expectant father, has got to be "Soliloquy." (Listen to Sinatra's
unsurpassed, timeless reading of this one as well as "You'll Never Walk
Alone" on "The Concert Sinatra".)
Sinatra's instincts were right in backing out of this movie, which is the most wooden, flat, artificial and leaden of all the filmed adaptations of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals (it makes "Sound of Music" look like "Citizen Kane"). It's simply not good movie-making-- partly because the filmmakers got carried away with the technology, thinking that bright colors and a wider Cinemascope image, requiring two final takes of each scene (the reason Sinatra split), would be "realism" enough for the public.
That's one reason this film, contrary to another reviewer's evaluation, can't compare with Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." But he also misses the point about George Bailey. True, he's not the bum that Billy Bigelow is. But he's become so self-righteous about his "indispensability" to his community that he commits suicide all because of the loss of a mere thousand bucks. (In the movie version of "Carousel" Billy falls on his knife accidentally after the stick-up goes awry.) Billy comes back as an angel to provide comfort, hope, and encouragement, "earning his wings" by doing well by his daughter. But George Bailey has earned too many wings--in fact, his good deeds and his savior complex are his problem. The wingless angel Clarence is sent on a mission to Bedford Falls to restore to George Bailey his humanity, with all its flaws and failings. Compared to Carousel, it's a darker, more profound story about tragic pride (even archetypal, given its parallels with Sophocles' Oedipus Rex), and ultimately it's more cathartic and life affirming, since it conveys faith in a world not overrun by Mr. Potters: ordinary people do have the capacity to be unselfish and forgiving. This is not to cast aspersions on the deeply felt sentiments of the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece. It's just unfortunate that Carousel was not filmed in the 1940s by a creative, inspired giant like Frank Capra.
I am haunted by this breathtaking musical. Seeing it again in DVD
clarity in widescreen, I suggest any educated person might just
believe, like me, that CAROUSEL might actually be the perfect musical.
Ilove Singin in the Rain and other 50s hits... but this one, so grim so
tough and so sexual even between the generations, well, for a 50s
blockbuster musical, it is a mature and complex drama in imaginary deep
and saddened (wistful?) overtures and drops, it is supremely
satisfying. If you have the DVD play it on 'orchestral' only and get the full spooky and brooding melancholy of its musical score... the re run it with the songs ...and then let the robust and desirable full blown effect take hold... as it would have in cinema-scope and huge screen in 2000 seat palaces would have oiled and serviced the senses as it did in 1956. CAROUSEL is a sublimely bitter and cruel musical about desire sex refusal and rejection... and ultimately 'what could have been' and even tougher, what rejection your ripe and intelligent kid would have been pained by, when ready for teenage love.... if they had have lived, and worse still, if they had had rotten lousy you for a parent. This is THE masterpiece musical for the new century made in 1956... in the middle of the startling disillusioned 50s. (see also It's Always Fair Weather... and the Man In The Grey Flannel Suit). CAROUSEL has the most collapsingly breathtaking beautiful photography... scenes in the open on the water in Maine are just incredible to see. The 'Spring Is bustin out all over" dance sequence clearly comes from "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" and influenced "Hello Dolly"... but as a stand-alone musically robust spectacle... well, just marvel. CAROUSEL is genuinely a massive and supremely crafted musical when the genre was at its most mature and most perfectly honed and technically supreme.
This is nicely acted and beautifully sung musical drama. Shirley Jones is very believable as Julie Jordan, the lovely and ever patient mill worker, who falls for a carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, the town heartthrob. Portrayed by Gordon MacCrae. With such heart felt ballads such as "If I Loved You" and "Mr. Snow" its no wonder that it is still popular today. I also like Carousel because its the only Rodgers and Hammerstein concept that deals with darker themes. Any fan of musicals will delight in this classic. Tissues will be mandatory. My score: 8
I can't remember how old I was when I first saw this on TV, but it was
a long time ago (we had a B&W TV!)...but even though I saw it in B&W,
it had an impact that has lasted. This musical has the most gorgeous
score by the great Richard Rodgers. Also believe this music got me
hooked onto opera later in my youth and that opened an entirely other
world of music to me.
