What's new

Some Brief Notes by Brad About: Carousel (1956) on Blu-ray. (1 Viewer)

Kyrsten Brad

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Messages
2,322
Location
Merritt Island, Florida
Real Name
Brad
And a Hearty Happy Sunday Morning to all here. Thought I'd type this up before church. Now I was going to start titling my reviews "Some Briefs By Brad About" being a military guy and use of the term "Brief" but then I realized I'd be opening myself up to "briefs vs. boxers" jokes big time. So onward.

Carousel_DVD.jpg


Finally got around to watching my Carousel blu-ray (part of the R&H Collection Set) mainly because my MIL really wanted to see it (she being a teenager back in 1956) and our beloved neighbor Joanie (again a be-bopping teenager back in 1956) and this is the first time they saw the movie well since they saw it at the theater back in 1956 (don't know if it was a regular sit-down theater or one of this 1950s era drive-ins). So everyone came over and we all had a nice evening.
Viewed the movie on the 70" Vizio E-Series (a TV that I've really been impressed with since I got it at the Wal-Mart Black Friday 2013 sale, $700 off the $1698.00 price).

The Movie: It kept me interested to be sure (having seen a on-stage production of Carousel back in the 1990s). I do like these "come back from the dead to assist" type films (a la Heaven Can Wait or Ghost). Lordy was Shirley Jones a drop-dead gorgeous teenager (or portraying a 18 y/o ish teenager, she was 22 in real life in Carousel). No wonder that 14 years later (Partridge Family Days) I wanted her to be my mom, but my real mom was quite a beauty queen herself. ( I didn't say that back then, all my friends from school did ). Not only was Shirley beautiful, she was showing that she could act as well.

Gordon McRae playing the part of "Billy" played it quite well too. Safe to say that back in the 1950s, the "sensitive guy" character was relatively rare as Billy was definitely a muscleheaded bully who even hit his own wife (we never say any actual hit in the film) Seems like the movie was trying to portray Billy as a tough guy but with a soft streak he kept repressed which the film looked to portray in a sympathetic way (No way would any film today, especially with the Ray Rice episode in the news would give any sympathetic treatment to any man who hit his wife).
Overally I could see why this film is now such a classic. And being a musical, plenty of singing from Shirley Jones (now I know why she sang backup on the later Partridge Family songs) and from Gordon McRae who wasn't half bad either. But in a way I wish Frank Sinatra had not walked away from this film. Oh what could have been.

The Technical Aspects:
From IMDB:
Carousel (1956) Technical Specifications
Showing all 9 technical specifications
Runtime
2 hr 8 min (128 min)
Sound Mix
4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints) | 6-Track Stereo (premiere only) | 4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (CinemaScope 55)
Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1
Camera
Bausch & Lomb Lenses
Laboratory
DeLuxe (color by) (as De Luxe)
Negative Format
55 mm
Cinematographic Process
CinemaScope 55
Printed Film Format
35 mm

My opinons. My PQ rating, 4.3. Actually I was quite pleased with the quality even though I've read some accounts of less than stellar PQ, including a "blue cast" which I did notice in some scenes but flesh tones seemed OK even in those scenes. No characters came off looking like Smurfs. I had the "Smooth Motion" setting set on low for this film (like I do with most films) and it lent a nice real-life feel to the film without too much "soap-opera effect". Soundwise Carousel sounded really good (on my combo of a Vizio 2.1 Soundbar and the old-but-still-functioning Aiwa sound system) and will probably sound a lot better this Christmas when I get the new Denon E400 AVR/ Boston Acoustics 5.1 Speakers combo up on the 70.

Note: I did a search for Carousel on the forum before putting this up. While I found several references, there was no dedicated thread so thought I'd put this up.

Summary: Everyone at our condo was very impressed with the presentation (no RAH-caliber critics in the crowd though RAH's opinions are always welcome here). That along with South Pacific (the theatrical version) made for a nice weekend viewing while waiting for NFL Football.
 

Matt Hough

Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
24,484
Location
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
Enjoyed reading your thoughts on the film, Brad, and thanks for sharing them. I did review the film and the disc but not separately: instead the review is part of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection the review of which can be found here.

