AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
Release Date:   1955
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 11 Oct 1955; Los Angeles premiere: 17 Nov 1955; Chicago opening: 26 Dec 1955
Production Date:   14 Jul --7 Sep 1954 on location in Arizona, 8 Sep--6 Dec 1954 at M-G-M Studios
Duration (in mins):   145 or 147
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Gordon MacRae (Curly)  
    Gloria Grahame (Ado Annie [Carnes])  
    Gene Nelson (Will Parker)  
    Charlotte Greenwood (Aunt Eller)  
  and introducing Shirley Jones (Laurey [Williams])  
    Eddie Albert (Ali Hakim)  
    James Whitmore (Mr. [Andrew] Carnes)  
    Rod Steiger (Jud Fry)  
    Barbara Lawrence (Gertie [Cummings])  
    Jay C. Flippen (Skidmore)  
    Roy Barcroft (Marshal [Cord Elam])  
    James Mitchell (Dream Curly)  
    Bambi Linn (Dream Laurey)  
  The Dancers: Jennie Workman    
    Virginia Bosler    
    Kelly Brown    
    Evelyn Taylor    
    Lizanne Truex    
    Jane Fischer    
    Marc Platt    
    Charlene Baker (Dancer)  

Summary: In Claremore, Oklahoma, in the early 1900s, cowboy Curly enjoys his morning horseback ride along a corn field belonging to Aunt Eller and her niece, Laurey Williams. When Curly arrives at their farmhouse, he presumes that Laurey will accept his invitation to the box social dance that night, so he asks Aunt Eller to join them. However, Laurey pretends to be uninterested and teases Curly that he has no appropriate transportation. Curly tries to entice Laurey by describing a surrey with silk fringe and red wheels that would be pulled by a team of snow-white horses. Laurey is so enamored with Curly’s imaginary surrey that she becomes frustrated when his description concludes, and instead accepts the invitation of her surly farmhand, Jud Fry. Curly is offended, but still intends to take Aunt Eller. Later, Laurey privately admits to Aunt Eller that she would prefer Curly’s company, but Jud refuses to let her out of her commitment. Aunt Eller then goes to the train station to meet Will Parker, a local cowboy returning by train from Kansas City with paper lanterns for the party. Will is elated because he has earned enough money in the city to marry his sweetheart, Ado Annie Carnes, whose father insists that any suitor possess at least fifty dollars. Will displays a risqué kaleidoscope purchased as a gift for Ado Annie’s father, and then regales Aunt Eller and his friends with tales of the modern conveniences he experienced in the city, including telephones, indoor privies and gas-powered buggies. Ado Annie, meanwhile, has joined traveling salesman Ali Hakim on his wagon, and they stop to visit Laurey at the bathing pond. Ado Annie confesses to being an unrepentant flirt and that she has fallen in love Ali. Ali later succeeds in selling a bottle of exotic-sounding smelling salts to Laurey with the guarantee that they will help her make decisions. When Ado Annie learns that Ali is not interested in marriage moments before Will rides up and announces his intention to marry her, she is unable to resist Will’s affection. Just then, dozens of buggies arrive with partygoers who are stopping at the farm for a respite from the road. Among them are Curly and his red-haired date, Gertie Cummings. When Laurey hears Gertie’s horse-like laugh, she dramatically assures her friends that she is not jealous, but she still sheds a tear. When Ado Annie tells her father, Andrew Carnes, that Will has spent his earnings on gifts for her, Andrew cancels the engagement. A traditionalist, Andrew then insists that Ali marry Ado Annie after she reveals that the salesman has made romantic overtures. However, Andrew must aim the barrel of his shotgun at Ali to convince him. Laurey is too distracted by Gertie’s presence to acknowledge Ado Annie’s news of her engagement. Instead, Laurey picks a fight with Gertie over the merits of their respective gooseberry tarts. After Aunt Eller breaks them up, Laurey lingers in the peach orchard with Curly. They affectionately argue about who is in love with whom, and muse that they are the subject of rumors. Their romantic idyll ends when Laurey reluctantly admits that she cannot get out of her date with Jud. Curly then goes to see Jud in the smokehouse. Having assessed Jud as self-pitying and potentially dangerous, Curly uses subtle sarcasm to prod the vulnerable farmhand by imagining aloud how townfolk might mourn Jud’s death. Jud suffers from feelings of class distinction, and explains that if he is wronged, he may take the lesson of another spurned hired hand who killed his faithless lover and her family by burning down their house. Despite a further warning from Jud, Curly declares his romantic intentions toward Laurey, and urges Jud to reform his unhealthy lifestyle. After an enraged Jud fires a warning gunshot into the