DIRECTED BY FRED ZINNEMANN
PRODUCED BY ARTHUR HORNBLOWER Jr.
OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II/ RICHARD ROGERS
MAGNA THEATRE CORPORATION
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN PICTURES
RKO RADIO PICTURES/ TWENTIETH CENURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Information from IMDb
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
Gordon MacRae ... Curly McLain
Gloria Grahame ... Ado Annie Carnes
Gene Nelson ... Will Parker
Charlotte Greenwood ... Aunt Eller
Shirley Jones ... Laurey Williams
Eddie Albert ... Ali Hakim
James Whitmore ... Mr. Carnes
Rod Steiger ... Jud Fry
Barbara Lawrence ... Gertie Cummings
Jay C. Flippen ... Skidmore
Roy Barcroft ... Marshal
James Mitchell ... Dream Curly / Dancer
Bambi Linn ... Dream Laurey / Dancer
Jennie Workman ... Dancer
Virginia Bosler ... Dancer
Kelly Brown ... Dancer
Evelyn Taylor ... Dancer
Lizanne Truex ... Dancer
Jane Fischer ... Dancer
Marc Platt ... Dancer
Jerry Dealey ... Dancer (uncredited)
Al Ferguson ... Cowboy at Auction (uncredited)
Ben Johnson ... Wrangler (uncredited)
Donald Kerr ... Farmer at Dance (uncredited)
Nancy Kilgas ... Dancer (uncredited)
Rory Mallinson ... Young Cowboy at Box Lunch Auction (uncredited)
Buddy Roosevelt ... Cowboy at Auction (uncredited)
Russell Simpson ... The Minister (uncredited)
Dolores Starr ... Dancer (uncredited)
Sonya Levien (screen play) and
William Ludwig (screen play)
Lynn Riggs (based upon a dramatic play by)
This is the first Todd-AO production and the first of three such productions to be shot twice, first at 24 fps (to produce the general-release version in 35 mm) and finally at 30 fps (to produce the roadshow version in 70 mm). The 35 mm version is presented in CinemaScope; the 70 mm version is presented in Todd-AO.
Shot on location in and around Sonoita, Arizona, because the real Oklahoma in 1955 was so heavily farmed and developed that few suitable areas could be found that resembled the highly-rural and undeveloped Oklahoma of the turn of the century when the musical is set.
This was Fred Zinnemann's first musical, and it cost a then-astronomical $6.8 million.
The song "Lonely Room" (sung by Jud) was omitted from the film. In the song, Jud explains his bitter resentments and deep frustrations. Possibly this was considered too strong for 1955 film-goers.
Based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, a part-Cherokee playwright born in Oklahoma.
The general release version, shot in CinemaScope, is the one that played most theatres throughout the USA. This version was not released until late 1956, after the first-run Todd-AO version had played New York for more than a year and after the film versions of two other Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II stage musicals, "Carousel" and "The King and I", had already been released throughout the United States.
The song "Kansas City" was edited for censors. Will sang it, "I could swear that she was padded from her shoulders to her heel. And then she started dancing and her dancing made me feel that every single thing she had was absolutely real." In the original play script it went, "I could swear that she was padded from her shoulders to her heels. And later in the second act when she began to peel. She proved that everything she had was absolutely real."
Although James Mitchell and Bambi Linn danced the parts of Curly and Laury in the Dream Ballet, Rod Steiger did his own dancing in that sequence because there was no one who looked enough like him from the back. Despite his initial uncertainties, and after considerable coaching from choreographer Agnes de Mille, Steiger actually did a credible job, later calling it one of the biggest challenges he ever had.
James Mitchell was working on The Prodigal at the same time as the dream ballet.
The world premiere was preceded by a parade of fringed surreys, led by then-Oklahoma Gov. Raymond Gary (1908-1993, governor 1955-1959), which made its way from the St. James Theater, where the stage version of "Oklahoma" had opened 12 years earlier, to the Rivoli Theater for the film premiere. There, standing atop a carpet of transplanted Oklahoma soil, Gov. Gary helped raise the Oklahoma state flag from the theater staff and officially proclaimed the Rivoli to be Oklahoma territory.
The original Broadway production of "Oklahoma!" opened at the St. James Theater in New York City on May 31, 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances, setting a record for a musical.
