Cast & Crew
When word comes that one of his kinfolk on earth is in trouble, Billy Bigelow, an unrepentant braggart consigned to the lower reaches of heaven, applies to the Starkeeper for permission to return to earth for one day. After reminding Billy that he had previously renounced that privilege, the Starkeeper asks Billy to justify his request. Billy then recalls his life as a cocky young carousel barker in a small New England fishing village: While working one day, the egotistical Billy flirts with Julie Jordan, an innocent young girl smitten with his swaggering manner and rugged physique. Jealous, Billy's employer, Mrs. Mullin, bans her from the carousel, and when Billy countermands her orders, she fires him. Billy brazenly invites Julie to join him for a drink, and later in the woods, as Julie and her best friend, Carrie Pipperidge, anxiously await Billy, Carrie confides that she is engaged to marry Enoch Snow, the owner of a herring boat. When Billy arrives, he dismisses Carrie, and before leaving, she cautions Julie to return home to their boardinghouse before curfew or she will be fired. Julie ignores her friend's warning, however, and soon after, Mr. Bascombe, her employer and owner of the local cotton mill, comes by and asks Julie why she is out so late. When Billy objects to his intrusion, Bascombe summons a police officer, who warns Julie that Billy is a womanizing scapegrace. Nevertheless, Julie insists on staying, and when Billy questions her rashness, she sings a song about how it would feel to fall in love. Billy and Julie marry and Julie goes to work waiting tables for her cousin Nettie. Unable to find a job, Billy is propositioned by Jigger Craigin, the local reprobate, to rob Bascombe while the rest of the town is attending a clambake on a secluded island. Meanwhile, Julie defends her husband against the gossip that he repeatedly hits her. As the town readies to set sail for the clambake, Carrie introduces Julie to Mr. Snow, her supercilious fiancé. At Carrie's behest, Snow offers Billy a job on his herring boat, but Billy insults him and refuses his offer. Mrs. Mullin then appears and promises Billy a ruby ring to leave Julie and return to the carousel. Billy is seriously considering her proposition when Julie informs him she is pregnant. After musing about the responsibilities of becoming a father, Billy throws in with Jigger. At the clambake, the lecherous Jigger comes upon Carrie alone in the woods, and tricks her into embracing him. When Snow sees them together, he denounces Jigger and indignantly breaks his engagement to Carrie. As the group splits up for the big treasure hunt, Billy and Jigger return to town to rob the unsuspecting Bascombe. While awaiting their prey's arrival, Billy worries about the knife that Jigger has forced him to carry. When Bascombe finally appears, they demand his money at knife point, but the wary Bascombe pulls out his gun and fires, sending Jigger scurrying away. Billy, fearing jail, tries to scale a pile of boxes to escape, but tumbles backward and falls on his knife. Just then the revelers return from the clambake and when Julie discovers that Billy has been injured, she rushes to comfort him. As Billy dies in Julie's arms, gently caressing her face, Julie finally declares her love for him, too late. Back in heaven, the Starkeeper chastises Billy for being afraid to love, and then informs the still unrepetentant Billy that his daughter needs him. From above, Billy watches his fifteen-year-old daughter Louise being snubbed by the other children, who charge that her father was a thief. Soon after, the Starlight Carnival arrives and Louise is comforted by the handsome male dancer. Chided by the children for her behavior, Louise runs home in tears. When one of Carrie and Enoch's sons calls her father a cheap carnival barker, Billy makes himself visible to Louise and offers her a star. Frightened, she pulls away and he slaps her. Louise runs to her mother, and although Julie is unable to see Billy, she senses his presence. When Louise tells her that the slap felt like a kiss, Julie smiles with understanding. Still invisible, Billy sings his love to Julie and she picks up the star. At Louise's graduation ceremony, the speaker admonishes the children to stand on their own two feet and not allow their parents' failures to haunt them, and his advice heartens Louise. Kneeling beside Julie, Billy finally proclaims his love, and as the group breaks into uplifting song, Billy returns to heaven, his mission accomplished.
William Le Massena
Harry "duke" Johnson
Charles G. Clarke
Agnes De Mille
Oscar Hammerstein Ii
Harry M. Leonard
Edward B. Powell
Walter M. Scott
Jack Martin Smith
Lyle R. Wheeler
Darryl F. Zanuck
That's a pretty heavy-duty emotional workout for a musical to handle. But the 1956 movie version of Carousel, directed by Henry King and adapted for the screen by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, handles the shifts in tone deftly. Shirley Jones, just coming off her starring role in another hit Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musical, Oklahoma! (1955), plays Julie; Gordon MacRae - who had also been Jones's co-star in Oklahoma! -- is Billy. Together, they navigate the material's potentially choppy waters, delicately approaching issues of irresponsibility, dishonesty and spousal abuse.
And singing all the while, too. The picture, like the stage production before it, is beloved for big, splashy ensemble numbers like "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and "A Real Nice Clambake" (with choreography by Agnes De Mille and Rod Alexander). But the tenderness and echoes of human frailty that MacRae and Jones bring to numbers like "If I Loved You" give the story its real weight and dimension. MacRae's rich, sturdy baritone, balanced by the touching optimism of Jones's springtime-in-blossom soprano, serve as an aural metaphor for the perilous journey these two lovers are about to undertake. They have a lot to lose.
