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misswonderly3

Two of the Best Musicals Ever Tonight !

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The Shirley Jones program this evening includes two truly great musicals: *The Music Man* and *Oklahoma !* Shirley is exceptionally pretty and talented and has a very sweet soprano voice, but she is just the icing on the musicals cakes that these two films are.

 

What makes these two films so good ? The music, of course ! After all, they are musicals. Aside from Miss Jones, the only thing they have in common is their superlative scores.Each of these musicals have two very different composers - Rodgers and Hammerstein of course for *Oklahoma !* and someone not so well-known, Meredith Wilson, for *The Music Man* .

 

Both are flawed in the same way...a little overlong, particularly *Oklahoma !* The dream/ballet sequence could have and perhaps should have been cut. But other than that, they are two of the most delightful musicals ever performed on a stage and subsequently made into a movie.

 

 

If you listen carefully to the songs in *The Music Man* you'll be rewarded by the complexity of the rhythms, the cleverness of the lyrics and the way the lyrics complement the music, and the sheer sweetness of the melodies.

 

 

I love the way 76 Trombones, a vigourous marching band number, later turns into the tender ballad Good Night My Someone. Meredith Wilson must have had a real love for crafting words into rhythm, he must have recognized the close relationship between those two. Marian the Librarian is another great example - these songs are not only full of melody and energy, they're a lot of fun !

 

 

As for *Oklahoma !*, it's exceptionally melodic songs are matched by the joyful and lively dancing that accompanies them. Apparently the tunes from this musical were on " the hit parade" for months after the film was released, and one can understand why.

 

 

Plus, both movies have great stories, touching and likable young lovers, beautiful sets, and actors who knew what they were doing, both in terms of acting and singing. And both movies are little celebrations of Americana, in different ways. They're joyful and fun and full of great music - what more could you ask ?

 

 

Man, I've indulged in a real gush session here. I'd be embarrassed :8} save for the fact that both these wonderful musicals deserve all the praise I've so liberally heaped on them. Shirley I'm not the only TCM fan who feels this way about them.

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I've never especially cared much for *Oklahoma!* (I appreciate it, however), but I love *The Music Man*. It's a great slice of Americana, and I think part of its appeal is that it cuts across many boundaries....it could be taking place almost anywhere in small-town U.S.A.

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THE MUSIC MAN, for my money, is sheer film perfection. There is nothing to complain about, nothing wrong. It is, for me, one of only two perfect screen musicals.

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Everytime I watch Robert Preston and Shirley Jones sing "Til There Was You" I think of the story she has told about the filming. She was far along in a pregnancy and at the exact time of the kiss the expected son kicked so hard even Preston felt it. I think that was protecting Mom's honor a bit far. One of those unbelievable but true tales. Love the movie.

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I was so excited to see both of these movies on tonight's schedule. I love musicals and The Music Man is just jam-packed with great songs; I also love the score of Oklahoma ... but wouldn't you know it, TCM is NOT airing Oklahoma in Canada. :(

 

Oh well, at least I got to see The Music Man - and I can sing most of the Oklahoma score to myself. ;)

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I love THE MUSIC MAN except for one thing: Ronny Howard's cloying, annoying, over-the-top performance. For anyone whose seen a stage version of the movie the kid is never so overdone as in this film. I wish he had been reigned in. But Shirley Jones and Robert Preston are perfection. I'm so surprised that Preston wasn't Oscar-nominated. So many actors/actresses who re-create their Broadway roles have gone on to be Oscar-nominated for them and many have won (Brynner, Harrison, Booth, et. al.).

 

As for the movie version of OKLAHOMA. It has never worked for me. I love the show but I think the movie is bloated and over-directed. I wish it had been made in the 1940s when a different kind of musical talent was available. Rod Steiger seems to have wondered in from some other film. I think most of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals somehow got bloated and overdone when they made their way to the screen.

 

best,

Terry

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>I love THE MUSIC MAN except for one thing: Ronny Howard's cloying, annoying, over-the-top performance. I wish he had been reigned in.

 

I agree with that and would also throw in Buddy Hackett's performance in Sha-poopie. Ew.

It's like the clever songs or townspeople's reactions aren't enough comic relief, they have to add in crummy slapstick that undermines the real human comedy.

 

I love this musical- Shirley is just stunning in it (those clothes!) and it really shows what a gorgeous voice she has. And Robert Preston is simply perfection.

The costumes were a dream, they certainly deserved an Oscar. And wasn't that Thurl Ravenscroft at the beginning with the black horse?

 

I really enjoy Meredeth Willson's compositions.

He's not verse/chorus/verse/chorus like all of the others, but instead creates very unusual timings and rhythms. Yet, he can bring in elements of oldie timey marching band music, evoking a certain "feel".

My favorite lyric is when Prof Hill uses the rhyme "carrion" when he's wooing Marian in song!

 

I'm sure my neighbors were rolling their eyes hearing my stereo blasting this last night, my tastes are so corny. I'm glad others here enjoy the corn too.

 

As for OKLAHOMA, the only scene I like is the opener with hunkster Gordon MacRae riding his horsie along the cornfield. Whenever I ride along the fields I burst into song too.

