Carousel Movie Stills
Many of the stills here are from what was known as The Golden Age of Hollywood, which began at the end of the silents in the late 1920’s and lasted through the 1960’s, when the popularity of movies soared. Some of the movies in the stills are well-known, some are from lesser-known films. Stills used to be available to buy at the used bookstores in Hollywood, now they can be found at ebay.
Herschell and Parkers carousels are often seen as portables were plentiful for rental from the many kiddielands that then dotted the Los Angeles where the major motion picture studios were located.
One movie that deserves mention is Strangers on a Train, Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece. The amusement park scenes were filmed at a private ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The Herschell carousel was a rental. In the close-up scenes of the carousel, some horses from the nearby Griffith Park carousel are visible. The carousel crash scene was done with a combination of blue-screen special effects and miniatures. In the scene where the old carny crawls under the runaway carousel in an attempt to stop it – that was real. Hitchcock said he would never do anything like that again. If you haven’t seen this captivating movie, you haven’t seen the greatest carousel movie scene ever!
Stills from B. Williams collection.
1936 – Poppy – Comedy, starring W.C. Fields, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Cromwell. Snake oil salesman (Fields) tries to stay ahead of the sheriff, while remaining loyal to his beloved daughter (Hudson).
Left -W.C Fields and Gloria Swanson
Right – Hudson and Cromwell on Parker an unknown Parker carousel.
1941 – Road Show – Comedy, Music – starring Aldophe Menjou, John Hubbard, Carole Landis, Patsy Kelly. The male lead (Hubbard) flees to an asylum, faking insanity, to escape marrying a gold digger. There he meets Menjoue, a comical character, and together they join up with a carnival that leads to slapstick adventures. Patsy Kelly on a Herchell horse.
1945 – The Stork Club (?) – Comedy, Romance, Musical – starring Barry Fitzgerald, Betty Hutton, Don DdeFore. Saved from drowning by a hat-check girl (Hutton), Fitzgerald repays her by providing a good life for her anonymously. Her boyfriend (DeFore) thinks she’s a kept woman. Fitzgerald on a mock-upcarousel with Looff horses.
1947 – The Imperfect Lady – Drama, Romance – starring Ray Milland and Teresa Wright. Set in the 1890’s in England. Wright, in a touring dance troupe, falls for Milland who is aspiring to be in Parliament. Fearing her status will harm his future, she reconnects with a dance troupe and while in full makeup, is mistaken for a prostitute. In the end, love wins out and Milland chooses Wright over politics. Milland and Teresa Wright on an unknown Parker.
1951 – Strangers on a Train – Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller – starring Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll. Two strangers, Bruno and Guy, meet on a train where a plot is launched in which each will kill -demented Bruno (Walker) will kill Guy’s (Granger) cheating wife and Guy will kill Bruno’s hated father.
Unknown Herschell carousel with horses from the Griffith Park Spillman.
Interesting additional information about the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Strangers on a Train.
Bruce Pier, former manager of operations of the Seaport Village, San Diego, Broadway Flying Horses Looff carousel in San Diego, CA, posted this about the carousel in the movies Strangers on a Train at the NCA Facebook site –
“The actual machine was part of Craft Shows, which was a large carnival that worked the West Coast in that era. They built up a section of a machine on a sound stage, and manually moved the horses up and down. It was shot in front of a screen with a film shot that had been shot on a carousel running. They progressively speed up the film and the action as the scene progressed. The climax was shot with a model and then shown on the screen behind the actors. Craft’s Exposition shows were on the road from 1947 until 1956. What happened to it beyond that date I’m currently not sure. It could have been sold or liquidated. The machine was either a Hershell or a Spillman with the art deco scenery package added, so it could have traveled for a while. The interior scene was Hitchcock’s doing, as they didn’t have single cylinder steam engines powering them that could overspeed the drive.”
1956 – Carousel – Drama, Musical – starring Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell, Barbara Ruick. Carousel operator, Billy Bigelow (MacRae) marries Julie (Jones) but their love isn’t enough to keep him out of trouble.
Left – Jones and Ruick on an Unknown Herschell carousel
Right – Invitation to the premier of Carousel
1957 – Jeanne Eagles – Biography, Drama – starring Kim Novak, Jeff Chandler, Agnes Moorhead. Failed beauty queen Novak becomes a carnival dancer white aspiring to become an actress. She succeeds only to alienate her supporters which point her in a downward spiral. Novak and Chandler on a Herschell carnival carousel.
1965 – Sylvia – Drama – starring George Maharis, Carroll Baker, Joanne Dru, Peter Lawford, Aldo Ray. Sylvia’s wealthy betrothed does a background check and discovers she has a sordid background. The PI hired to uncover her past (Maharis) falls for Sylvia (Baker) so he does not disclose his findings. Maharis and Baker on the Beverly Park Parker.
1969 – Change of Habit – Crime, Drama, Music – starring Elvis Presely, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara MC Nair. Preparing to be a nun, Moore goes incognito into a tough neighborhood to make improvements to prove she is ready to make the commitment. She didn’t plan on falling for a young doctor (Elvis) and has to make a choice between him and her original plan. A mock-up carousel with Spillman-type horses with added decorations.
1989 – Johnny Handsome – Crime, Drama, Thriller – starring Mickey Rourke, Elizabeth McGovern. Given a new face to replace a deformed one and paroled from jail, thanks to a kindly doctor, Rourke, a career criminal, still seeks revenge against the person who sent him to jail. Rourke and McGovern at the Griffith park Spillman carousel.