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Must-See Movie Reviews From Before the Grave

Oklahoma! (1955)

"Oh what a beautiful morning!"

Oklahoma! tells the tale of two cowboys, each vying for the heart of the woman they love, while fighting against an evil ranch-hand, and a corrupt peddler.


Initial Impressions:

Simon: I'm not tremendously excited for this film. I normally don't mind musicals, but old musicals where everything tends to be a little... overly happy tend to drive me just a little bit crazy.  Plus it has an exclamation mark in the title!  What type of movie does that?! It also happens to be about cowboys, obscure U.S states, and is over 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and... I'll just leave it there before I lose my nerve...


Bennett: As Simon drew his hand from our movie jar and spoke Oklahoma! with utter dismay, my heart raced with anticipation. When I was about twelve years old, I watched Oklahoma! live near Yellowstone National Park (irrelevant, but a fun fact). I was captivated by a stunning performance and I hope the play I witnessed is nothing compared to this movie.


Simon's Take:


Sigh,  where to begin.  This film (despite my initial impression) actually wasn't terrible.  In fact, it was both fun and funny.  And on the whole, it made for a good watch. In fact the only real detrimental problem with Oklahoma! is it's length.  Oklahoma! is long.  Like, really long.  And after a little while you start to feel every second drag by.  Now, normally I don't mind long films, or even slow films (remember, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my top 5 favorites after all). I don't even mind musicals, but the main problem I had with Oklahoma! was that it's length was largely unnecessary.  I would say probably a good hour or so was wasted on extended dance numbers, song reprises, or just moments in general where nothing much happened.  There was a whole 20 minute dream/LSD sequence, for instance, that added nothing to the story and could have easily been cut.  When you remember that the film is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, that's a lot of time spent sitting through unnecessary sequences. This is a huge pity because aside from all the wasted space, the film is actually great.  Sure, the characters are overly cheesy, the story isn't all that deep or meaningful,  and the conflict in the story wasn't focused on much at all, but hey, it's a musical!  And a fun one at that. The songs were light and filled with humor, with some particularly catchy numbers throughout.  My personal favorite, "Jud Is Dead," even brought up some dark humor, which I'm always a fan of.  In fact, I found myself laughing quite frequently and enjoying a lot of the back and forth dialog.  The film's goal was to entertain, and it succeeded. The dancing, while often a space filler, also provided some fun moments, and infused the film with a great sense of energy and momentum. However, this is also the biggest culprit to the its length, which meant a lot of this energy was lost in the long run.  The costumes and color palette were VERY overdone, but it actually wasn't a problem.  In fact, it really worked for this kind of film, and helped relate its fun side.  I just don't want the film crew decorating my house.  The sets were also great.  During the beginning of the film, I tried looking to see if I could spot where the sets ended to be replaced by screens or paintings, but if they were there, I didn't notice.  I don't know if that means a lot of the film was shot on location, or if the set designers just did a really good job. Even at this point in the review, I have no idea what to rate Oklahoma!. I really hate to damn a film based purely on length, but that really is what killed it.  But, at the same time, it succeeded in its drive to entertain despite its length, which I have to give it credit for.  I guess in short, this film is more for those hardcore musical watchers among you.  If you don't mind the wasted space, the film really is a lot of fun.  I just personally don't think a film should have me constantly checking the time to see when it'll be over.


Pros:

- Very funny
- Some great songs


Cons:

- So very, very long.
- Most of the length is just wasted space.


Bennett's Take:


Oklahoma! was a very special film. I was hoping to be captivated and entertained like I had in the theatre, but my hopes were dashed. The songs were great, the costumes vibrant, but the length and sluggish tempo of the film truly detracted from the experience.
Being a musical, the first thing to discuss is, of course, the action--of which there was plenty. Whether it was runaway wagons, numerous brawls, or murder, Oklahoma! was basically an action/thriller movie. In actuality, the musical numbers and choreographed dancing was fantastic. The songs livened the film incredibly, as the movie did tend to drag on. One of the main reasons I did not fall asleep was because of the music and its quirky lyrics. The dancing was well executed and lively throughout the film. It seemed energy emmanated from the characters as they danced, sung, and had a jolly good time. The uniformity of couples' costumes made my heart sing. There is something about colour-coded couples that improves a movie ten-fold. The vibrancy of the costumes kept the mood bright and optimistic.
As with many older films such as Oklahoma!, the sets are generally less complex. I enjoy the simplicity involved in older films, and Oklahoma! is no exception. With such elaborate and complicated props and designs seen often in films today, it was nice to take a break (possibly a nap or two) from the confusion with Oklahoma!'s unembellished ways. I also appreciated the panorama shots showed throughout the film. However, the amount of time spent on them was considerable. For nature enthusiasts such as myself, it was great, but others may not delight in it as much as I did.
As good a job as the movie did slowing life down, it also made me overly tired. Simon and I checked to see how much longer the film was at least half a dozen times. It almost seemed endless. I feel as though we watched the extended, extended edition of the film rather than the original. With the long panorama shots, although loved, I felt like I was watching Planet Earth. A little extra editing, and placement of some scenes in the "Deleted Scenes" section would have gone a long way.
Overall, the film was pretty good. I cannot say I enjoyed every part of it, as that would make me an advocate for doing drugs to hallucinate about the future. However, I can say I revelled in the beauty of the coordinated costumes, and wished I could take part in the incredible dance sequences.


Pros:

- Remarkable singing and dancing
- Memorable lyrics
- Colour-coded costumes, of course


Cons:

- Drug use
- Very long


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