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Deb23 wrote:

"...wouldn't you know it, TCM is NOT airing Oklahoma in Canada. :( "

 

Well, silly me - I of all people should have checked that, what with my "Canadian thread" and all. Didn't even double check to make sure *Oklahoma !* was screening in Canada. What a shame. Although I already own it, and despite my almost rabid enthusiasm for it would probably not have stayed up til 3a.m. to watch it.

 

I've noticed that a lot of people around here don't care for the movie, and I really cannot understand why- unless you just don't like musicals anyway, fair enough, I "get" that. But if you do, what's not to like about *Oklahoma* ? (I've decided to dispense with the exclamation point.)

It is too long. And the ballet/drug-influenced dream sequence is not only too long, it's way over the top. Must have been a 1950s thing, that.

But I don't agree with those who've complained about Rod Steiger's part in it. I'm not sure if people are unhappy with the role of Jud Fry in the first place, the darkness ( lust, mostly, but from a creepy guy instead of a handsome guy) of the character; or if it's specifically Rod Steiger's performance that puts them off. I really like Steiger, I think he's good in just about every film I've seen him in. *Oklahoma* too. You remember this guy.

Comparisons have been made to the stage version of *Oklahoma*. I did see one once, a few years ago at Stratford ( Ontario). It was really good, too, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it did not diminish my love for the movie version.

It's the great songs, the exuberant dancing, and the "homespun" humour and philosophy ( I want an Aunt Eller ! ) that make the production so likable. And leave us not forget Gloria Grahame, slinking around with all the boys when her fiance's not looking. Who knew the princess of noir could sing? Well, maybe she can't, but nobody cares- her Ado Annie is pure sex and comedy.

 

 

So I still don't get why so many people don't seem to like this musical. But that's ok, I seem to like it enough for 10 people.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just realized something - in *Oklahoma*, you have Shirley Jones, several singing cowboys, and an Arab ( the peddlar, Eddie Albert) all in one movie. Covering all the TCM July themes in one fell swoop.

 

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I love OKLAHOMA! I think it is impossible to improve upon the cast, and the Todd-AO version of the film is a remarkable achievement. I only didn't mention it in my post, because I was making a point about the perfection that is THE MUSIC MAN. I also don't understand how someone could dislike it. The songs alone are worthy of admiration!

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I saw the first part of THE MUSIC MAN, and was reminded just how great the first two production numbers were, the one about "knowing the territory" and the one about "pool". Sorry, I've forgotten the titles.

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Great topic, Brigid!

 

As Fred MacMurray says in THE APARTMENT, "Music Man! What else?" In 1960, it was the show to see. It's still hard to beat. The small town atmosphere, the glamor, and the most adorable musical numbers this side of Busby Berleky! Prozac? Therapy? I'll take THE MUSIC MAN for my depression!

 

I had heard the soundtrack 720 times, and STILL had to be told those two songs had the same melody. (76 and "Someone.") It never occurred to me. "Till There Was You" is so sweet even The Beatles covered it. Paul does a beautiful job of a beautiful song.

 

"Robert Preston was not nominated." I''m sorry. What did you say? Some oversights are excusable. Understandable, given certain circumstances. This one is simply unfathomable. It makes no sense.

 

I read an interesting piece on OKLAHOMA. The play was considered ground breaking for its time. I can't cite specifics on this. Something about story, as opposed to a flow of songs and dances.

 

Most musicals come up a little short in my estimate. It's generally not my scene. But a really, REALLY good one can turn your day around.

 

Thanks for pointing that out, Brigid!

 

Edited by: redriver on Jul 14, 2011 8:03 PM

 

Edited by: redriver on Jul 14, 2011 8:04 PM

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Why just the first part of *The Music Man* ? What happened after that? ( I know, you went looking for your old high school band tuba...)

 

Yes, john001, I agree, *The Music Man* is just about perfect. I wonder why it doesn't get more attention today?

 

red, thanks for the feedback. One thing everyone here seems to agree on is how good this sweet musical makes us feel when we watch it. I like the point about the Beatles covering Til There Was You, a tune that was a natural for Paul at the time.

 

 

I saw *The Music Man* as a stage production at Stratford ( do I have to specify "Ontario" ) in 2008. It was just as delightful as the film.

Just to reiterate yet again - the main reason I love these two musicals is for the MUSIC ! Great scores, songs that come into your head unbidden and stay there and you don't mind because they're so damn good !

 

 

Many other musicals get discussed around here, and many of them are quite good; but the key to any great musical, stage or movie, is the quality of the songs. Without that, sets, stars, high production values, etc. don't matter. A great score could save a low-budget musical, but a mediocre, forgettable score cannot save a high budget one.

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Just realized something - in *Oklahoma*, you have Shirley Jones, several singing cowboys, and an Arab ( the peddlar, Eddie Albert) all in one movie.

 

And in Eddie Albert, you have the man who replaced Robert Preston on Broadway as Professor Hill.

 

Just as an FYI, Forrest Tucker and Bert Parks were the road company version. Ironically, when AUNTIE MAME was remade as the musical MAME, it was Preston who played the part that Tucker played originally.

