50th Anniversary Edition, 0th Anniversary Edition
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Gordon MacRae is Billy Bigelow, a smooth-talking carny barker who falls in love with a millworker (Shirley Jones) on the colorful coast of Maine. Filmed on location, with a beautiful seaside setting as a backdrop and a thrilling score for accompaniment, their romance unfolds. But right before the birth of his daughter, Billy is killed while committing a robbery. Now in heaven, years later, he returns to earth for one day to attend his daughter's high school graduation and teach her one very important lesson.
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 & 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 '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. --Sam Sutherland
- Isolated Score
- Sing-A-Long Subtitles
- Liliom (1934 Feature) (full screen)
- "Turns On The Carousel" featurette
- Vintage Stage Excerpt
- "You're A Queer One Julie Jordan" & "If I Loved You" Performed by Jan Clayton & John Raitt
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Galleries
- Additional Songs:
- "You're A Queer One Julie Jordan" performed by Barbara Ruick & Shirley Jones
- "Blow High, BlowLow" performed by Cameron Michael & Chorus
- Movietone News: "Carousel Opens at NY and Hollywood in Cinemascope 55"
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There is also a second disc with special features and an earlier French film based on the same story, titled Lilliom. Although one has to watch this film with French subtitles, it is quite interesting to watch. So, I think this is a great buy for musicals lovers.
The digital restoration of the 50th Anniversary Edition is simply superb! The images literally jump off of the screen. Presented in widescreen, the picture has been enhanced for large screen TVs--so goodbye to that annoying little letterbox image. I watched this movie on a 46-inch Samsung LCD high definition TV, played on a Toshiba 1080p HD DVD player--and the picture and sound are simply stunning! If you had any doubts about purchasing a copy of this in the past--this issue is definitely worth it. Also, if you are interested in the other famous Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals ('Sound of Music', etc.)--they are sold as a 50th Anniversary boxed set--I have the others as well--and all have been expertly restored. Highly recommended!