ceiling, Curly proves his own marksmanship by shooting out a knothole in the cabin wall. The sound of gunfire draws a crowd that is dispersed by Aunt Eller after she ensures that the men are unharmed. Afterward, Laurey hears Jud shout that she had better not change her mind. Jud then attempts to buy a kaleidoscope with a hidden switchblade from Ali, but the concerned peddler has none in stock. After everyone leaves, Laurey feels torn between the two men. She sits in a rocking chair on the porch and takes a whiff of her smelling salts, then asks the elixir to help her decide between the two men. Laurey then closes her eyes and dreams: Laurey and Curly’s romance leads to a wedding, but when her veil is lifted, she is horrified to discover that she has married Jud rather than Curly. Laurey berates herself and tries to embrace Curly, but he withdraws from her. Laurey then attempts to flee from Jud, but finds only a saloon filled with menacing dancehall women. Laurey is trapped there and, after being forced into Jud’s arms, is then compelled to dance with the women. She soon escapes outside into a storm where she is rescued by Curly, who shoots Jud repeatedly. Instead of dying, an unharmed and powerful Jud attacks Curly and strangles him. Curly dies as a tornado touches ground nearby, and Jud carries Laurey away. Laurey awakens and is startled to discover Jud in front of her, telling her it is time to leave. [An Intermission divides the story at this point.] As the rest of the wagons head for the party, Jud lingers behind and confesses to Laurey his obsession with her. Laurey pulls away when he tries to embrace her, then grabs the reins and incites the horses to bolt. The horses run out of control for miles until a train frightens them. Jud calms the animals, but Laurey again grabs the reins and rides away without him. Everyone else is already at the party, which is hosted by the Skidmores. A brawl breaks out between the farmers and the ranchers and cowboys, who have been battling for land in the territory, but the fight abruptly ends when Aunt Eller fires a shot into the air. After the dance, Aunt Eller begins a charity auction for dinner baskets, the proceeds of which will benefit the school. Laurey arrives and is the last person to donate her basket. Will, meanwhile, confronts Ali, who conceives of a plan to get out of his engagement to Ado Annie by buying the gifts Will bought her, thereby replenishing Will’s engagement fund. An angry Jud arrives moments later on foot and adds to Will’s total by buying the kaleidoscope, which, unknown to Will, contains a switchblade. The auction winds down moments later to the hampers belonging to Ado Annie and Laurey. Will heedlessly bids all he has on Ado Annie’s basket, forgetting that this will again ruin his chances of marrying her, but a desperate Ali saves him by outbidding him. Laurey’s basket is the final item, and Jud outbids everyone by two-bits. He and Curly then get into a fierce bidding war during which Curly sells his saddle, his horse and his gun in order to beat Jud. After several tense moments, Aunt Eller declares that Curly is the victor. Jud then draws Curly aside to show him the kaleidoscope, intending to murder him. However, Ali sees what he is doing and warns Aunt Eller, who then purposely distracts Curly. While Will and Ado Annie wrestle with the concept of fidelity, Jud confronts Laurey and accuses her of snobbery. When she fires him, he warns her that she will never be rid of him. Later, Laurey admits to Curly that Jud has frightened her, and he promises to protect her. Curly then proposes marriage and Laurey accepts. Always the dreamer, Curly envisions starting a family as the Oklahoma territory earns its statehood. Will finally convinces Ado Annie to marry him by out-kissing her in front of Ali, whose kisses before his departure very nearly stole her heart again. Curly soon herds cattle for the last time before becoming a farmer, and he and Laurey marry. While Laurey and Curly pack for their honeymoon, Ali returns with Gertie, who announces that they too are newlyweds. Ali privately admits to Ado Annie that he only married Gertie after her father threatened him. As part of the wedding party’s celebratory shivaree, Curly and Laurey stand atop a haystack while their friends toss up dolls as emblems of their future family. When a vengeful Jud sets fire to the haystack, Laurey and Curly are forced to jump off to save their lives. Curly purposely lands on top of Jud, and accidentally kills him when Jud falls on his own knife. Since the entire town is present, including Cord Elam, the local federal marshal, and Andrew, who is the local judge, Aunt Eller demands an immediate trial. Andrew finds Curly not guilty by reason of self-defense. Thereby cleared, Curly and Laurey leave for their honeymoon in a beautiful fringed surrey. 