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Well, I have to admit that I dug out my DVD of Oklahoma last night and watched it. :) I think I did doze off for a few minutes during the ballet number, though. ;)

 

To those who've complained about Rod Steiger - I think he is pretty menacing as Jud, but also while watching last night I was reminded of Marlon Brando in "Guys and Dolls". Another well-respected actor who was not considered a singer but nevertheless appeared in a musical. Granted, Steiger's only number was "Pore Jud is Daid" but I think he did quite well with it. "Pore Jud" is actually one of my favourite numbers because of the sly dark humour.

 

Of course, I also cannot resist singing along to "Kansas City" and "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" and "I Cain't say No" and ... well, you get the idea.

 

The songs in The Music Man were, I think, not memorable for me at first - as someone has said, the rhythms and melodies are a bit unusual - but I have grown to love every song (with the possible exception of 76 Trombones, which I guess I have heard too many times). I agree with TikiSoo about "carrion" - always makes me laugh, plus the look on Marian's face is hilarious.

 

I also have to agree somewhat with those who didn't care for Ronny Howard in this movie; I liked him much better in The Courtship of Eddie's Father (not a musical, but still a very entertaining movie, and also starring Shirley Jones).

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I hadn't watched The Music Man for a while and forgot how great it is! I am a musical fan but my tastes are more towards the 40's and 30's, but this one has some really great tunes, and I enjoyed the story as well.

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I heartily concur about these two gems! They are irresistible and ageless, and I must express my preference for the Music Man, which is absolute perfection.

 

Most importantly, I am a professional-caliber musician who has played every one of the songs in both of these musicals, which of course gives them a highly personal quality to my own experience. I am very grateful to TCM for keeping them alive here on exhibition and, of course, available for purchase on DVD. I have of course recorded them for my own use, but there are many who are yet to own any recordings of one or both of them. This is a mistake for those who appreciate the awesome beauty of these creations of a bygone era.

 

Gerald

 

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>I am a professional-caliber musician who has played every one of the songs in both of these musicals, which of course gives them a highly personal quality to my own experience.

 

I'm glad you brought this up, GR.

As a kid, my chorale instructor LOVED M. Willson and I recall having to learn several of his songs. When you sing them (or play them) I think their "less than typical" timing and melodies become even more apparent.

The guy was truly a genius; it's almost as if he knew the "rules" and knew them so well, he could bend them and still succeed.

 

And Robert Preston was just the perfect vehicle for them.

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I believe I've heard the role was intended for Danny Kaye. Kaye was a talented, creative performer. He would have been good. But mightn't he have clowned it up a bit? Harold Hill with a lampshade on his head! Preston was the perfect choice.

 

I think we're in agreement that this is a supremely adorable show. Someone mentioned the 30's and 40's. My VERY favorite musical is FOOTLIGHT PARADE! Utterly mindless. But mind blowing. Busby Berkely on acid!

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redheadedwoman, ( ya gotta love the screen names we folks pick around here ! ) , you and redriver have mentioned 30s and 40s musicals as personal faves. I'll go with the 30s- how could anyone improve upon those delicious Fred and Ginger pics? I practically worship them (trying to think of a word besides "love" to communicate how I feel about them) - not more than the later ones we're talking about here, but just as much and in a different way. In fact, I don't want to get started on how wonderful they are because it will "de-rail " the thread. (I did start a "Fred and Ginger" thread some time ago, just to gush about how delightful these 30s gems were.)

 

Anyway - what I was going to ask was, can you recommend any good musicals from the 40s? I have found that period somewhat lacklustre when it comes to musicals, but perhaps that's just because I'm not very familiar with any. As I've said, for me it's all about how good the music is in a musical, and the few 40s films in that genre I've seen have had somewhat forgettable scores. But what do I know? If you can think of any 40s musicals that have you humming their tunes by the end of the movie, please let me know and I'll try and catch them :)

 

ps: redriver (hey both of your screen names begin with "red" ! ) I like DAnny Kaye but I agree that he might have made a charicature of Harold Hill, wheras Robert Preston struck just the right balance between a funny guy, a con man, and a lover. )

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I even like HELLO, DOLLY, which is about as silly as a show can get. But try NOT tapping your toes to those tunes, and singing the songs long after you leave the theatre! I don't care for Gene Kelly's film, but it works on stage.

 

MAME may as well be "Dolly Two." Strong female character, over the top score, big chorus numbers. But, as such, it's pretty entertaining. And boy, do these shows know how to end an act!

 

With all respect to the mindless musical (I, myself, have noted Busby "I must be hallucinating" Berkely), I ultimately give credence to the more mature, story oriented variety. MY FAIR LADY is my favorite. WEST SIDE STORY, of course. And the subject of another interesting thread, 1776.

 

Now back to you, Brigid!

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Right, But how did the Broadway producers know that Preston would be the perfect choice?. I don't believe that he had ever done anything in film which gave an inkling of what he did in "The Music Man". Maybe he had done something like it on stage?

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The producers didn't know he would be good. He had to audition, They made all the men auditioning for Harold Hill learn and perform TROUBLE. He nailed it, and got the role.

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