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Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow 
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Tony Winner
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Post Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow
I know that many people who post here feel that Gordon MacRae was terribly miscast. So I was wondering.

How should Billy be portrayed in YOUR opinion.

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Last edited by Patrick on Thu May 20, 2010 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:10 pm
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Tony Winner
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I don't know about most people, but I think Gordon MacRae was PERFECT as Billy Bigelow.

By the way, MacRae was not the studio's original choice for the role. That would have been Frank Sinatra, and I think we can all agree how TERRIBLE he would have been in that part. Anyway, Sinatra walked out of the film at the last moment (something about having to shoot every scene twice at two different film widths), so the studio replaced him with Gordon MacRae, who had just starred in Oklahoma!

The most ironic part of the story? They didn't end up having to shoot every scene twice after all. Someone figured out how to transfer footage from one width to the other, allowing them to just film everything once.


Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:46 am
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MCrae was totally miscast. he wasnt an "Actor" by nature.. and he came off as just a more abrasive version of his curley in oklahoma.

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Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:19 am
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Post Re: Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow
Patrick wrote:
I know that many people who post here feel that Gordon MacRae was terribly miscast.

Salome wrote:
MacRae was totally miscast. He wasnt an "actor" by nature and he came off as just a more abrasive version of his Curly in Oklahoma!

I agree that he was miscast. It's true that he does come off, as Dawn says, as a rougher version of Curly, but I don't think that's completely his fault or merely because he wasn't an "actor". I just watched the film again and MacRae makes some strong proposals in his performance at creating a character that is different from his Curly. The problem is that they don't go very far. Besides whatever limitations he may have had as an actor, he's also bumping his head against an inept adaptation of the stage show in which the character itself is not as fully complex as the character we know from the stage show, and with a director who doesn't seem to be at ease with the story he's telling on film. The combined result of these efforts is something workmanlike, rather than something transcendent and unforgettable, both in the film as a whole and in MacRae's performance.

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Thu May 20, 2010 9:17 pm
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I also do not like Shirley Jones as Julie Jordan or even Laurey, for that matter. It just goes to show you how an entire musical can tank when its romantic leads are miscast.

On the other hand, I adored her as Marian Paroo! Combine her (or Barbara Cook) with Bob Preston, and and you've got a winning pair...

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Sat May 22, 2010 4:49 pm
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Shirley Jones as Marian is my hero.

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Sun May 23, 2010 8:50 am
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Post Re: Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow
Well, MacRae not have been the world's greatest actor, in this or Oklahoma, but he could certainly sing. His Soliloquy, even with watered down lyrics to suit the censorship needs of the 1950s, still gives me goosebumps. Sinatra could never have achieved that, nor many other film musical singers of the time (except maybe Harve Presnell, which would have been interesting, or Howard Keel, who wouldn't have looked right).

I agree about Shirley Jones being a little too simpering. I didn't like her as Julie or as Laurey. Barbara Cook would have been much better.

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Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:58 pm
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Post Re: Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow
Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, I can't imagine better people for the roles.

Gordon MacRae's Soliloquy was amazing. How dreadful would Frank Sinatra have been in that role. It required the physicality of MacRae and of his voice.

Also, I just don't understand criticism of this film adaptation, so I'd like to understand why people do criticise it. The contrast between the location and studio? Yes it looks strange at times, but strangely some studio scenes are the best and most vibrant. The introductory scene of the carousel and the scene where the leads sing "If I loved you". Unrealistic by today's standards, but striking, the colour particularly.

I saw the 1994 revival in New York, but the film was the first version I saw, and it will always stay with me.

Is it also the finest of all Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals? I think so. The best music and songs. The Carousel Waltz is incredible, as is Soliloquy and You'll Never Walk Alone.


Last edited by GE on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:35 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:29 am
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Post Re: Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow
Robert Preston as Billy Bigelow? :lolno:


Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:32 am
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