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Like its immediate predecessor, Oklahoma!, this 1956 screen musical boasted then state-of-the-art widescreen cinematography, stereophonic sound, a starring romantic duo with onscreen chemistry, and the Rodgers & Hammerstein imprimatur. Adding to its promise was a source (the venerable Ferenc Molnar play Liliom) that had already been filmed three times. Yet unlike the original Broadway production, and despite evident craft, Carousel proved a box-office disappointment. Why? Hindsight argues that '50s moviegoers may have been unprepared for its tragic narrative, the sometimes unsympathetic protagonist, and a spiritual...