The hit Broadway musical from the 1940s gets a lavish if not always exciting workout in this 1955 film version directed by old lion Fred Zinnemann (High Noon). Gordon MacRae brings his sterling voice to the role of cowboy ... more »Curly, and Shirley Jones plays Laurie, the object of his affection. The Rodgers and Hammerstein score includes "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," and "People Will Say We're in Love," and Agnes DeMille provides the buoyant choreography. Among the supporting cast, Gloria Grahame is memorable as Ado Annie, the "girl who cain't say no," and Rod Steiger overdoes it as the villainous Jud. --Tom Keogh« less
Todd-AO version of Oklahoma extremely disappointing
dooby | 11/18/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review of only the Todd-AO version of the movie included in the recent 50th anniversary edition of Oklahoma. The main Cinemascope version on Disc One is outstanding and deserves 5 stars and more. However the accompanying Todd-AO version on Disc Two looks abysmal in comparison.
For those who are unaware, the producers filmed two versions of Oklahoma simultaneously, the one commonly seen which is the Cinemascope version and the other, the Todd-AO version which is the one that Rodgers and Hammerstein preferred. It is seldom seen because theaters did not possess the special equipment to project these Todd-AO movies (extremely widescreen with curved edges to give an enveloping effect). The 2 movies are not the same. They did not just use different cameras or lenses to film the same scene. The films are different in that every scene is restaged specifically for either Cinemascope or Todd-AO. This is obvious in a side by side comparison - the individual scenes are subtly different. Some scenes are shot at slightly different angles, some scenes are shot at different times of the day, some scenes include cast members seen in one version but not the other while all scenes show subtle variations in performances between one version and the next. But the most obvious difference is that only the Todd-AO version includes the Oklahoma Overture as well as the Intermission, En'tracte and Finale (Exit Music) which Richard Rodgers wrote for Oklahoma but never included in the Cinemascope version. The end result is that the Todd-AO version runs for 147mins while the Cinemascope version runs for just 139mins, a fact that Fox fudges by giving the runtime of the movie as 145mins.
The Todd-AO version presented here is virtually unrestored. It is so dark you can barely read the opening credits. It is grimy. Todd-AO is shot on 70mm film (Cinemascope is on 35mm), so it should reveal exquisite detail. Instead the transfer is so soft and blurry, it is like watching a second-generation VHS tape. And although Todd-AO is shot at 30fps, as opposed to 24fps in standard film, for the express purpose of reducing film flicker, there is more flicker on the Todd-AO transfer than on the main Cinemascope version. This is a very sorry presentation of what should have been the definitive edition.
If you are buying this solely for the Cinemascope version, you won't be disappointed. It is indeed a sight to behold. If you are thinking of buying this for the Todd-AO version which few audiences today would have had the chance to see, I'd recommend waiting till Fox reissues a properly restored edition of it. In fact the Todd-AO version looks better on the old laserdisc from more than 10 years ago.
A sidenote to Fox: Please do not harangue your customers with those extremely loud, obnoxiously noisy anti-piracy messages placed at the front of all your DVDs. People who buy these DVDs are not the ones pirating your movies. I inserted this DVD into the player expecting to be greeted by the lovely music of Oklahoma only to be assailed by the abrasively loud banging, thumping and thudding of your aggravatingly annoying anti-piracy message. Do not punish your legitimate customers or you'll find us all going to the side of the pirates."
I Returned My Copy!!!
Peter Prainito | Lombard, IL USA | 11/19/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I bought the 50th Anniversary 2-DVD of Oklahoma! After reading all the scathing reviews concerning the horrible quality of the Todd-AO version on disc two (which I happen to believe), I have returned my unopened copy. Releasing a DVD of such inferior quality, especially of such a beloved classic, is simply inexcusable. I hope that Fox gets a ton of complaints and suffers where it REALLY will hurt them, in both their profits and credibility. For Fox to knowingly distribute such a poor product is disgraceful, and ALL consumers should voice their opinions VERY STRONGLY. Otherwise this kind of garbage will go unchecked. I only wish I knew where to contact Fox with my comments. Anybody know? Thanks.
BTW, if you've never seen Oklahoma!, it's a beautiful movie musical adapted from it's origins on Broadway. The songs are all classics, and include "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'", "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top", and "Oklahoma!" The sweet love story from a bygone era (just before Oklahoma became a state), centers around a cowboy, his sweetheart, and the man who trys to come between them. There are plenty of laughs, dance, song, and drama, along with a stunning dream ballet sequence. It deserves a much better treatment than what it's getting in this 50th Anniversary Edition. I understand that the CinemaScope version on disc one is fine. Small consolation.