Production Company: Rodgers & Hammerstein Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Magna Theatre Corp.  
  RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
  Arthur Black Jr. (Asst dir)
  Eddie Mull (Asst dir)
  Howard Joslin (Asst dir)
  Russell Haverick (Asst dir)
  Milt Carter (Asst dir)
  James Havens (2d unit dir)
Producer: Arthur Hornblow Jr. (Prod)
  Barney Briskin (Prod exec)
Writer: Sonya Levien (Scr)
  William Ludwig (Scr)
Photography: Robert Surtees (Dir of photog)
  William C. Mellor (Temporary dir of photog)
  Schuyler A. Sanford (Todd-AO tech)
  Floyd Crosby (2d unit photog)
  Marty Creel (Still cam)
  Al St. Hilaire (2d unit still cam)
Art Direction: Oliver Smith (Prod des)
  Joseph Wright (Art dir)
Film Editor: Gene Ruggiero (Film ed)
  George Boemler (Film ed)
  Don Tomlinson (Asst ed)
  Howard Epstein (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Keogh Gleason (Set dec)
Costumes: Orry Kelly (Cost)
  Motley (Cost)
  Frank Beetson (Ward)
  Ann Peck (Ward)
Music: Jay Blackton (Mus cond and supv)
  Robert Russell Bennett (Mus arr)
  Adolph Deutsch (Background mus adpt and cond)
  Robert Helfer (Mus coord)
  Ralph Avseev (Mus ed)
Sound: Fred Hynes (Rec supv)
  Joe Edmundson (Sd mixer)
  Milo Lory (Sd ed)
  John Logan (Sd ed)
  John Lipow (Sd ed)
  Kendrick Kinney (Sd ed)
Special Effects: Paul Morrell (Opt eff)
  Larry Glickman (Title Des)
  Pacific Title & Art Studio (Title des)
Dance: Agnes de Mille (Dances staged by)
Make Up: Ben Lane (Makeup)
  Don Roberson (Makeup)
  Annabell (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: John Fearnley (Prod aide)
  William Maybery (Casting dir)
  Jack Friedkin (Casting)
  Ted Stanhope (Casting)
  Percy Ikerd (Prod mgr)
  John C. Dutton (Scr supv)
  Ralph Leo (Loc auditor)
  Tom Woods (Unit pub)
Color Personnel: Alvord Eiseman (Col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Overture," "Dream Ballet" and "Entr'acte" by Richard Rodgers.
Songs: "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Kansas City," "I Cain't Say No," "Many a New Day," "Pore Jud Is Daid," "Out of My Dreams," "The Farmer and the Cowman," "All Er Nothin'," "Oklahoma!" and "People Will Say We're in Love," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
Composer: Oscar Hammerstein II
  Richard Rodgers
Source Text: Based on the musical Oklahoma! , music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, originally produced on the stage by The Theatre Guild (New York, 31 Mar 1943), which was based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs (New York, 26 Jan 1931).
Authors: Lynn Riggs
  Oscar Hammerstein II
  Richard Rodgers

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Rodgers & Hammerstein Pictures, Inc. 13/10/1955 dd/mm/yyyy LP5413

PCA NO: 17398
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Sound Recording; Westrex; Orthosonic
  col: Technicolor; Eastman Color
  Widescreen/ratio: Todd-AO; CinemaScope
  gauge: 35mm and 70mm
  Lenses/Prints: CinemaScope lenses by Bausch & Lomb

Genre: Musical
Subjects (Major): Accidental death
  Attempted murder
  Claremore (OK)
  Class distinction
  Romantic rivalry
  Traveling salesmen
Subjects (Minor): Auctions
  Fathers and daughters
  Proposals (Marital)
  Statehood (American politics)
  Switchblade knives

Note: The original Broadway musical Oklahoma! opened on 31 Mar 1943, and had a record-setting run of five years on Broadway, closing on 29 May 1948. Hailed by critics as the preeminent American musical because it was the first to seamlessly combine dance, music and story, Oklahoma! also marked the first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who were awarded a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944 in recognition of their achievement. The 1943 musical was directed by renowned film and theatrical director Rouben Mamoulian, with choreography by Agnes De Mille, who subsequently choreographed the film. The opening night cast included Alfred Drake as “Curly,” Joan Roberts as “Laurey,” Howard Da Silva as “Jud Fry” and Celeste Holm as “Ado Annie Carnes.” Oklahoma! continued as a roadshow production for approximately ten years. The musical continues to be an American favorite: Its initial long run has been followed by three Broadway revivals to date, some of which were nominated for or won the American Theatre Wing Tony award (established in 1947). A highly successful London revival, produced by Trevor Nunn, opened in Jan 1999 before going to Broadway and being telecast on PBS on 22 Nov 2003. An article in the 29 Mar 2002 edition of Entertainment Weekly noted that the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization issued permission to 526 regional theaters for productions of Oklahoma! in 2001 alone.