I do not share your dismay over the loss of Frank Sinatra. I don't think there was a singing film actor of that era that could have equaled what Gordon MacRae brought to the role. Sinatra was a wonderful crooner, but there is a richness and depth to MacRae's tone that Sinatra at this stage of his career simply couldn't match, and Rodgers' glorious music requires that kind of resonance to really have maximum impact. And physically, he's a lot more imposing, too.
 

Kyrsten Brad

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Messages
2,322
Location
Merritt Island, Florida
Real Name
Brad
Oh I forgot to mention the nice comments by all of us watching the film and how they just don't make real honest-to-goodness films like this anymore. Nice to sit back and watch real talent on display without something blowing up every 5 minutes or girls looking like sexualized child's dolls (cough cough, Miley...cough cough).

Nice too to see how real women looked, acted & dressed back then (even though Shirley Jones in the 1990s did play a homicidal "robot" with super "freeze" powers in one TV movie which I don't recall the name).

Wonderful to see the classic coming to Blu-ray, even if some aren't perfect transfers.
 

GlennF

Premium
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
521
Location
Toronto, Canada
Real Name
Glenn Frost
Glad you enjoyed it, but have to say it is far from one of my favourite movie musicals...and I am a big fan of musicals. The music is great and Jones and MacRae both sing spectacularly. And no one arranges like Alfred Newman.However, I have never really found the movie works dramatically. The jump from the real settings in Maine to the studio ones can be jarring. Hate the "heaven" set. MacRae was an amazing singer..as actor only okay. It just somehow doesn't all come together. Not sure why. This is one of those movies that when I watch I skip from song to song and pretty much pass on the plot.I know others love this film...and I have no quarrel with that. I am just not one of them.
 

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
3,598
Location
PA
Real Name
Will
Kyrsten Brad said:
I had the "Smooth Motion" setting set on low for this film (like I do with most films) and it lent a nice real-life feel to the film without too much "soap-opera effect"
Brad, can I ask why you have Smooth Motion on at ALL for film watching? You're such a film lover it surprises me that you would engage the function at even its lowest setting since, even at that setting, it's going to move the image away from a film like look. Does the new vizio properly reproduce 24fps? That should be all you need.
 

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
3,598
Location
PA
Real Name
Will
GlennF said:
This is one of those movies that when I watch I skip from song to song and pretty much pass on the plot.I know others love this film...and I have no quarrel with that. I am just not one of them.
I'm with you, Glenn. I absolutely hate Billy Bigelow and it's one of the few musicals that actually makes me angry (I can remember being in high school and the Head Librarian, in charge of the musical, told me we were doing CAROUSEL our junior year. I must have looked at her like she had two heads because she just said, "I know....I know.")

That being said, I think my least favorite R&H musical ironically contains one of the arguably best scores they ever wrote. It's positively ravishing.
 

Jacksmyname

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
312
Real Name
Jack Walder
I'm another so-so fan of this one. The music and singing are terrific, but for some reason this movie just never grabbed a hold of me.
I also agree with Matt about Sinatra. I'm a big fan of Sinatra, but I don't think he would have fit the role; too small in physical stature. And, as Matt also mentioned, his voice just wouldn't have fit what the role called for.
But I'm glad to read that the BD is a good one. My wife likes this one, and I have a 7.2 audio system that I love, so it's on my to buy list. Thanks for the review, Brad.
 

bigshot

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2008
Messages
2,926
Real Name
Stephen
You've got a great idea with your thread title there. I'm going to title my next post "Why I'm Right and You're Probably Wrong by Bigshot". That title will really fit the spirit of the internet!
 

JohnMor

Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
5,153
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Real Name
John Moreland
Will Krupp said:
I'm with you, Glenn. I absolutely hate Billy Bigelow and it's one of the few musicals that actually makes me angry (I can remember being in high school and the Head Librarian, in charge of the musical, told me we were doing CAROUSEL our junior year. I must have looked at her like she had two heads because she just said, "I know....I know.")

That being said, I think my least favorite R&H musical ironically contains one of the arguably best scores they ever wrote. It's positively ravishing.
I'm in the minority I know, but I have never liked this score. "Till I loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" are the only two pieces in it I like. Don't even get me started on "This Was A Real Nice Clambake." Good Lord! To me this score has never been able to hold a candle to South Pacific or The King and I.