The musical that this film is based on was originally entitled "Away We Go!" The title was changed to "Oklahoma!" after the popularity of that song with the play's initial audiences. It was the first Broadway musical in which every single song had a direct relation to the plot, and in which there were none that were simply musical interludes. (Even "Show Boat", which actually is the first Broadway musical in which most of the songs have a direct relation to the plot, originally had one or two numbers which were simply thrown in so that something could be going on while the scenery was being changed, or even to suit certain cast members who perforned "specialties" in the original 1927 production. These specialties were deleted from later productions of "Show Boat".)
The film's soundtrack album became one of the most successful movie albums ever released, more successful than the 1943 original Broadway cast album of "Oklahoma!", although the Broadway production was the biggest stage hit of its time, and for many years after. The film soundtrack album continues to be a popular seller even to this day.
The song "It's a Scandal! It's a Outrage!" was omitted from the film. It was sung by Ali Hakim and the Male Chorus, and they expressed their "outrage" at "fathers with shotguns" in the song.
Nogales, Arizona, was declared an honorary part of Oklahoma for the period of shooting, by the governor.
Finding "corn as high as an elephant's eye" proved to be quite a challenge. Since filming was to take place out of season, no tall cornfields were to be found anywhere. The job was given to the people of the University of Arizona Agricultural Department, who planted each stalk in individual containers and held their breath. With rain and good luck, the corn grew to a height of 16 feet, causing Oscar Hammerstein to quip: "The corn is now as high as the eye of an elephant on top of another elephant."
Eli Wallach was at one point suggested for the role of Jud Fry, as was Marlon Brando.
Joanne Woodward was considered for the role of Laurey Williams.
Filmed in both CinemaScope and Todd-AO. When both films are seen together, subtle differences may be discerned in such areas as line readings and overall pacing.
In the Todd-AO version of the movie, there is more picture visible in the periphery than in the CinemaScope version. While the peripheral picture on each side of the main action is very detailed, it is visibly distorted at times when there is physical action such as movement on the periphery in long-shots.
Betty Hutton turned down the role of Ado Annie, a role that could have revived her screen career. She instead chose to do a TV special called Satins and Spurs.
In Sheila MacRae's autobiographical book "Hollywood Mother of the Year" in her chapter titled, "Curly, Billy, and Me", she revealed that Gordon MacRae had very few waves in his hair. This posed a problem since he would be playing a man who got his nickname from his curly locks. Movie hairdressers tried to fix it but Oscar Hammerstein was unhappy with the results and suggested that Gordon get a permanent. Gordon refused but instead agreed to allow his wife Sheila to finger-curl his hair each morning so his character's name, Curly, was believable.
Tone deaf, Gloria Grahame, who played Ado Annie, sang without dubbing, which required that her songs to be edited together from recordings made almost literally note by note.
Marc Platt and Bambi Linn are the only cast members from the original Broadway stage production to appear in the film, but they do not perform their original stage roles.
Shirley Jones' film debut.
The two teens infatuated with Will Parker were an invention of director Fred Zinnemann and choreographer Agnes de Mille. Lizanne Truex (blonde) and Jane Fischer (brunette) were originally slated to appear only in the "Kansas City" routine. Zinneman and de Mille liked the girls' work so much that they decided to add them - and their characters "The Goon Girls" - to the entire film. Zinnemann wanted the part of "Ado Annie" to be played comically, but Gloria Grahame kept putting a sexy twist to the part, so he told the "Goon Girls" that he would use them more extensively as comic relief to compensate for Ms. Grahame's interpretation. They appeared in every dance scene and had more screen time than some of the co-stars. Since the girls were going to have so much exposure, there was some discussion as to what to call them. Zinnemann said that because they were always "gooning" (fooling) around, they should be called "Goon Girls", and the epithet was born. Truex also had three one-liners, somewhat unusual for ensemble dancers. While waiting for the film to be released, she joined the European tour of the stage version of "Oklahoma!" which starred Shirley Jones and her then-husband, Jack Cassidy. In this tour, Ms. Truex played the role of "The Girl Who Falls Down," performed in the film by Virginia Bosler.
The ending scene in the "Kansas City" routine proved to be rewarding for the "Goon Girls" (Lizanne Truex and Jane Fischer). Jumping off a moving train into the arms of the waiting cowboys entailed perfect timing. Just before the first take, a union representative called for an "adjustment", which turned out to be an additional $250 for each jump because of the hazard. Seven takes later, director Fred Zinnemann was satisfied, leading Lizanne Truex to remark that they must remember to call "Adjustment!" more often as she had a 1951 Ford to pay off.
