Henry Ephron

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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

Desk Set Review


Good
She's a crack researcher at a publishing firm. He's a computer expert (well, a 1957 computer expert) that's tasked with implementing a system in her department. Together they're Hepburn and Tracy in what would be their second-to-last film together (the final movie being Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 10 years later). Desk Set is quaintly funny and has a few memorable moments -- namely since modern audiences will chuckle over the enormous "electronic brain" installed in the office, a computer that can do more than today's machines are able to do. The typical screwball comedy banter is less fun here than in many contemporaries -- and especially than in many of the duo's prior outings -- but it's ultimately harmless fun with a gossamer message about technology and gender roles.
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