CAROUSEL, MOVIE-LOVE, AND THE CHICAGO THEATER

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“The musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the plot or develop the film’s characters, though in some cases they serve merely as breaks in the story line, often as elaborate production numbers. Typically, film musicals use lavish background scenery and locations. In such films, performers often treat their song and dance numbers as if there is a live audience watching.” [Wikipedia]

I was raised with the movies, black and white and then color. I still spend much time with movies, reading about film and films, though as I have gotten older, I hardly ever go to an actual movie theater, relying on other resources for my viewing pleasure.

An avid moviegoer since I can remember, I vividly recall attending my first CinemaScope 55 film Carousel.

cinemascope 55

Sometime in 1956, I had a Sunday-afternoon-experience with my mother, which included an L ride in Chicago, and the movie Carousel at the Chicago Theater:

chicago theater welcome

That was the “real” beginning. Since then, I have been mildly addicted and affected by the grand opening spectacle of this color film: 20TH CENTURY FOX, blazing out to me, with full orchestration.

20th century fox

(To this day, I get thrills when a film opens with this icon. Memories.)  Mesmerized, to say the least: In CinemaScope, the story, the music, and the production numbers were alive for me on that huge big screen. I was awestruck, not being familiar with this beautiful theater and with such a spectacle.

carousel_poster

I laughed and cried and moved with the music; I was saddened by the story. But a profound moment came for me at the end, when I, a mere fifteen years old, was told “You’ll never walk alone.” To this day–and most recently–I watch the movie, still fresh, sad, enlightening, with its tear-making choral finale. A classic, that has certainly withstood the test of time.

After seeing the movie, I could hum many of the songs; I knew then I had to have the music for my music library. My mother bought for me the small boxed-set in 45 rpm, for use in my portable carry-along phonograph. Later I purchased a 33 1/3 LP edition [and now have the CD and DVD].

Carousel_film_1956

I love movies. To that memory-of-a-time in 1956, I attribute my love and appreciation of so many kinds of film. Ultimately, I have come to possess my list of favorites–which changes as time passes and new films and movies are produced. However, one thing for sure, Carousel will always remain at the top of that list.

© James F. O’Neil 2015

 chicago theater by jeffB at flickriver

 Chicago Theater (by JeffB at flickr)

                                               

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2 comments
  1. I like musicals, too. And my mom is just crazy for them. So maybe I got it from her. We need more musicals!

  2. Thanks for sharing your passion! My husband and I are also extremely fond of certain movies, including what we call the “classics.” I was struck by your comment that you remembered the tunes from the movie. I have zero ability to do that! I’m impressed.

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