Oklahoma! is a 1955 American musical film based on Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1943 musical of the same name, which was based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play Green Grow The Lilacs. Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones- in her film debut, Rod Steiger, Charlotte Greenwood, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, James Whitmore, and Eddie Albert are among the cast members. Fred Zinnemann directed only one musical in his career.
It relates the story of farm girl Laurey Williams (Jones) and her courting by two competing suitors, cowboy Curly McLain (MacRae), the Menacing and Scary Farmhand Jud Fry, set in Oklahoma Territory (Steiger). Ado Annie (Grahame), Laurey’s companion, and cowboy Will Parker (Nelson), who also has an unwilling opponent, are involved in a parallel romance. A recurring topic is the territory’s desire for statehood, as well as the local strife between cattlemen and farmers.
The New York Times gave the film five stars and named it a “New York Times Critics Pick” It received Academy Awards for musical score and sound recording. The Library of Congress designated Oklahoma! for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 2007.
Curly McLain, a good-natured cowboy, enjoys the lovely morning while riding his horse to the property of Laurey Williams, his hidden love, and her aunt, Aunt Eller. He invites Laurey to a box party being given that night to collect funds for a new schoolhouse at the property. Laurey declines his offer, frustrated that he waited so long to approach her. Curly entices her by describing the surrey he promises to drive her in, then tells her he made up the scenario to retaliate for her refusal. Laurey exacts her vengeance by consenting to accompany their threatening field hand, Jud Fry.
Cowboy Will Parker returns by rail from a trip to Kansas City, looking for his sweetheart, Ado Annie, who has grown captivated with itinerant merchant Ali Hakim in Will’s absence. Will informs Annie that he has earned the $50 that her father, a farmer who dislikes cowboys, told him he had to earn before marrying Annie, but that he spent it all on gifts for her. Annie tries to resist Will, but ultimately succumbs, leaving her split between Will and Ali.
The folks congregate at Aunt Eller’s farm to refuel before the box social. Laurey is irritated when Gertie, a flirty lady with a loud, unpleasant laugh, flirts with Curly, despite her pledges not to let his games affect her, and Curly flirts back to make Laurey jealous. Curly asks Laurey again if she wants to go to the social with him, but she rejects again, scared of Jud. Curly approaches Jud aggressively in the smokehouse, prompting both men to fire their weapons. Curly stalks away, and Jud threatens Laurey once more if she changes her mind. Unsure what to do, Laurey turns to a bottle of smelling salts she purchased from Ali earlier in the day, expecting to discover her answer in a dream. She fantasizes of marrying Curly, but jud eventually kills him.
Curly and Laurey marry a few weeks later. Jud arrives after the wedding and attempts to assassinate Curly, but Curly kills Jud in self-defense. Curly is judged not guilty during an impromptu trial in Aunt Eller’s kitchen. He and Laurey depart for their honeymoon, relishing the lovely morning.
Release Date of the Movie-
Beginning on October 11, 1955, Magna sponsored exclusive screenings of Oklahoma! at the Rivoli theatre in New York City for three days. On October 13, the film’s formal public debut took place.
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The picture was exhibited in New York on a two-a-day reserved seat basis, with three shows on weekends and holidays, and made $573,493 in its first 12 weeks.
The picture premiered on the same roadshow premise on November 18 at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, and subsequently on December 26 at the McVicker’s Theater in Chicago.
Where to Watch?
Following The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, it was announced in 2021 that the film will be available on Disney+ beginning April 30, 2021. On the app, the Todd-AO version was utilized. In 2022, it was reported that the film will be available on the Criterion Channel beginning in January 2023.
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