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Movies with Amusement Park Scenes, Especially Carousels


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Summer's here and the time is right for thinking about, maybe even going to, a good old-fashioned amusement park. A very summery thing to do.


There are lots of movies from all eras, I bet even including silents, that feature a visit to an amusement park. I'm thinking of the whole enchilada, the "mid-way", as my teenage friends and I used to call the centre of the fair, the side-shows, the unhealthy but delicious food, and perhaps most of all the rides!


The most popular and best of all were the roller-coaster, the "haunted-house/dark" ride, the ferris wheel, and the merry-go-round.

Think of how much these fairs are a part of our cultural history.


So, people, what are some films that come to mind with merry-go-rounds and amusement park settings in general? Let's get straight to it, no point in being roundabout. :|

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The movie that comes to my mind when amusement parks and carousels are mentioned is:

Strangers on a Train, 1951. Robert Walker in one of his best performances, and the end scene with the carousel going out of control is great!


They don't make them like that anymore! IMHO




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SUDDEN IMPACT has a particularly pointed ending with a carousel.


SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN has William Powell getting tipsy on one.


There's one featured in THE STING.


My sister was editor of "Carousel Horse and Trader" - I'll have to ask if she knows of any.

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I've always wanted to know what amusement park *Carnival of Souls* used at the setting-super creepy.


Griffith Park's carousel in LA is commonly used (Strangers on a Train) as is Long Beach's Hippodrome and Santa Monica Pier's carousel seen in *Inside Daisy Clover.*


I love the NYC carousel used in *Purple Rose of Cairo.* I generally see carousels/roller coasters/parks when they are closed and it gives others a chance to see what it's like.

*Coney Island* with Fatty Arbuckle shows several once common rides that are now very rare like The Whip.

*Ride The Pink Horse* shows a small simple carousel that would be completely appropriate for Mexico.


It's kind of my job to ID carousels and amusement parks in movies, although when I catch them on the screen they're sometimes difficult to see clearly.

It was thrilling to spot really good footage of an unusual Kansas built carousel at Cinefest last year, but can't remember the film title (I'll find out if anyone's interested)

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The reason I thought this could be a fun thread is because amusement parks are inherently "fun", and because moviemakers must have thought this too, since there are so many films, old and new, with scenes featuring these kinds of places, along with "fairs". In Britain I think they're called "fetes".


So yeah, *Strangers on a Train* has got to be a biggie in this department. As others have already mentioned, the final scene in this, one of Hitch's best films, centres ( literally !) around that merry-go-round. It's got to be one of the most entertaining, both suspenseful and at the same time kind of funny somehow, fairground scenes in moviedom. ( Of course there's the sinister fairground scene near the film's beginning, the one in which Bruno does his terrible deed. )


Trivia question: ( by the way, I know the answer, I just wondered if others did): What is the tune playing on the carousel's "calliope" in that final scene from *Strangers on a Train* ?

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Oh, at first I thought you meant the David Lean film - I didn't pay attention to the date- and I was wondering what fairground scene appeared in that.


Another great scene set in a fairground -some think one of the greatest scenes in movies, period - is the celebrated ferris wheel sequence in *The Third Man*. You know, the one in which Harry Lime gives Holly Martins the famous "cuckoo clock" speech, while the two of them are sitting at the top of a ferris wheel. Or maybe it's one of those "Alpine Ride" cars. Anyway, it's at a strange deserted fair ground with classic "rides".


One of my favourite books on Film Noir cites this scene as an example of film noir's "terrain vague", meaning a place, a setting, that is nowhere in particular, a strange place outside normal human interaction. Often these kinds of places can be locations where people would normally interact ( factories, train yards, fairgrounds) but they are oddly deserted during the scene in the film- maybe because the action in them often takes place in the middle of the night.



There's a mysterious, almost forbidden feel sometimes to amusement parks and fairgrounds, a kind of ineffable excitement quite different from the wholesome family fun kind of excitement that is also associated with fairs.

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Yes ! The Morris Engel film ! I was thinking of that movie, trying to remember what it was called. I remember, 2 or 3 years ago, TCM featured a month or so of Morris Engle movies. They are so different from anything else in cinema, then or now.


The *Little Fugitive* is an unusual and charming work, made in Engel's almost "cinema verite" style. And yes, almost the entire film takes place in the Coney Island amusement park.



Hot dogs, beaches, boardwalks, and pony rides !

Remember the part where the kid starts collecting pop bottles to garner a little change?



For sure, a major "amusement park" movie. Here's a link to the TCM site about it:




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filmlover, I'd never heard of *Liliom*. I just looked it up, and it sounds fascinating. And yeah, evidently the later movie *Carousel* took its story-line from this earlier French production. I'd love to see it.


I do like *Carousel* ( one or two people have already mentioned this one here), but despite the same two leads ( Gordon McCrea and Shirley Jones ) and the same songwriters ( Rodgers and Hammerstein) as *Oklahoma !*, it doesn't "work" for me as well as the Oakie picture. It's kind of strange and dream-like in parts, and I like that. I bet the earlier French version is even more so (strange and dream-like, that is.)

I have to say, many of those big production Hollywood musicals from the 50s have a bog-down point, and in *Carousel* it's "Soliloquy" ( which I had always thought was called "When My Son is Born" or something) . It just sort of bogs things down for a while.

Of course, "If I Loved You" and "June is Busting Out All Over" are pretty good, as is the memorable "Carousel" theme.

Hey, maybe I should bring back the "Musicals with Crummy Music" thread to discuss this !


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