Oklahoma!

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

> > Nov 2005

Oklahoma! - Directed by Fred Zinnemann
By Travis Mackenzie HooverIf you're a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein, you probably need to own this disc, and just as probably don't read this magazine. For the curious, the perverse and the just plain ignorant who do read, you are hereby warned that this plains-western musical is pretty close to intolerable. The story revolves around an apple-cheeked Shirley Jones caught between farmer Gordon MacRae and hired hand Rod Steiger. The nice guy wins, after a struggle with the Travis Bickle-ish Steiger, but it all takes a backseat to suffocating sense of monumental-ness and some of the most horrible, irony-free lyrics in the history of verbal communication. It's a film that condescends to the just-plain-folks constituency to which it strangely also panders its playing of the accent, the pronunciations and the phoney sense of togetherness could only have been perpetrated by city slickers looking down their snouts. That people eat up this stuff as genuine good cheer is depressing. Every line is a fabrication, every lyric a lumbering clodhopper and every sentiment is rendered with a maximum of insincerity. Fred Zinnemann does what he can with the material (and I tremble at the thought of what a less quiet director would have done with this thing) but it's still a big, expensive raspberry launched by the composers at the thinking audience. And really, friends don't let friends watch films with Eddie Albert as an Arab peddler. Presented in both Cinemascope and Todd-AO versions, the extras include a gushy commentary by Rodgers and Hammerstein experts Ted Chapin and Hugh Fordin, a more informational one with Jones and scholar Nick Redman, a fascinating featurette on the distinction between Cinemascope and Todd-AO, two '50s shorts showing off the Todd-AO process, excerpts from a 1954 TV tribute to the composers, photo galleries, trailers, and sing-along subtitles. (Fox)

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