What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's one part that could be scary for some kids: a brief knife fight atop burning haystacks. You'll also find plenty of flirty innuendo in the song "I Cain't Say No."
What's the story?
Most of this frontier musical takes place on the day of the box social, a party where women's picnic baskets are auctioned for charity. After spitefully refusing Curly's (Gordon MacRae) offer to escort her, Laurie (Shirley Jones in her movie debut) agrees to go to the dance with Aunt Eller's rough-edged farmhand Jud Fry. Of course, as much as Curly and Laurie protest in public, they secretly love each other. Unfortunately, Jud is both jealous and vengeful, and things escalate quickly. While this love triangle does momentarily turn violent, another bickering threesome keeps the movie light and comical. Ado Annie, a somewhat clueless girl who "cain't say no" (Gloria Grahame), can't decide if she should marry smooth-talking peddler Ali Hakim (Eddie Albert), who obviously has no interest in wedded bliss, or her well-intentioned cowboy fiance, Will Parker.
Is it any good?
Rodgers and Hammerstein's memorable tunes make OKLAHOMA! an eternally fresh and enjoyable musical classic. The opening scene, when cowboy Curly rides through cornfields singing "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin,'" sets the tone for this colorful, tuneful, and upbeat frontier movie.
There are a couple of drawn-out dance numbers that will tempt you to fast-forward: one as girls freshen up at Laurie's house on the way to the box social, and a later ballet dream sequence -- an obligatory, bizarre, feature of many 1950s musicals. But these scenes aren't enough to keep this from the short list of must-sees for families who enjoy musicals, or for kids just getting started on the classics.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about Jud's behavior and how he might have justified it. How do the others treat him? What are his reasons for fighting Curly? Why does Laurie change her mind about Curly? How does Ali Hakim treat women? Is the box social concept acceptable in today's society?