Timeless Rodgers and Hammerstein musical fantasy with Gordon MacRae as a deceased fairground barker who gets a day-release from heaven to right his wrongs on Earth and realises that he shoulda been nicer to his lovely wife Shirley Jones. The songs are terrific but it's the underlying performances that make the merry-go-round spin. A vibrant, poignant treat.
Full of warmth and colour, and some of the most lilting music Richard Rodgers ever wrote, this is an almost totally successful version of the stage smash.
Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, the sweethearts from Oklahoma!, are fortuitously re-teamed as Billy Bigelow, the irresponsible fairground barker, and Julie Jordan.
Frank Sinatra had been cast as Billy, but he walked out on finding he had to shoot all scenes twice, once in widescreen and once in normal ratio.
MacRae was rushed in and produced the performance of a lifetime. So did Barbara Ruick, as the girl who falls for fisherman Mr Snow, and Cameron Mitchell is also excellent as the rascally Jigger.
Both Ruick and Mitchell sing remarkably well, and indeed one of the bonuses of this particular musical is that all of the players do their own singing.
And what songs! Look almost anywhere in this score and you'll find a hit: If I Loved You, My Boy Bill, June is Busting Out All Over, A Real Nice Clambake, When I Marry Mr Snow, When the Children Are Asleep, What's the Use of Wondrin' and You'll Never Walk Alone. Sinatra made a big hit record of that, perhaps regretting what might have been.