The poignant scene in "Many a New Day", where the blonde "Goon Girl" Lizanne Truex rests her head on the shoulder of Shirley Jones, came on the 43rd take. Director Fred Zinnemann was unhappy with the way the girls gathered around Ms. Jones, and he came up with this idea.
When asked about her distinctive haircut in the film, Lizanne Truex said that because of the innocent tomboyish behavior of her "Goon Girl" character, the studio hair stylist changed her "Pixie Cut" to a "Bowl Cut" - "Like the little kids of the period were given." During the filming, she was primping before a mirror backstage, bemoaning the results, with Jane Fischer looking on. Director Fred Zinnemann included that charming vignette in the "Many a New Day" dance routine at the suggestion of Agnes de Mille, who happened to see the incident and liked what she saw.
The interiors were shot at MGM in autumn of 1954, the first time that an outside production company not releasing through MGM was allowed to film a feature there.
Michael Todd had seen Shirley Jones in a touring performance of Oklahoma and suggested she be cast as Laurey for the film version.
Allene Roberts auditioned for the role of Laurey Williams.
The 1970 USTV premiere of this film was on CBS and hosted by the cast of the network's popular series "Family Affair": Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot, Anissa Jones, Johnnie Whitaker, and Cathy Garver. Presented in character, the wrap-arounds involved the fictional Davis family viewing and commenting on the film.
In her autobiography 'Playing the Field', Mamie Van Doren recalls her campaign to play Ado Annie. Van Doren claims one of the reasons she lost the part was that her acting coach, who happened to be Gloria Grahame's mother, mentioned Van Doren's interest in the part to her daughter; Grahame suddenly became interested in playing the part herself, launching a campaign of her own to win the part--which she did.
The movie was purposely filmed with very little camera movement, and editing, to give it the Broadway feel. (Actors occasionally stumble over a line like on stage.)
Robert Stack, Piper Laurie, Lee Marvin, Vic Damone, Dale Robertson and Joan Evans were all screen tested for various roles.
James Whitmore played Gloria Grahame's father, despite being only two years older than her.
When Laurey is singing "Many a New Day" in the bedroom, she puts her arms above her head. When she turns she is still singing but her mouth doesn't move.
Laurie greets the female dancers on the porch in one shot and in the next shot they are shown just getting out of their buggies and carriages.
In the scene near the end when people are bidding on the picnic baskets, when Curly makes the highest bid, Aunt Eller bangs the gavel SO hard that it breaks, to much laughter. it is fully intact in the next shot.
When Laurie walks into her house when the crowd arrives before going to the Skidmore party, she hears the two girls talking about Curley. One girl's hair is in a long ponytail. The camera pans around the room, and when it goes back to Laurie and the two girls, the girl's hair is no longer in a ponytail.
In the early scenes at Aunt Eller's, the corn disappears and reappears between shots.
At the train station, Will Parker gets off the train and gives Aunt Eller a white box of something. Aunt Eller sits down on a bench and the camera shows her from the back, looking at Will. He says something like "let me show you guys something", to his other cowboy friends and starts to walk toward them. Aunt Eller puts the white box on the bench to her left and starts to stand up. In the shot immediately following, now showing the front of Aunt Eller, she puts the white box to her left and stands up again in the exact same way she did before.
When Jud wakes Laurey from her dream sequence, to tell her it's time to go to the party, night has fallen and it's dark. She goes inside to change. In the next scene, they're heading off to the party with everyone else, in broad daylight.
In the final "Oklahoma!" scene, everyone is gathered round outside Aunt Eller's house,with Curley and Laurie singing. Will Parker and Ado Annie slip in at the back but then they suddenly disappear and nobody notices.
Crew or equipment visible
When Will Parker is giving Ado Annie the "Oklahoma Hello," you can see a camera shadow as it pushes in on their kiss.
In the beginning of the song "Oklahoma!" there's what appear to be a camera and camera operator shadow on Curly and Laurey as they sing "Brand New State."
Errors in geography
There are no mountains visible near Catoosa.
When the words "The End" appear a square section of the sky/clouds directly behind "The" suddenly moves upward.
Amado, Arizona, USA
("Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'")
Elgin, Arizona, USA
(train station musical number scene)
Green Cattle Co. Ranch, San Raphael Valley, Arizona, USA
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios - 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
Nogales, Arizona, USA
San Rafael Ranch State Park, Patagonia, Arizona, USA
(Greene Cattle Co. Ranch, San Rafael Valley, Arizona)
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