Gordon Macrae

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Carousel Review


Excellent
The fact that Carousel is Rogers and Hammerstein's least accessible and darkest musical is what makes it so compelling. It has its lovely melodies and dance numbers, of course, but there's no escaping the fact that this is a story about spousal abuse, parental abandonment, and suicide, and no one is going to whistle a happy tune through all that.

Set in a coastal Maine mill town sometime around 1900, the painful love story brings together itinerant carnival worker Billy Bigelow (Gordon MacRae) and virginal mill worker Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones), who fall passionately in love even though everyone thinks she could do a lot better. Hot-tempered and insecure, Billy wants to be a productive member of society, but he doesn't know how, and once he's married and Julie is pregnant, he fears he won't be able to provide. Their situation is contrasted with that of Julie's best friend, Carrie Pipperidge (Barbara Ruick), and her prosperous fiancé, Mr. Snow (Robert Rounseville).

Continue reading: Carousel Review

Oklahoma! Review


Very Good
"There's a bright golden haze on the meadow," sings Curly (Gordon MacRae) as Oklahoma! kicks off. He's right. There's also a brilliant blue sky filled with cotton-candy clouds and rolling farmland and pretty girls in petticoats. Even the horses are gorgeous. This visual feast, the first feature shot in Todd-AO widescreen (and filmed simultaneously in CinemaScope) was one of many mid-'50s features seemingly designed to lure armies of Americans away from their new black-and-white TVs and back into movie theaters for a dazzling experience.

And dazzling it is. One of the most fun and hummable of Rodgers and Hammerstein's many musicals, Oklahoma! took 12 years to make it from its innovative Broadway debut (it was the first musical in which every song related directly to the plot) to the big screen. The story of the romance between cowboy Curly and virginal Laurey (Shirley Jones in full soprano mode), it has plenty of peripheral characters, each of whom gets a song and dance along the way, from slutty Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame) ("I Caint Say No') and her boyfriend Will Parker (Gene Nelson) ("Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City") to the kind-hearted Aunt Eller (Charlotte Greenwood), on whose farm Laurey lives.

Continue reading: Oklahoma! Review

Oklahoma! Review


Very Good
"There's a bright golden haze on the meadow," sings Curly (Gordon MacRae) as Oklahoma! kicks off. He's right. There's also a brilliant blue sky filled with cotton-candy clouds and rolling farmland and pretty girls in petticoats. Even the horses are gorgeous. This visual feast, the first feature shot in Todd-AO widescreen (and filmed simultaneously in CinemaScope) was one of many mid-'50s features seemingly designed to lure armies of Americans away from their new black-and-white TVs and back into movie theaters for a dazzling experience.

And dazzling it is. One of the most fun and hummable of Rodgers and Hammerstein's many musicals, Oklahoma! took 12 years to make it from its innovative Broadway debut (it was the first musical in which every song related directly to the plot) to the big screen. The story of the romance between cowboy Curly and virginal Laurey (Shirley Jones in full soprano mode), it has plenty of peripheral characters, each of whom gets a song and dance along the way, from slutty Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame) ("I Caint Say No') and her boyfriend Will Parker (Gene Nelson) ("Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City") to the kind-hearted Aunt Eller (Charlotte Greenwood), on whose farm Laurey lives.

Continue reading: Oklahoma! Review

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