Jones was a favorite of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the only performer to be under contract to the duo. She'd come to New York from her hometown in Pennsylvania in the early 1950s - she was barely 18 at the time -- hoping to make it as a Broadway performer. A pianist friend told her that Rodgers and Hammerstein were holding open auditions - she had never heard of them at the time, but she showed up anyway, and the casting director was so impressed by her that he summoned Richard Rodgers to hear her that very day. Rodgers then called Oscar Hammerstein at home. Three weeks later, as Jones said in a 2011 interview with National Public Radio, she had been cast in her first Broadway show, South Pacific, and within a year, she was starring in the film version of Oklahoma!
MacRae, on the other hand, almost didn't make it into the cast of Carousel at all. The role of Billy had originally been set to go to Frank Sinatra, who dropped out of the production suddenly. Accounts vary as to what caused Sinatra's departure: Some say he came down with laryngitis; others claim that he dropped out because he believed - mistakenly, as it turns out - that he'd have to shoot every scene twice, once for regular CinemaScope and the other for the larger-format version, CinemaScope 55. Sinatra is reported to have said, "You're not getting two Sinatras for the price of one." Regardless, MacRae slipped easily into the role.
The dark complexities of Carousel may arise, in part, from the fact that it was based on a nonmusical: Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár's 1909 work Liliom. The story originally took place in Budapest. As Oscar Hammerstein was figuring out how to adapt the play, he began to think of moving the setting elsewhere, ultimately settling on Maine. In a 1945 article in the New York Times, he wrote, "I began to see an attractive ensemble-sailors, whalers, girls who worked in the mills up the river, clambakes on near-by islands, an amusement park on the seaboard, things people could do in crowds, people who were strong and alive and lusty, people who had always been depicted on the stage as thin-lipped puritans-a libel I was anxious to refute." He went on to observe, "Julie with her courage and inner strength and outward simplicity seemed more indigenous to Maine than to Budapest."
Liliom had actually been adapted for the screen several times before: Frank Borzage made a version in 1930, and Fritz Lang directed his own interpretation of the material in France in 1934. And it's possible that even though Hammerstein decided to move the story from a somber Eastern European city to a vibrant part of America, the original setting may have something to do with the somewhat pensive aura that clings to the movie version of Carousel. As the critic Dave Kehr noted in the New York Times, writing about the film's 2006 DVD release, the big movie musicals of the 1950s were, in general, "the cinematic equivalents of tail-finned Cadillacs fitted out with all of the latest gimmicks meant to stave off competition from television." Pictures like Oklahoma! and Carousel fit that model nicely. "Here are advertisements for America that no one could resist," Kehr writes.
But he goes on to note that "only Carousel, with its underlying Hungarian melancholy and masochistic romanticism ... escapes the 'cockeyed optimism' that shaped American ideology during the first decade of the cold war." Carousel is not as joyous as its title suggests. But the pleasures it brings are subtle ones - as musicals go, it's sadder but wiser.
Producer: Henry Ephron
Director: Henry King
Screenplay: Henry Ephron and Phoebe Ephron; original musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; play by Ferenc Molnár
Cinematography: Charles G. Clarke
Music: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Editing: William Reynolds
Cast: Gordon MacRae (Billy), Shirley Jones (Julie), Cameron Mitchell (Jigger), Barbara Ruick (Carrie), Claramae Turner (Cousin Nettie), Robert Rounseville (Mr. Snow), Gene Lockhart (Starkeeper).
by Stephanie Zacharek
The New York Times
When you walk through a storm / Hold your head up high / And don't be afraid of the dark.- Nettie
Longing to tell you, but afraid and shy / I let my golden chances pass me by. / Now, I've lost you / Soon I will go in the mist of day / And you never will know / How I loved you / How I loved you.- Billy
My mother had a baby once.- Jigger Craigin
It's the custom at these graduations to pick out some old duck like me to preach to the kids. Well, I can't preach at you. I know you all too well. I've brought most of you into the world, rubbed linament onto your backs, poured castor oil down your throats. I only hope that now I've got you this far that you'll turn out to be all the trouble I took with you. I can't tell you any sure way to happiness. I only know that you've got to go out and find it for yourselves. You can't lean on the success of your parents. That's their success. And don't be held back by their failures. Billy Bigelow: (whispering into Louise's ear) Listen to him. Believe him. Dr. Selden: Makes no difference what they did or didn't do. You just stand on your own two feet. The world belongs to you as much as to the next fella so don't give it up. And try not to be scared of people not liking you. Just you try liking them. Just keep your faith and your courage and you'll turn out all right.- Dr. Selden
What's the use of wonderin' / If the endin' will be sad? / He's your feller and you love him / There's nothin' more to say / Something made him the way that he is / Makes him do the things he does / And something gave him the things that he has / One of those things is you / So what's the use of wonderin' if the endin' will be sad / You're his girl and he's your feller / And all the rest is talk.- Julie Jordan
Frank Sinatra was cast as Billy, but backed out because each scene had to be shot twice (once in 35mm, once in 55mm). Three weeks after he left, they found a way to film the scene once on 35mm, then transfer it onto 55mm.
