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In the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the twentieth century, two young cowboys vie with an evil ranch hand and a traveling peddler for the hearts of the women they love. Written by
Scott Lane <email@example.com>
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There's a bright golden haze on the meadow, There's a bright golden haze on the meadow. The corn is as high as a elephant's eye, And it looks like it's climbin' clear up to the sky. Oh, what a beautiful mornin', Oh, what a beautiful day! I got a beautiful feelin' Everything's goin' my way.
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`Oklahoma' is the sexiest film of the 1950s. The film is all about sex, (well, it's about romance, as well, but what does that lead to?). Curley keeps finding different ways to woo Laurie. Jud, who lives in a dug-out surrounded by pictures of naked women, has plans for her, too. Will and Ado Annie have plans of their own, if they can ever stop both their wandering eyes. Annie's father knows what they are up to and figures to use his shot gun to set things right. Those spyglasses with the interesting pictures keep showing up. Women dance around in their underwear and we visit a dance hall where they are similarly dressed except for the colors. Finally there is Laurie's skinny dipping sequence. I assume Shirley Jones had a flash-colored bathing suit, but who knows? Deep Throat isn't any more about sex than this film is. Yet it's Rogers and Hammerstein so it's shown constantly as a family film. Well, I guess that's how families get made!
Other comments: I see nothing in the choreography that Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones couldn't have done, at least in the close-ups. We see Rod Steiger in the dream sequence and to see two other faces as Laurie and Curly kind of shatter the illusion.
While many sequences are clearly shot on a sound stage, the beautiful outdoors photography in Todd-AO adds so much to the spectacle. When I saw the recent tape of a British stage play of this, it had no where near the impact and this was one of the reasons.
Another was the casting, which was dead-on perfect. Gordon McRae is the picture of the singing cowboy, (which was not a Hollywood invention). He more than holds his own with Rod Steiger, a year after Steiger was holding his won with Brando. Shirley Jones is the image of Laurie. She has all the physical endowments of a Marilyn Monroe but with the added qualities of sweetness and intelligence that make her marvelously sexy and appealing. Steiger gives the piece dramatic weight. He also shows surprising singing ability, (this site says he had an operatic voice but no sense of key), Gloria Grahame is the ideal Ado Annie. I saw a clip of Celeste Holm, of whom I am a big fan, doing `I Can't Say No' on the Ed Sullivan show. She doesn't hold a candle to Grahame, who underplays the lines but has the sex coming out of her eyes, right along with the innocence. Gene Nelson is a wonderfully easy going dancing cowpoke and his songs with Ado Annie have unending charm. Charlotte Greenwood is a wonder as Aunt Eller, all arms and legs and home spun philosophy. James Whitmore makes a meal of shotgun toting Dad. Eddie Albert has one of his best roles as Ali Hakim. It's hard to imagine anyone being better in these roles.
Of course, Roger's and Hammerstein's music and lyrics are timeless. The title tune, `Oh What Beautiful Morning `, `Surrey With the Fringe on Top', `People Will Say We're in Love', `Everything's Up-to-Date in Kansas City', `I can't Say No', and the others keep playing in your memory long after you've heard them.
But that story, (you can't really call it a plot). Have you ever seen a musical like it?
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