Carousel (1956)

Carousel (1956)

“I just couldn’t get the hang of being married.”

A man (Gordon MacRae) who has been dead for 15 years reflects back on his troubled marriage to a girl (Shirley Jones) he met while working as a carousel barker, then negotiates with a starkeeper (Gene Lockhart) to go back down for Earth for one day to make amends with his wife and teenage daughter (Susan Luckey).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cameron Mitchell Films
  • Henry King Films
  • Life After Death
  • Marital Problems
  • Musicals
  • Play Adaptations
  • Shirley Jones Films

This adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 Broadway musical — directed by Henry King — tells the problematic tale of a handsome but unemployed loser named Billy (MacRae) who manages to marry one of the sweetest girls in town (Julie) and causes her little but heartbreak before leaving her pregnant and widowed. The culminating moral, believe it or not, is that Billy doesn’t really mean to hurt Julie (Jones) when he hits her — and gosh darn it, it’s just too bad he had to go and get killed while participating in a robbery with his no-good accomplice (Cameron Mitchell). The narrative counterpart to Julie and Billy’s marriage is Julie’s friend Carrie (Barbara Ruick), who marries a pompous but stable fisherman (Robert Rounseville) and eventually produces a prodigious brood — though it’s not exactly clear whether we’re supposed to wish Julie had made a similar choice (?). There is so little to this flimsily told tale — framed by MacRae being given an opportunity to go down to Earth for just one day, at which point he attempts to convince his daughter that she shouldn’t feel held back by what a louse her dad was — that one watches simply to enjoy the colorful cinematography and musical numbers, including the infectiously choreographed “June is Bustin’ Out All Over”. Feel free to skip this one unless you’re a diehard Rodgers and Hammerstein fan.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful cinematography
  • Some enjoyable musical numbers

Must See?
No; this one isn’t must see.


One thought on “Carousel (1956)

  1. Agreed; not must-see (mainly for reasons already stated).

    This has never been a particular favorite of mine when it comes to musicals – but fans of very conventional musicals will want to see it… and admittedly it does have a few standout songs (‘If I Loved You’, ‘Soliloquy’ and the justifiably famous ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’).

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