Carousel (1956)

127-128 mins | Drama, Musical | February 1956

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HISTORY

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 Var 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 DV 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 ... More Less

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 Var 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 DV 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 Aug 1955 LAEx article. When he quit, Sinatra had already pre-recorded songs to be synchronized with the image. A 30 Aug 1955 HR 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 22 Jul 1955 HR 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 Aug 1955 HR 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 24 Mar 1994 to 15 Jan 1995. Michael Hayden and Sally Murphy starred as Billy and Julie in the revival. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Dec 1955
pp. 706-07, 726.
Box Office
18 Feb 1956.
---
Box Office
25 Feb 1956.
---
Daily Variety
17 Feb 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Feb 56
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 55
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 55
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 55
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 55
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 55
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 55
p. 35.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 55
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Aug 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Mar 56
p. 802.
New York Times
16 Feb 56
p. 25.
New York Times
17 Feb 56
p. 13.
Variety
22 Feb 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv and cond
Assoc
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
Louise's ballet derived from the orig by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical Carousel , music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, as produced by The Theatre Guild (New York, 19 Apr 1945), which was based on the play Liliom by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1909), translated and adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer (New York, 20 Apr 1921).
MUSIC
"The Carousel Waltz" and "Louise's Ballet" by Richard Rodgers.
SONGS
"When I Marry Mr. Snow," "If I Loved You," "June Is Bustin' Out All Over," "Soliloquy," "When the Children Are Asleep," "This Was a Real Nice Clambake," "Stonecutters Cut It on Stone," "What's the Use of Wondrin'" and "You'll Never Walk Alone," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel
Release Date:
February 1956
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 16 February 1956
Production Date:
mid August--16 November 1955
addl scenes 25 November 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 February 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6235
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope 55
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
127-128
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17724
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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