EDIT: I forgot about "What's the Use of Wond'rin?" That's an okay song.
 

Mark-P

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2005
Messages
5,983
Location
Camas, WA
Real Name
Mark Probst
One question Brad, this remark puzzled me:
Kyrsten Brad said:
And being a musical, plenty of singing from Shirley Jones (now I know why she sang backup on the later Partridge Family songs) and from Gordon McRae who wasn't half bad either.
Are you saying she was such a bad singer she deserved to be a backup singer?
 

classicmovieguy

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2011
Messages
3,353
Location
Australia
Real Name
Byron
Put me in the camp with the other pro-Gordon MacRae supporters. Sinatra, as good as he was, was not the ideal choice for Billy. We can be thankful that Gordon was available and was able to rush into filming to replace him. MacRae's voice is one of the most lustrous ever heard in film musicals; he made it all look so easy. And he was a great actor besides. Compare MacRae in his "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" roles - less than a year apart - and then go back to his early musicals at Warner Bros., and you'll see how much he had grown.
 

AnthonyClarke

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2010
Messages
2,727
Location
Woodend Victoria Australia
Real Name
Anthony
Thanks for your thoughts about one of my all-time favourite musicals, Kyrsten ... though I have to agree with many others that Gordon MacRae was just perfect for this role. I love Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey; his type of film. This isn't.
But I must admit that much as my wife loves Gordon MacRae (in fact just about idolises him), she can't watch this movie.Too sentimental for her. And I must admit that even I, with all my love for the musical, can't help cringing at the speech 'is it possible for someone to hit you hard, really hard, and it not hurt' or words to that effect.
But all that is forgiven when I see lovely Shirley sing 'What's the Use of Wondering' in what has to be one of the most perfect sequences in all music-theatre!
Welcome to the fold, Kyrsten!
 

Steve Tannehill

R.I.P - 4.28.2015
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 6, 1997
Messages
5,547
Location
DFW
Real Name
Steve Tannehill
The movie is okay, but I vastly prefer the Royal Shakespeare Company version which I saw on Broadway in 1994 (and later on tour in Dallas).
 

Kyrsten Brad

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Messages
2,322
Location
Merritt Island, Florida
Real Name
Brad
Mark-P said:
One question Brad, this remark puzzled me:


Are you saying she was such a bad singer she deserved to be a backup singer?
No of course not. Her singing is awesome. It was just very nice that they Partridge Family producers were able to tab her for backup to David Cassidy.

Incidentally of all the Partridge Family, only Shirley & David did the actual singing on the hit songs.
 

Kyrsten Brad

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Messages
2,322
Location
Merritt Island, Florida
Real Name
Brad
Will Krupp said:
Brad, can I ask why you have Smooth Motion on at ALL for film watching? You're such a film lover it surprises me that you would engage the function at even its lowest setting since, even at that setting, it's going to move the image away from a film like look. Does the new vizio properly reproduce 24fps? That should be all you need.
Guess its a matter of personal preference. I know a lot of film viewers do not like the smooth motion effect. And when I first got the Vizio 70, the default setting was on high at first making Back To The Future really look like a soap opera.

Learned something new and after I learned to adjust the setting (down to low or even off for some films), I was quite satisfied.

Oh and the new Vizio 49" M-Series has the Smooth Motion feature but it doesn't seem as "strong" as on the E-Series 70 (still wishing though I could get the M-Series 70 or better yet, the M-Series 80).
 

