An ex-husband and wife team star in a musical version of 'The Taming of the Shrew'; off-stage, the production is troublesome with ex-lovers' quarrels and a gangster looking for some money owed to them.
Matchmaker Dolly Levi travels to Yonkers to find a partner for "half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder, convincing his niece, his niece's intended, and his two clerks to travel to New York City along the way.
In the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the twentieth century, two young cowboys vie with a violent ranch hand and a traveling peddler for the hearts of the women they love.Written by
Scott Lane <email@example.com>
In the opening scene, the house set is on flat ground with trees in the yard. In the closing shots, the house is up on a hill with no trees. See more »
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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Theatrical versions -- The Todd-AO 70mm version and the CinemaScope 35mm version are completely different, with different opening credits, each scene being shot twice and with different sound mixes. In the Todd-AO version, the titles appear against a black background; then, the black background fades out to reveal two rows of giant cornstalks, through which the camera tracks, until it finds Gordon MacRae singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin". In the CinemaScope version, we first see the cornstalks, the camera tracks through them; then, as the words "Rodgers and Hammerstein present" appear on-screen, Gordon MacRae appears and rides up to the camera and then past it off left, as the title "Oklahoma!" appears. The rest of the opening credits in this version are shown against, first, a background of a barn, then, a meadow with a tree nearby. As the credits end, the camera cuts back to MacRae and he begins singing. At the end of the Todd-AO version, we see the words "Distributed by Magna". At the end of the CinemaScope version, we see the words "Distributed by RKO Pictures". See more »
The stage-to-screen musical became an institution during the 1950s, one that would reach its peak in the mid-1960s and then quickly decline. Within the industry, I wonder if a certain prestige attached itself to established directors who could create good musicals, because many a veteran director tried his hand at it. Between 1955 and 1970, directors like Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Robert Wise, George Cukor and Carol Reed, none of them known as musical directors, would make some of the best-known and best-loved screen musicals of all time. Fred Zinneman tossed his hat into the ring with "Oklahoma!"
And, as it happens, made a pretty good job of it. Many a film director struggled with how to open up stage-bound material for the screen. Some didn't try (George Cukor in "My Fair Lady") and some improved on the original material through doing so (Robert Wise in "The Sound of Music"). Zinneman's efforts fall somewhere in between. The vast landscapes that serve as a background for his film contribute a realism that the stage version could never capture, but Zinneman doesn't always know what to do with the space he's given, and his transitions from scene to scene (that would have been covered up on stage through extra business and music) suffer from clunkiness. The score sounds remarkable, and those involved knew well enough to leave the original songs mostly intact.
Where "Oklahoma!" surpasses other film musicals is in its wonderful cast. Gordon MacRae could play a signing cowboy without making him twerpy. Shirley Jones could convince you with her soprano warble that she was an innocent country girl. Rod Steiger is almost too good for the material as the psycho Jud Fry. James Whitmore, Eddie Albert and Charlotte Greenwood have priceless little bits that they make the most of. And Gene Nelson and Gloria Grahame steal scene after scene, making you almost wish the movie was about them.
Most importantly, Zinneman knew how to stage a musical number and effectively capture dance on film, which is something Mankiewicz, whose "Guys and Dolls" came out in the same year, did not.
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