       Although the film was shot in two different formats, the viewed print of the film was in CinemaScope. The opening title credits read: “Rodgers & Hammerstein present Oklahoma! , produced in Todd-AO, developed by The American Optical Company.” The dancers were individually listed in opening credits following the choreography credit for De Mille (whose surname was spelled onscreen as de Mille), under the title "The Dancers." Dancers James Mitchell and Bambi Linn were also listed in the end cast credits with their respective character names, “Dream Curly” and “Dream Laurey.” The song, "Out of My Dreams" segues into the "Dream Ballet," in which Mitchell and Linn are featured. The 1955 film featured all the musical’s original songs with the exception of “Jud’s” solo “Lonely Room” and "It's a Scandal, It's an Outrage!"
       According to various news items, purchase of the film rights to the musical play Oklahoma! was being negotiated as early as 1943, shortly after the play opened on Broadway. A 30 Apr 1943 NYT news item noted that Rodgers and Hammerstein were in discussion with The Theatre Guild about a film production with either United Artists or Columbia Pictures as distributors. In addition, HR reported on 29 Dec 1943 that Arthur Lyons of Producing Artists, Inc. was interested in buying the film rights. Although The Theatre Guild is not credited on the film, later news items indicate that The Theatre Guild sought an alliance with several of the potential early film productions. Among the interested parties in 1944 were producer David Lewis and actor James Cagney and his producer-brother William Cagney. Producer Harry Sherman also considered buying the property in 1944, with Mamoulian slated as the film’s director. Modern sources add that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer optioned the musical, but sold the property rights to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The NYT reported in a 27 Sep 1961 article that, when finally sold for the 1955 movie, the film rights cost over $1,000,000. However, a modern source contradicts some of this information and reports that Rodgers and Hammerstein purchased the film rights directly from The Theatre Guild for $850,000.
       HR news items reported that the film version was originally slated to be financed and distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox, using their lot for shooting as well. However, according to a 19 Jan 1954 HR news item, the production company, Magna Theatre Corp., which was formed to be the sole producer of films featuring Todd-AO, disagreed with some of Fox’s stipulations. As reported in the next day’s issue of HR , Joseph M. Schenck then took over the financing, and Magna chose to produce the film independently. The Jan 1954 news items noted that use of the Todd-AO process may have constituted a conflict of interest for Fox, which was affiliated with CinemaScope, and added that Warner Bros. also had a tentative interest in the production. A few months later, as noted in an article dated 25 Mar 1953, Schenck resigned from Twentieth Century-Fox and became chairman of Magna. Magna’s board of directors included George P. Skouras, Arthur Hornblow, Jr., as vice-president in charge of production, as well as Michael Todd, Lee Shubert, Edward Small, Rodgers and Hammerstein, among others. The Todd-AO Corp. was also created at the same time to distribute and lease the equipment manufactured by American Optical. Further news items in May 1954 reported that National Theatres invested $1,000,000 in the film production, and that American Optical invested another $500,000. In addition, United Artists Theatre Circuit invested over $1,000,000 in Magna Theatre Corp., whose first film was Oklahoma! .
