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 & Hammerstei... more »n 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 '50s 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 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 luster are the coastal Maine locations where 20th Century Fox filmed principal photography. Newly remastered by THX, Carousel looks and sounds better than ever. --Sam Sutherland« less
Beautiful musical, but incomplete/ Problematic Liliom
Peter Prainito | Lombard, IL USA | 02/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In an age where a science fiction thriller can approach 3 hours, it's interesting that back in 1956 20th Century Fox decided that a movie running two and one half hours was long enough for a musical. So what did they do? Oh, just merely edit out two movie sequences containing the songs "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan" and "Blow High, Blow Low". Hello? And how long was the classic 1939 "Gone With the Wind"? Over three hours? What a pity, because Rodgers & Hammerstein's wonderful "Carousel" (their personal favorite musical) deserved to be seen complete, no matter how long it may have been!! The deleted scenes added to the story and the songs were great. Luckily the two deleted songs can be heard on the VERY COMPLETE movie CD soundtrack (see my review of it). Since so many DVDs these days are coming out with Director's Cut versions of more recent movies, perhaps "Carousel" may one day be re-released in it's glorious entirety, that is unless the Hollywood morons of 1956 threw away the deleted film!! For the time being, let's be thankful for the "Carousel" of which I'm writing. Highly Recommended.
UPDATE: On the recently reissued 2-CD set of "Carousel" is the 1934 french film "Liliom", in which "Carousel" is based upon. While an interesting bonus feature, it's ruined by subtitles that are flashed so quickly that they require speed reading skills. At other times there are extended moments in the film where subtitles don't even appear. A very erratic presentation, to say the least."
Well worth the wait
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 08/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This brand-new 50th Anniversary edition of CAROUSEL is definitely a must for all fans of the uplifting and inspiring Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Considered by Rodgers as the personal favourite of all his works, and based on the play "Liliom" by Ferenc Molnar; the story concerns innocent factory-girl Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) and jaded carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Gordon MacRae). Despite coming from the opposite sides of the track, the two fall in love, but their relationship is tempered by Billy's violent outbursts and inability to find an honest job. When Julie becomes pregnant, he is talked into committing a robbery, but the plan backfires when he falls on his own knife and dies while trying to escape the police. Now in Heaven, Billy is given one last chance to redeem himself and to reconcile his now-teenaged daughter. Filled with haunting songs like "If I Loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone", CAROUSEL remains a very moving film experience.
This DVD has been available for a while in the UK and Australia, and will finally get a US release this November. Extra features will include audio commentary from Shirley Jones and Nick Redman; an all-new featurette "Turns on the Carousel", vintage performances from the "General Foods" Rodgers & Hammerstein TV tribute (original Broadway leads John Raitt and Jan Clayton performing the complete Bench Scene/"If I Loved You"). Also included are several rare MovieTone news segments, and the deleted numbers "Blow High Blow Low" and "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan"."
CAROUSEL A SUPERBLY PRODUCED FILM MUSICAL!
hcampo | Culver City, Ca. | 04/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CAROUSEL represents Rodgers and Hammerstein's finest hour musically, the closest thing to Grand Opera the duo ever wrote. The 1956 film version showcases the best performance, before or since, that this magnificent score has ever received. Beautifully photographed on location in CinemaScope and Technicolor, the poignant and tragic love story of barker Billy Bigelow and factory worker Julie Jordan unfolds with compassion and conviction. Gordon McRae gives the performance of a lifetime as Billy and his stunning rendition of the seven-minute "SOLILIQUY" is one of the greatest vocal performances of the 20th Century. Shirley Jones, ravishingly young and beautiful in only her second film appearance, is equally effective as Julie, a naive inexperienced young woman who finds in tragedy an inner strength she never knew existed within her.CAROUSEL's greatest strength is, however, the great songs, which are woven seamlessly into the story. What else can you say about a score that includes such standards as "YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE' and 'IF I LOVED YOU"? In the capable hands of the legendary composer/arranger/conductor Alfred Newman, Richard Rodgers' soaring melodies are taken to heights of brilliance undreamed of in the Broadway original. This is especially evident in "Louise's Ballet." Ken Darby's excellent choral arrangements and wonderful vocals by MacRae, Jones, Claramae Turner, Barbara Ruick, Robert Rounseville and Cameron Mitchell all add up to the most perfect performance of this musical ever.See this movie with someone you love and bring extra handkerchiefs. Also prepare to be dazzled with the glorious New England scenery rendered flawlessly on this superbly produced DVD and Rodgers and Hammerstein's greatest score in genuine 6 channel discrete stereo. CAROUSEL is the kind of movie they just don't make any more. Most of today's filmmakers couldn't, even if they were courageous enough to try."
