If there’s any Broadway musical that would benefit from being staged in the open spaces of the outdoors, it is of course Oklahoma!, and that’s where 20th Century Fox put it in the early 50s. Oklahoma itself is a character, and director Fred Zinneman had a knack for filming all that open-air song and dance. Technically the movie is very tight and precise, almost too much so, even if Shirley Jones does not look at all like a farm resident. (On the other hand, she isn’t “starchily unfeminine,” as John Simon said of Josefina Gabrielle in the same role.) Needless to say, though, Shirley has the pipes; likewise with Gordon MacRae, Gene Nelson and . . . well, I don’t even mind Gloria Grahame’s stiff “I Can’t Say No.”
I can’t say no to Oklahoma!