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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 »
For years, I searched for this film on TV, plus the old Magnetic video copy released during the late 1970's. However, other than the occasional pay channel, it was never on. Local channels would play all of the other Rodgers and Hammerstein films, but this one was not one of them for some reason. I had heard the score before. It was perhaps Rodgers and Hammerstein's most RECORDED score. There were two major Broadway cast albums, both starring John Raitt, as well as a variety of studio-recorded albums. It was even done for TV in the 1960's with Robert Goulet, a version I hope eventually will be released. The score is one of the most beautiful to listen to, and the lyrics are inspiring. The movie leads, Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, are perfectly cast, and their singing voices beautifully fill the roles. They are even better in this than they were in "Oklahoma!". As Julie's best friend, Carrie, Barbara Ruick is a perfect contrast to Jones' innocent Julie. She is unintentionally flirtatious, yet not "easy" like Gloria Grahame's Ado Annie in "Oklahoma!". Those two roles are very similar in the sense that they are both the second leads with a comic twist, but I found Ruick's Carrie more developed character wise. As her leading man, Robert Rouseville's Mr. Snow can seem a bit stuffy, but his character is a product of his times: quietly macho, not in the romantic sense, but that a girl like Carrie simply wanting a home and family would be perfect for him. Cameron Mitchell's Jigger Crane, the "Jud Fry" of the story, comes on as a some-what light-hearted villain; it is his actions which will ultimately affect the destinies of our lovers Julie and Billy. As the pricklish Mrs. Mullins, owner of the carousel, delightful Audrey Christie was perfectly shrewish. Finally, as the sweet and wise Aunt Nettie, Claramae Turner was wonderful as the musical's voice of reason, a role often scene in Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Her rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" is unforgettable.
It is totally believable that Julie and Billy would fall for each other. They are both attractive young adults. Yes, he did beat her, and she stayed with him in spite of this. This was the 1870's, and women did stay with the men they loved in spite of things like this. One of the reasons things like this are important to be seen today is to show how far women have come. In the man-dominated New England of that time, women were secondary citizens, so it is realistic to portray Julie in this light. Sad yes, but a part of history.
The New England sets are breath-taking, particularly during the "June is Bustin' Out All Over" number, and in the climactic clambake. They are beautifully photographed, making the film mesmerizing to look at. Between the sumptuous singing of MacRae and Jones and the wonderful cinemascope technicolor, the film is simply outstanding. I find it hard to find any faults with this film, and could simply watch it over and over.
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