David_B_K

Advanced Member
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
2,332
Location
Houston, TX
Real Name
David
Matt Hough said:
I do not share your dismay over the loss of Frank Sinatra. I don't think there was a singing film actor of that era that could have equaled what Gordon MacRae brought to the role. Sinatra was a wonderful crooner, but there is a richness and depth to MacRae's tone that Sinatra at this stage of his career simply couldn't match, and Rodgers' glorious music requires that kind of resonance to really have maximum impact. And physically, he's a lot more imposing, too.
I feel a tad compelled to come to Sinatra's defense. I think Sinatra was far more than a "crooner" type singer. In his prime, he sang in an almost "operatic" manner (although his voice was not operatic). In the great Sinatra recordings, he really pushes out the notes with his diaphragm, sustaining the notes with amazing breath control like an opera singer. Sure, in a lot of his 40's era stuff he concentrated on crooner type songs. But when he went to Capitol Records, he became an entirely different singer. I don't know when Carousel was filmed, but in the years 1955-1956 Sinatra recorded In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin' Lovers!, Close to You and A Swingin' Affair! Sinatra was at his vocal peak at this time. Just listen to the sustained note of the final "night and daaaaaaaaay". It is this extra powerful dimension in his voice that lifts Sinatra above the "standard" crooners of his era.

IMO, Sinatra peaked around 1958-1959. Only the Lonely was released in 1958. This album IMO features Sinatra's most "epic" vocals. What's New? alone is worth the price of admission. You can actually get a bit of a glimpse of how Sinatra would have done in Carousel on the album The Concert Sinatra, released in 1963. IMO, Sinatra had lost some of his range by then, but he does a bang-up job on Soliloquy and You'll Never Walk Alone. Had he recorded these in 1955-1956, they would have been even better.

I also think Sinatra was a better actor than Gordon MacRae. MacRae always struck me as a square-jawed stalwart type of hero. Billy Bigelow, however, is pretty much a loser. I think Sinatra would have played the part as a guy with a certain amount of charm on the exterior, while inwardly being more of a con man. However, it is probably just as well that the movie was made the way it was. Every time I read about alternative castings, I usually find myself being glad they went with the final choice in the end. I'm thinking Rock Hudson instead of Heston for Ben-Hur; Olivier instead of Rock Hudson in Seconds, Olivier instead of Brando in The Godfather, etc). MacRae's Bigelow is less the cad the Sinatra would have been, and comes off rather more benignly as a well meaning failure with potential, which is a perfectly fine way to play it. His voice is more operatic and fits well with Shirley Jones' semi-operatic voice as well. MacRae comes off as more likable than Sinatra would have. And also, for all his talent, we know how difficult Sinatra could be when it came to retakes on films.

So, while I think the movie came off fine with Gordon MacRae, I do think Sinatra could have pulled it off.
 

WilliamMcK

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
305
Location
New York, NY
Real Name
Biff
My 2 cents:

CAROUSEL -- my favorite musical play of all time (well... maybe tied with WEST SIDE STORY)

The movie -- disappointing. Too much of the score was cut; the flashback structure robs the story of the impact of Billy's death; and changing Billy's suicide to an accidental death more or less destroys the point the of the piece. All that said... I still watch the movie multiple times over the course of a year... the orchestrations are sublime... and other than a low budget 1967 television version with Robert Goulet, this is the only CAROUSEL I've got.

The controversy: I wouldn't dare tell anyone what should or should not offend... we all have our own ideas; but to me CAROUSEL (and it's source play, LILIOM) isn't about domestic abuse... it's about individuals who are troubled and who have lived tamped down lives because of the social/economic class they've been born into. Julie *and* Billy are both very sympathetic to me as they try to muddle through with very few options. CAROUSEL in particular is about redemption more than anything.

Sinatra vs. MacRae: I'll take Gordon in this role... his type of voice is what the score was written for. Having said that, I do think it might have been interesting to see what Sinatra would have come up with in terms of characterization.

The transfer: I prefer the color palette of the previous DVD release over the new blu-ray, but the increase in resolution more than makes up for this (and I can tweak my color temperature and back light to get a more pleasing picture).

Smooth Motion: I find on my Samsung that if I customize that brand's version of "smooth motion" (Samsung calls it "Auto Motion Plus") adjusting the Blur Reduction to 10, and the Judder Reduction to 0, I get no soap opera effect at all (it's the judder reduction that causes the problem).

Recommendations: LILIOM (1930, Frank Borzage), and LILIOM (1934, Fritz Lang). Film versions of the Ferenc Molnar play that was the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical. I love both movies... with the edge going to the earlier Borzage film (it's a very strange... unique movie).
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
350,771
Messages
4,930,227
Members
142,910
Latest member
fadilale
Recent bookmarks
0
Top