Movie Review: Oklahoma!

I could’ve sworn I saw this as a kid but after watching it last weekend I was mistaken. I have the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie 3-pack with this, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. With all of them over two hours, I figured I needed to start somewhere and picked this movie, knowing that I would take advantage of the intermission when it came time.

I can handle musicals just fine. With this particular one, I was a bit reluctant to watch it because of how perky it looked; too perky. Everything would turn out fine in the end anyways so the movie played out as just a fictionalized documentation of a small part of the early 1900’s Oklahoma Territory. As such, I could not relate to the characters as well as I would have liked.

Basically, there’s a dance one night and love does some interesting things among the cast. All’s well that ends well, for the most part.

One of the slowest parts of the film is the musical number “I Can’t Say No.” I looked at everything else off-screen instead of the singer because the camera shot focused on her for so long. I grew restless and kept checking the clock because the poor actress could not carry this song. If it was part of her character, I’d be fine with it but something tells me this was the real deal. The composition of the shot is very static and boring to look at; very boring.

What makes the shot’s composition so boring partly lies in how it was filmed. This was the first film photographed in Todd-AO 70 mm widescreen. By showing so much of the frame, it allows our eye to process and analyze more of the composition. But with something like this song, all you see is the singer in the center of the frame with very little else to look at. Seeing as how the film’s location is out in the country, there are not a lot of landmarks or elevated land. I would have liked a few more reaction shots of the other girl inbetween the prolonged shots.

There were two highlights in the film and both of them deal with Jud. The first of the two is the song “Pore Jud is Daid.” With this song, the shot’s duration is very long but the composition is much more interesting to look at. The actors were able to sing and tell a story at the same time. The claustrophobic surroundings purposefully directed the focus toward the singers. The second highlight is when Jud sets fire to the haystack. At that point, I was cheering for him but, alas, it was futile.

It’s not necessarily a bad or poorly executed musical as the duo had a significant part in making sure their musical was adapted to the screen as they intended. At the same time, I don’t think this film was a strong choice for the 1001 update. I’m not sure how I’ll do with The Sound of Music but that will have to wait for another day.

5/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

Winner of Best Music Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording

 

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3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Oklahoma!

  1. This film basically replaced another big 1950s musical in the list – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

    I liked the songs in this one, as well as the dark undercurrent. LIke you, I had some sympathy for Jud, although not for his actions at the end.

      • Well, if you dislike musicals in general, then no. Both are big, let’s put on a hell of a show kind of musicals. They are filled with bright colors, lots of songs you will recognize, and big dance numbers. Seven Brides does fail some political correctness tests now. Other than that I would call them pretty similar.

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