Although this film was publicized as being filmed and shown in CinemaScope 55 (a wider-than-usual, 55 millimeter, 6-track stereo system), it was only shown in standard 35mm Cinemascope with the usual 4-track stereo system. See also King and I, The (1956).
Two songs from the show, "You're A Queer One, Julie Jordan," performed in the film by Barbara Ruick and Shirley Jones, and "Blow High, Blow Low," performed in the film by 'Mitchell, Cameron' and a male chorus, were recorded, but do not appear in the final film. They are both included on the film soundtrack album.
In 1956, Twentieth-Century Fox had two Rodgers and Hammerstein films in release in 1956 - "Carousel" and King and I, The (1956), as well as the Cinemascope version of the 1955 Oklahoma! (1955). "Carousel", although a critical success, was a box-office failure (probably because of its very serious, downbeat plot), while "The King and I" was a smash hit both critically and financially. Because of this, Fox put all of its Oscar campaign clout behind "The King and I". The result was that "The King and I" was nominated for, and received, several Oscars, while "Carousel" became the only Rodgers and Hammerstein film to be completely shut out of the Academy Awards. Conductor and music supervisor Alfred Newman led the orchestra for both films, and won for "The King and I".
'Judy Garland' , who was fresh from _Star is Born, A (1954)_ , was considered for the role of Julie Jordan, although that never materialized.
The film's title card reads "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel." Unlike Rodgers and Hammerstein's play, the film begins with "Billy Bigelow," deceased and relegated to the lower reaches of heaven, polishing a star. He then flings the star across the screen, and it bursts into the film's title. At the start of the Broadway play, Billy is alive. The film reprises all of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway score with the exception of the songs "The Highest Judge of All" and "Blow High, Blow Low." Although the Variety review indicates that the song "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan" was performed in the film, only a few bars from the music are heard.
The picture's opening credits read "introducing CinemaScope 55." According to studio publicity contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, Carousel was the first motion picture filmed in CinemaScope 55, a process that brought greater definition to the screen image. In his autobiography, cinematographer Charles Clarke explained that Twentieth Century-Fox converted their old 70mm cameras to accept 55mm film stock. The 55mm film was then optically printed back to 35mm for theater projection. Clarke noted that because this was Fox's first experience with the new process, the studio decided to shoot additional takes of every scene in 35mm as a precaution. The Daily Variety review commented that the dance routines were "greatly enhanced by this process, which gives a clear image to every inch of the screen. In fact...the screen has surpassed the stage as a medium for dance numbers since the technique of the performers is much more clearly seen."
The dual-camera requirement caused Frank Sinatra, who was initially cast as Billy, to walk off the set, claiming that he was being forced to act in two films for the price of one, according to Clarke and an August 1955 Los Angeles Examiner article. When he quit, Sinatra had already pre-recorded songs to be synchronized with the image. A August 30, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Fox sued Sinatra, but the disposition of that suit is unknown. Gordon MacRae, who took over the role, had previously co-starred with Shirley Jones in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (see below). Sinatra recorded "If I Loved You" and "Soliloquy" in the mid-1940s. Those recordings were released on the 1959 album "The Frank Sinatra Story in Music." According to a July 22, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, David Cross auditioned for a role in the film, but his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
Filming began in Booth Bay Harbor, ME, with the dance number "June Is Busting Out All Over." Once studio executives viewed both the 35mm and 55mm versions of that number, they decided a 35mm version was unnecessary and so abandoned the dual filming, according to Clarke. Carousel also featured the technological innovation of a six-channel sound system that featured two more channels than conventional stereo sound, according to studio publicity. Claramae Turner, who played "Cousin Nettie," was a contralto with the Metropolitan Opera, as noted in an August 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item. Carousel marked her only film appearance.
Ferenc Molnár's play has been the basis of several others films. In 1921, Metro Pictures produced a film entitled A Trip to Paradise, directed by Maxwell Karger and starring Bert Lytell and Virginia Valli. Liliom, a 1930 Fox production, was directed by Frank Borzage and starred Charles Farrell and Rose Hobart (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30, for both). In 1935, the Fox Film Corp. produced a French version also entitled Liliom, starring Charles Boyer and Madeleine Ozeray and directed by Fritz Lang (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). In 1967, a television version of the musical Carousel was produced by Armstrong Circle Theater, directed by Paul Bogart and starring Robert Goulet and Mary Grover. After a successful run in London, the Nicholas Hynter-directed revival of the musical played on Broadway from March 24, 1994 to January 15, 1995. Michael Hayden and Sally Murphy starred as Billy and Julie in the revival.
Released in United States on Video September 13, 1990
Released in United States Winter February 1956
Released in United States Winter February 1956
Released in United States on Video September 13, 1990