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.