But back to Carousel, the story is beautiful and moving, sad and romantic. The stuff of great musicals. And the music is wonderfully scored by the Fox maestro of the time, Alfred Newman and the superb Fox orchestra!! I think that if Fox had made this film earlier (like in the 40's, the orchestrations might have been sparser. In 1956, with bigger production spending (to get audiences away from their TVs and back into theatres), the musicals are also beefed up orchestrally (with improved stereo recording techniques) to make the most of the score. (The soundtrack is also an enjoyable one to experience on its own.)
I loved the scenery of the Maine coast...I have even travelled to Maine and made a special stop in Boothbay Harbor--much changed since 1956 I am sure, but it felt wonderful to visit there. I only wish that the town would make more of an effort to promote the fact that Carousel's location filmwork was done there.
The cinematography is splendid and lush. I love the way the camera is used in the Carousel Waltz sequence, with the music dominating any dialogue. Modern directors wouldn't dare try that today!
I can live with the juxtapositional mixes of location photography vs. the in-studio filming. Not all the dancing could be done on a real beach. And I was very pleased that the entire Soliloquy scene was shot outdoors, very beautiful camera-work following Mr. MacRae's movements. And he sings that song like it was written for him. I agree with most other reviewers here, that Mr. Sinatra was not right for this part.
Shirley Jones is just gorgeous to look at and so believable in this role. Too bad, she only really has two songs, one being the duet with MacRae. Claramae Turner's rendition of the classic You'll Never Walk Alone always brings tears to me, even now after all these years.
Even at the end, I am teary-eyed. That tells me this movie is timeless.
I hope anyone who has never seen it, and reads the reviews here, that you will be able to find as much joy and love from this great music and story that we all have.
The dark, brooding Rodgers & Hammerstein stage musical gets the
big-budget screen treatment in this 1956 release, and the results are
only moderately successful. The actors have great voices -- and
certainly the score to "Carousel" is the lushest and densest R&H
produced -- but they're simply not good enough actors to explore the
depths of the musical's book. Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones were fine
as perky country folk in "Oklahoma!" from a year earlier, but MacRae is
not a dangerous enough presence to pull off the rough character of
Still, as mentioned, the score sounds wonderful and remains mostly intact for the film. And Agnes DeMille provides some characteristically stunning screen choreography, especially in the trademark R&H ballet sequence.
1956's CAROUSEL was definitely one of the stronger screen adaptations of a screen musical despite its troubled beginnings. Frank Sinatra had originally been cast as Billy and walked because the film was being filmed using two different films requiring everything to be done twice. Doris Day was the producers' first choice for Julie but she was having health problems at the time and was unavailable. These circumstances created the reunion of "Oklahoma" stars Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, who even though this film was made right after "Oklahoma" seem much more adult, mature, and sexy than they did in the previous film. For the uninitiated, CAROUSEL is the story of Billy Bigelow, a carnival barker who offers Julie a free ride on his carousel one night and the attraction between the two is instantaneous...almost animal...they both get fired from their jobs as a result but they don't care. I love the relationship between Billy and Julie, as opposed to Curly and Laurey, because Billy and Julie's relationship is clearly sexual, evidenced in Julie's pregnancy. There is violence and fantasy mixed with the romance here to produce one of the loveliest musicals ever filmed. MacRae and Jones shine alone and as a duo...the "If I loved You" scene is enchanting as are his "Soliloquy" and her "What's the Use of Wondrin?". Barbara Ruick is cute as Carrie, Julie's best friend, Robert Rounseville makes a robust Mr. Snow, Cameron Mitchell is amusing as Billy's shady pal Jigger and Claramae Turner's rendition of the show's most famous song "You'll Never Walk Alone" is breathtaking. Filmed on beautiful Maine locations, director Henry King has brought us a lush and lovely musical that has everything a musical should offer, even if it is a tad overlong. Still worth the trip.
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