       The information below derives from contemporary HR news items, unless noted otherwise. Oklahoma! features the first use of the Todd-AO widescreen process, which was conceived by producer Todd, in conjunction with scientist Dr. Brian O’Brien. Although Todd was not directly affiliated with the film production of Oklahoma! , his influence was instrumental in bringing the film version to fruition, as well as the Todd-AO process. “Todd-AO” represents a combination of Todd’s surname and the American Optical Company, which developed the panoramic “bug-eye” lens under O’Brien’s leadership, with Dr. Hopkins of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. In addition, as Box noted in a 15 Oct 1955 special section specifically about Oklahoma! , Westrex and Ampex created a six-channel sound system to complement Todd-AO. In late Mar 1953, the film Far West , then to be produced by Hornblow and directed by Edward Small, was reported to be the first production to use Todd-AO. However, Magna never released a film under that title, and it has not been determined if the property was ever produced under another title or by another entity.
       As opposed to competitors such as CinemaScope, Cinerama and VistaVision, which required multiple cameras and projectors, Todd-AO used a single wide-angle camera and one-strip 65mm negative film (the final print used 70mm film to accommodate the six sound tracks) and required a single projector to screen. The special “bug-eye” lens, which measured 128 degrees, enhanced the panoramic image. New cameras were constructed to accommodate the special lenses and larger film stock. The article in Box reported that Todd and cinematographer Schuyler A. Sanford shot the first test footage of the process, and screened it in Jun 1953 in Buffalo, New York. The article added that director Fred Zinnemann and cinematographer Harry Stradling then created more test footage, which was screened on 14 Aug 1953. Contemporary and modern sources affirm that the early test footage was screened for Rodgers and Hammerstein in New York, and that the producers then agreed to sell the film rights to Oklahoma! and use the Todd-AO process for the picture. Modern sources add that Todd had initially introduced the idea of Oklahoma! as the ideal Todd-AO debut production to Rodgers and Hammerstein several months before their test screening, which may have been produced specifically to sway them in favor of the film production. Rodgers and Hammerstein reportedly had long resisted a film version of their musical. Some contemporary sources indicate that they were waiting for the right vehicle to highlight the musical on film appropriately. In an article written by the producers-composers in Box , Rodgers and Hammerstein confirmed that they waited to sell the film rights because they felt proprietary about Oklahoma! , and because they wanted “…something that would make the motion picture Oklahoma! again a first in [their] experience.” Like their groundbreaking first theatrical production of Oklahoma! , the movie version was their first motion picture production. In the Box article they added that “…when we first saw a demonstration of the Todd-AO process we realized what we had been waiting for. Unconsciously we had been groping for some way to give our story the visual scope, the big outdoor feeling it needed.” Modern sources conjecture that they may have feared that a film production would reduce the audience attendance for the numerous ongoing roadshow productions of the play.
       Although an Apr 1954 HR news item noted that Oklahoma! might be shot simultaneously in VistaVision, CinemaScope was used instead. In his autobiography, director Zinnemann noted that using both Todd-AO and CinemaScope was a precautionary measure, as Todd-AO was still in the testing stages and only one bug-eye lens existed at the time. AmCin featured several technical articles about the new Todd-AO process, and noted in its Apr 1955 issue that simultaneous shooting with both cameras was used for only about ten scenes, because the width of the Todd-AO camera was prohibitive. Modern sources add that the bug-eye lens was used for just four scenes of the final film.
       According to a HR news item dated 9 Sep 1954, Consolidated Film Laboratories made 35mm reductions of the 65mm film for the standard prints. Oklahoma! was ultimately released in Todd-AO, CinemaScope and standard 35mm prints because few theaters could afford to retrofit for the Todd-AO projectors and extended, curved screens. Approximately forty American theatres were renovated to accommodate the larger curved screen necessary for Todd-AO, according to the 9 Sep 1954 news item. New York City’s Rivoli Theatre, for example, was renovated to introduce the new screen which, according to Box , measured “66 feet long along the arc, but only 50 feet wide along the chord, indicating the extent of the curvature.” With the screen and special equipment, the overall seating capacity was reduced by over 300 seats. Modern sources add that the Rivoli served as New York’s flagship theater for Todd-AO films for many years.