Whitewashed version of R&H's best musical
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 04/12/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel is IMO their best musical. Today it's still hard to find a musical that mixed realism with fantasy as perfectly as "Carousel." Billy and Julie are not simply a "musical" couple. Their relationship has a depth and seriousness that goes beyond one-dimensional adoration. Topics such as alcoholism, domestic violence, teenage promiscuity, they're all in Carousel. Maybe the musical subject was too much for Hollywood to handle, because this movie adaptation is very whitewashed. The storyline remains the same: Billy is an underemployed Carousel worker. He marries Julie, a factory girl, but their marriage soon falls apart due to his violence and underemployment. Billy dies, but in heaven he sees his daughter (who was born after his death) become misguided and promiscuous. Billy's spirit descends to the earth one more time to save his daughter. But the emphasis of this movie adaptation has changed. Much of the dialogue has been cut, as well as the more adult musical scenes. The awkward, lovely dialogue during "If I Loved You" is massacred, probably because it was too much in a Hollywood musical for characters to flirt so openly. The characters wear very expensive-looking clothing, again all wrong for a blue collar New England town. Gordon MacRae is Billy, and he's another major problem of the film. Originally Carousel was to have starred Frank Sinatra, but MacRae was the ultimate Billy. MacRae was good in the film "Oklahoma" as the sunny Curley, but here his good-ol'-boy chipperness is a detriment. One wonders why a Billy as pleasant as MacRae would become an unemployed wifebeater. He has a handsome baritone voice, but the overall effect is vapidity. Shirley Jones (the Laurey in the "Oklahoma") is lovely to see and hear. She has more depth and range as MacRae, but she's working alone here. Julie is not simply a good girl. In the original musical, her "bad girl" side is explored with the song "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan." In this film,this song is cut. With many of her character-building moments gone, her Julie ultimately becomes another bland musical heroine. It's a tribute to the strength of Carousel that the movie remains enjoyable and touching despite the whitewashing. Because this is R&H's loveliest score. I don't need to rename all the beautiful songs of the film, like "You'll Never Walk Alone" or "If I Loved You." But Carousel deserved a film that recognized that this was not just another sunny, smiley all-American musical. If ever there was a musical that deserves a cinema remake, Carousel is it."
A Musical But Not a Comedy!
A reviewer | Houston, Texas | 10/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Overall, an excellent movie that I would highly recommend. It really makes an emotional connection with the viewer. From the Golden Age of the Rogers & Hammerstein musicals; this one, however,is not a comedy. In fact, it is pretty much a downer-- a tragic story that stands in contrast to the sunny, optimistic tone of most musicals of the 1950's. The development of the characters is excellent. Well-produced, visually appealing, with emotionally charged music and dance sequences. I have only one complaint. Shirley Jones certainly has a great voice and lots of screen presence, but I find her unconvincing in the death scene and therafter in the story--just too sweet and smily-face for such grim, dramatic material. I did not interpret this movie as condoning wife-beating. Billy Bigelow (played superbly by Gordon MacRae) is portrayed as a human being with the full range of human feelings, good and bad, capable of both love and anger. I think the problem with some of your reviewers is that such a portrayal does not fit in with the anti-male political corecness that is prevalent on this issue today."