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Gordon MacRae , Shirley Jones , Henry King    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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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. Newly remastered by THX, Carousel looks and sounds better than ever, but VHS tape buyers take heed: as a movie conceived for the then-new widescreen platform (it was the first to be shot in the studio's second-generation CinemaScope 55 format), this is one film that doesn't benefit from pan-and-scan editing, which lops off half the screen's image, virtually eliminating the sweep and spectacle of big production numbers. The widescreen version is vastly superior. --Sam Sutherland

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money Jan. 10 2010
By Shahana
This 12 disc set is well worth the money if you like musicals. Besides the actually movie some have old productions of the film or stage play. Also you can listen to just the songs or have the songs play and have the words across the bottom karaoke style. Film quality on my 46 inch HD TV is much better than I expected also. Many other items also.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best movie musicals May 24 2004
I don't think I have ever seen Carousel on stage but my folks had a record of it when I was young, and I really liked it. Unfortunately, that leads to my only real complaint about the movie...
The music is splendid ("Carousel Waltz" in particular), the story compelling. There's even a bit of philosophy (the blossoms fell because it was their time). And Carousel isn't padded out with interminable dance scenes -- just one, six minutes of dancing on rooftops. The other big dance scene, Louise's Ballet, is the only dance I can think of that kept keep me not just away from the fast-forward, but glued to the screen! Susan Luckey, as Louise, is the star of the show (for her fifteen minutes).
One real problem with movie musicals is the opening up of the stage. We don't want to lose the stage, since this is, after all, a fantasy; but neither do we want just a filmed play. Some go too far into location (e.g., South Pacific) and others go nowhere at all (Oklahoma). Even Music Man is a bit too stagey. But Carousel has found just the right mix between the stage and location. The transitions from one to another are particularly well-done.
BUT... Somewhere between the play and the movie, we lost at least two songs, and whole verses of other songs! If I hadn't listened to that cast recording in my youth, I would never have known. But I did, and the missing music sorta spoils an otherwise superb movie.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Love the musical, lukewarm about the movie June 18 2003
By bookfan
Format:VHS Tape
For the record, this is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Five years ago I saw the fabulous Nicholas Hytner revival on stage, which only confirmed my feelings. It's a lovely story, with gorgeous music, and if handled correctly, the "darker" elements of the plot(sexism, Billy hitting his wife) are not trivialized or excused, but actually lend a layer of complexity to the characters and the story.
I'm not so keen on the movie, though. As much as I adore Shirley Jones in "The Music Man", she's rather shrill here and seems to talk in a falsetto voice, which is just plain weird. She sings beautifully, though. Gordon MacRae looks like he's not enjoying making the movie at all. I love the ballet scene with their daughter, but the switch between real beach shots and soundstage shots is almost funny -- yeah, we KNOW those rocks are made of foam. And Shirley Jones seems to wear different versions of the same dress throughout the whole movie. I mean, I know it's small town Maine, but come on -- there must have been more than one dress pattern in the general store.
There is a certain cheesy charm in the movie, and the ending scene does make me tear up every time, but that's more due to the glorious music than to the actual movie. It's a jewel of a musical play, and, as much as I hate movie remakes, I'd love to see a contemporary director take a crack at it. We need to have a "Carousel" that does justice to the score.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but sad! Nov. 4 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The VHS version of "Carousel" is good, but not like on a widescreen. The location of Maine is just beautiful and takes you back to that time in the 1870's. Shirley Jones captures the essence of "Julie" and she gives her depth to stand up to "Billy". She falls completely in love with him no matter what he says to her. The issue of spousal abuse is evident when it's brought up that he hit her. She defends him because he is unhappy and gives her support to that. Billy on the other hand,isn't the type to be married as he can't do what he wants. (I wonder how Frank Sinatra would have played this part) Gordon MacRae is good and paired again with Shirley to play a different pair. They do have the screen chemistry here very much. As far as the plotline for Billy goes, he changes his tune after he finds out he's to be a father and decides to provide for his family. But, when he and his ruffian friend, Jigger plan a robbery and it goes wrong, who is the one that is blamed?
Billy of course and he falls on his knife. No matter what kind of person he was, I think he has changed in all the time he was waiting to get into heaven. He almost spoils it by slapping his daughter. Louise seems to be just like he was at the age of fifteen. She is young and impressionable and thinks alot of people are conceited. Her schoolmate, the elder son of the Snow's isn't convinced of her actions. His mother, Julie's friend Carrie isn't too happy to be the mother of the many children and says so to her husband. Although, you know that she wanted to be "Mrs. Snow" as earlier in the play. But, the main focus is on Julie, Billy and their young daughter. The song "If I Loved You" seems to be the main theme of the star-crossed lovers. Does he love her? Does she love him?
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5.0 out of 5 stars It was a real nice clam bake..... Aug. 6 2002
Taking these words and the words from all the other songs and put them together, this ends up being a Rogers & Hammerstein musical and one of the best indeed.The editorial reviewier and some of the customer reviews about spouse beating and hidden messages of life-after-death is all rubbish. We have become so critical of EVERYTHING in life and instead of just enjoying the beautiful songs, the wonderful acting and the breathtaking scenery we try to pick this film apart. Do you really think that's what Rogers & Hammerstein wanted us to do? Personally, i don't think so. Just enjoy this beautiful remastered masterpiece.As far as the sound goes and i'm speaking first hand, hearing this on a THX system is the most wonderful fullness sound your ears will ever hear. My five speakers and sub-woofer were just playing their heart out during this film. The editor gives the sound 3.5. I give it 5.0. It's perfect.I'm sure the fans of this movie will know everything that i'm saying about this film is true. If you are a first timer with this movie, providing you enjoy musicals, trust me, you will display this musical with pride and wonder why you haven't seen it before.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
no comment
Published 2 months ago by Elizabeth Jenner
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Movies
I love all these musicals as do my three daughters who grew up with watching them. I especially love Julie Andrews.
Published 5 months ago by gail tesorio
2.0 out of 5 stars cd's
only half the CD's advertised. it is false advertising. you present a package, then you present a clearing house package for less, but you don't tell us it's not the same package.
Published 7 months ago by gilles mousseau
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection
Love it for the songs. Love it for the story. Love it for the acting. I just love it. Great movies in a nice collection.
Published 8 months ago by E. A. Schattschneider
5.0 out of 5 stars THE COLLECTION
I bought this item because years ago when my kids were small we would watch these progams. I think they knew all the songs.. Read more
Published 9 months ago by elaine
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny
To see the enjoyment on my wife's face watching the old films was great, they certainly don't make them like that anymore.
Published 13 months ago by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection!
This is a wonderful set of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. They are all 2 disc editions with lots of special features. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Alyssa Friesen
4.0 out of 5 stars ROGER & HAMERSTEIN
Un film d'été à regarder en soirée sur le pation ou au camping.. Les chefs-d'oeuvres des comédies musicales des années 40-50-60... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jacques Potvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Musicals
I bought the Rogers and Hammersein Collection to relive the magic and music that these timeless musicals portray. Read more
Published 17 months ago by J. F. Jordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Carousel
I am choreographing a production of Carousel and wanted to refresh my memory. Although outdated, they don't make movies like they use to.
Published 21 months ago by Nancy Blais
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