       HR news items noted the following information about the cast and crew: Singers were auditioned as early as Apr 1953, although Magna had not yet confirmed their purchase of the musical’s film rights. Actress Sharon Dexter auditioned for the role of “Ado Annie.” M-G-M, which rented its studio lot to an outside production company for the first time, also loaned the services of cinematographer Robert Surtees, film editor Gene Ruggiero, music editor Ralph Avseev and music coordinator Robert Helfer. In Aug 1954, makeup artist Don Roberson returned to Los Angeles from location shooting due to appendicitis. It is unclear whether Ben Lane, who is credited onscreen as the makeup artist, replaced Roberson or if Roberson was one of several makeup artists in the crew. According to a 12 Oct 1954 news item, cinematographer William C. Mellor temporarily replaced Surtees when the director of photography fell ill. In addition, an 11 Dec 1954 news item noted that location auditor Ralph Leo resigned to work on the Cinerama production Seven Wonders of the World (see below). A 29 Sep 1954 news item indicated that Hammerstein had intended to make his onscreen debut in this film, but withdrew because of a scheduling conflict.
       Various news items include the following actors in the cast: Gloria Moore, Allene Roberts, Norma LaRoche and Jeanne Wood. News items also add the following dancers to the cast: Randy Rayburn, Anne Morgan, Patricia Parvin, Raimonda Orselli, Charlyne Baker, Christy Peterson, Sheila Hackett, Nancy Kilgas, Cecile Rogers, Alicia Krug, Erin Martin, Dolores Starr, Sally Sorvo, Paul Olson, Maurice Kelly, Bill Chatham, Jerry Rush, Eddie Weston, Loren Hightower, Jerry Dealy, Bob Calder, Dick Landry, Bob Hanlin, Cary Leverette, Alex Rodin, Donna Pouget, Robert Cole, Fred Hansen and Sally Whalen. The actors’ and dancers’ appearances in the final film have not been confirmed. Although the pressbook for the film notes that Charlotte Greenwood appeared in the original Broadway production of the play, she was not listed in the opening night cast. Some modern sources indicate that the role of “Aunt Eller” was created for Greenwood, but that she never appeared in the Broadway production. Dancer Bambi Linn appeared in several roles in the original Broadway production. Modern sources add the following information about casting: James Dean was tested for the role of “Curly.” In his autobiography, Zinnemann recalled that Dean tested with a version of “Curly’s” song “Pore Jud.” Shirley Jones, who made her motion picture debut in this film, was discovered while performing in one of the many theatrical roadshow productions of the musical.
       Although producers initially intended to film Oklahoma! on location in that state, by 3 Aug 1953, a HR news item noted that they were leaning toward Ohio as a better location. In his autobiography, Zinnemann commented that Oklahoma had too many oil wells that would disrupt the skyline. A HR news item later in Aug 1953 noted that Hornblow and Zinnemann shot backgrounds and process shots in Claremore for use in the film. In Jul 1954, when Oklahoma’s then-Representative Victor Wickersham learned that the musical was to be filmed in Nogales, Arizona, rather than his state, he protested in writing to the producers, and publicly in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, location filming began in Jul on 1,000 acres in Nogales where, according to an 8 Jul 1954 news item, corn and wheat fields had been planted specifically for the production. The pressbook adds that the corn field was located on a farm in the small town of Amado, and that agricultural expert Edward B. Clark was hired to supervise the corn’s growth because the producers were forced to shorten the normal growing season. The pressbook also noted that the “Kansas City” dance scene was shot at a railroad station in Elgin. On 20 Aug 1954, HR followed up on their earlier report about Victor Wickersham and observed that the “feud” with the producers of Oklahoma! was apparently concluded, as then-Governor Johnston Murray was scheduled to visit the Nogales set. Box reported the total negative cost of the production as $6,800,000.
       As noted above, Oklahoma! was considered ground-breaking musical theater. The film version maintained the music and style of the new standard set by Rodgers, Hammerstein and De Mille, in which songs and dances achieved character development and often furthered the plot. De Mille’s choreography for the theatrical version, and later in the film, was lauded by critics as introducing a new era in musicals, and combined classical ballet techniques with modern dance. In the “Dream Ballet” sequence in the film, for example, during which Laurey dreams about an unintended marriage to Jud, Laurey’s disturbing dream leads her to conclude that Jud would be the wrong romantic choice for her. In this dance sequence, the characters Curly and Laurey are portrayed respectively by professional dancers Mitchell and Linn, rather than the lead actors MacRae and Jones. However, Rod Steiger continued to portray Jud in this sequence, despite the fact that he was not a trained dancer. Furthermore, neither Steiger nor actress Gloria Grahame were known to be singers, although they sang in the movie.
