Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sooner or Later

TCM is airing Oklahoma! tonight at 9:30 PM ET as part of its salute to director Fred Zinnemann. It's an interesting movie for several reasons. First, perhaps, might be the fact that it's got Fred Zinnemann directing, a definite change in genre for him. It would be like Alfred Hitchcock making a screwball comedy -- oh wait, he did; Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Oklahoma! is also the feature film debut of Shirley Jones, who later came on and got happy as the matriarch of the Partridge Family. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of musicals, so I'd prefer to see Jones in a movie like Elmer Gantry, especially because her character there is rather less wholesome than what she became known for as Ma Partridge, or even in The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

Oklahoma! is, of course, set in Oklahoma, although because it's set at the turn of the last century, the filmmakers needed places more undeveloped than they could find in the real-life Oklahoma, so they used Nogales, Arizona instead. Surprisingly, there aren't all that many movies from the classic era set in Oklahoma. You'd think that with its history of being the last place in the Lower 48 to be opened to settlement, it would have a lot more movies made about it than it does. Probably the two most famous are the two versions of Cimarron, although perhaps more interesting might be The Oklahoma Kid, because it's got James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart together in a western; Cagney complete with ridiculous ten-gallon hat!

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