OKLAHOMA! is a real joy to look at and listen to, as a king-sized valentine to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s legendary play. It suffers a bit on small TV screens, designed as it was for for filling eyes with 65mm projection views of countryside and big blue skies.
Lot’s of chuckles here, a real audience charmer, with memorable characters. Gordon MacRae is perfect as ‘Curley’, Gloria Grahame a kick as ‘Ado Annie’, Charlotte Greenwood having a ball as ‘Aunt Eller’, Rod Steiger providing the jarring menace of ‘Jud Fry’. It marked the film debut of 20-year-old Shirley Jones as ‘Laurey’.
The marvelous score is done up to a tee; you pick your own favorite songs from the eleven on hand. The color is beautiful (Robert Surtees on camera), costumes are good, sound quality excellent.
Only drawback is a nightmare dance sequence—called ‘Dream Ballet’— that’s totally out of place with the rest of the piece. It goes on forever, and you almost lose interest in the movie waiting for this obnoxious blast to wind down.
Critics complained that in adapting the play for the big-screen they made it overlong (it’s 145 minutes), going for greatness via length. Only that interminable dance number justifies that critique.* That nag aside, relax and enjoy a melodic American institution.
Oscars for Music Score and Sound, nominations for Cinematography and Film Editing. Directed by Fred Zinnemann on a very large budget of $6,800,000, the 1955 hit came in 4th for the years releases. With Gene Nelson, Eddie Albert, James Whitmore, Jay C. Flippen, Barbara Lawrence, Roy Barcroft, Bambi Linn and Marc Platt.
- *Otherwise enjoyable musicals plagued by those damned interpretive dance dream numbers include The King And I and Fiddler On The Roof.