       A press and film industry preview of the Todd-AO process was held at M-G-M on 16 Aug 1955. An article in Har dated 3 Jul 1954 noted that the screening included footage of a roller coaster ride, and observed that it “…gave one a very noticeable feeling of audience participation.” The footage also included scenes of gondolas in Venice, Italy, a bullfight in Spain and footage from Oklahoma! . A modern source adds that this footage featured the film’s opening shot of “Curly” riding along the cornfield. A 15 Sep 1955 HR news item indicated that a 35mm print of the completed film was also screened at the National Theatres convention in Colorado Springs, CO. The world premiere of Oklahoma! , featuring the Todd-AO process, was held in New York City. According to an article dated 11 Oct 1955, some confusion occurred about which date was the official world premiere, as Magna held invitational screenings at the Rivoli Theatre over the course of three days. The article stated that Magna considered 13 Oct 1955 to be the official public premiere, despite the fact that the film already had been screened twice on two preceding days. Additional news items noted that the New York and Los Angeles premieres were sponsored by the state of Oklahoma, and attended by the state’s then newly-elected governor, Raymond Gary. Tickets for the special engagements of the Todd-AO version at the Rivoli carried a then-high price ranging from $1.75 to $3.50.
       There was no official national release date for Oklahoma! ; the premiere was followed by twice-daily roadshow screenings at theaters throughout the country. The MPHPD review declared that the “cinematic Oklahoma! is…big in beauty, big in conception and execution, magnificently big, bright and beautiful.” The Var review praised the film and noted that “ Oklahoma’s most valuable asset on the screen is the very same that cued its successful 10-year run on Broadway….That’s the music—which listens as fresh as a spring shower at each hearing even though heard over and over again.” While some reviewers appreciated that the broad movie screens for the Todd-AO prints were lacking the noticeable seams that appeared during Cinerama screenings, they did remark on flaws remaining in the Todd-AO images. According to the DV review, “…the finished picture evidences in number of instances some photographic ‘bugs’ inherent with any brand new camera and lens.” The NYT review noted that “…the generous expanse of screen is fetching, but the system has disconcerting flaws.” Nevertheless, the review continued that “…the flaws in mechanism do not begin to outweigh a superlative screen entertainment.”
       Magna distributed the Todd-AO version of the film, and RKO Radio Pictures distributed the CinemaScope version until 1956. Twentieth Century-Fox took over distribution of the film when RKO suffered financial setbacks (independent of this film). As reported in HR in Nov 1955, Todd sold his interest in Magna Theatre Corp. and Todd-AO Corp. following the film’s successful release, and retained a position as a consultant. Todd next produced Around the World in Eighty Days , which was the second film to feature the Todd-AO process (see above).
       Oklahoma! won Academy Awards for Best Sound Recording and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, and was nominated for color cinematography and film editing. The next Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to be converted to film was Twentieth Century-Fox’s 1956 feature Carousel (see above), in which MacRae and Jones co-starred. 

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Box Office   20 Aug 1955.   
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Hollywood Reporter   20 Apr 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Apr 1954   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Apr 1954   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 1954   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 May 1954   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   11 May 1954   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   14 May 1954   p. 1, 9.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jul 1954   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jul 1954   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jul 1954   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jul 1954   p. 6, 9.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 1954   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jul 1954   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jul 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Aug 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Aug 1954   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Aug 1954   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 1954   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Sep 1954   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Sep 1954   p. 2, 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Sep 1954   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Sep 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Sep 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Oct 1954   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Oct 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Nov 1954   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Dec 1954   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Dec 1954   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jan 1955   p. 1, 12.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Feb 1955   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jun 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jul 1955   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jul 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Aug 1955   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Aug 1955   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Aug 1955   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Sep 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Sep 1955   p. 1, 3.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Sep 1955   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Sep 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Oct 55   p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Oct 1955   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Nov 1955   p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Nov 1955   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Nov 1955   pp. 3, 5-35.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   29 Oct 55   p. 651.
New York Times   30 Apr 1943.   
New York Times   16 Jan 1944.   
New York Times   29 Aug 1953.   
New York Times   2 May 1954.   
New York Times   27 Jun 1954.   
New York Times   21 Apr 1955.   
New York Times   29 Oct 55   p. 29.
New York Times   29 Jan 1956.   
New York Times   5 May 1958.   
New York Times   27 Sep 1961.   
Variety   12 Oct 55   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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