P.S. To add further insult, Fox now adds a disgusting Anti-Piracy/Copy commercial on their currently produced DVDs that REALLY should be aired on TV or mentioned in the newspapers! These ads DON'T belong on DVDs that HONEST consumers are purchasing...after all, THEY ARE NOT THE CRIMINALS!!!! Another moronic move by Fox."
5 STAR MOVIE...O star TODD-AO second disc..DISSAPOINTMENT!
Richardson | Sunny California USA | 11/18/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am happy to see a bunch of other folks were as horribly dissapointed as I was to throw this DVD into the player and instead of being treated by what should be a breathtakingly sharp and stunning Todd-AO version on disc two....see a muddy mess...which isn't near the 35mm version on disc one!
Fans of the Todd-AO process (watch Patton some time folks) know what an absolutely unsurpassed format it was....and the DVDs that have come out (like the aforementioned PATTON) that have been taken from it stun with clarity and color... I don't know how many generations removed from the original disc 2 of this set is ....but its not worth a $50 DVD players time...
Its particularly ironic that 20th Century waste so much other space on the disc on short features extolling the virtues of Todd-AO...only to present such a garbage transfer.... SHAME ON YOU FOX....this should be as gorgeous as the Sound of Music ...and its a big big letdown....and I like many others have been counting the days for this release...
....I am updating this review...with the official excuse from FOX home Entertainment...which follows..
A STATEMENT FROM TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT REGARDING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY DVD EDITION OF RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S "OKLAHOMA!"
In recent days we have heard back from a small number of consumers regarding the DVD of the Todd-AO version of "Oklahoma!" and specifically that it appears less detailed than the old Fox DVD release from 2000. We feel it is very important that we communicate the issues on hand regarding the Todd-AO version of the film.
As you know well, director Fred Zinnemann filmed "Oklahoma!" using two separate film techniques. The 35mm CinemaScope version and the then new, large gauge 65mm film format called Todd-AO.
Firstly, the good news is that the first disc features the CinemaScope version of the movie for the first time on DVD, and looks superlative. This is the main feature of the new 2-disc Anniversary edition.
However, when it comes to the bonus disc featuring the Todd-AO version, we have received reports from concerned fans that the Todd-AO version looks 'fuzzy' or 'less detailed' than the old DVD release from 2000. How can that possibly be?
When "Oklahoma!" was first released on DVD in 2000 it was the relative infancy of DVD, and Twentieth Century Fox utilized a widescreen video transfer of the Todd-AO version that had been made for VHS and laserdisc back in 1994. The resulting widescreen transfer (with black bars top and bottom) was a very pleasing presentation of the Todd-AO version.
Now, in 2005, Fox DVDs are mastered for the highest quality, supporting widescreen TVs and HDTVs that feature a 16x9 screen format (as opposed to 4x3 TV format). We could not simply re-use the old 1994-vintage 4x3 video transfer of the Todd-AO version because on an HDTV the old format would reveal ugly video artifacts, anomalies and edge enhancement that would detract from the film. This would be immediately apparent on any widescreen standard definition TV and more so on a high definition TV.
That being decided, it was back to the IP of the Todd-AO version for an all new high-definition transfer.
This is where time plays a detrimental role in the process. The Todd-AO print had severely deteriorated since the 1994 video transfer and presented a nightmare for the authoring of the DVD.
A painstaking restoration of the original elements was undertaken. The negative was so damaged that a 'wet gate IP' had to be created in order to preserve the film source. The biggest problem inherent in the Todd-AO version is the appearance of soft focus and considerable color breathing. The digital restoration team agonized over using the right amount of dirt removal ('DRS') in order to remove the glue stains and tears, while still trying to keep the already soft image from getting any softer. They addressed the color breathing as well, but too much adjustment would ultimately further harm the video presentation by introducing ringing and aliasing caused by artificially sharpening the picture.
Indeed, if you look at the 'Auctioning Ado Annie' scene (chapter 30) on the Todd-AO DVD, you can still see very severe color-flashing on the far left side of the frame. So sever was the flashing that no amount of digital correction would help.
The process of restoring a poor element is a difficult one, and Fox stands by its decision to give accurate representations of source materials. While artificial edge enhancement fixes one problem, it actually introduces more problems.
Ultimately, the decision was made to allow the DVD to present the Todd-AO version as accurately as it can be without artificially making it appear sharper.
In 1954/5, "Oklahoma!" was the first studio feature film to utilize the new Todd-AO process, and as such, the movie was a shake out for the system. Todd-AO lens and equipment were retro-fitted to existing camera technology, which resulted in anomalies that would prove significantly challenging some 50-plus years later in the digital age. By the time of "Around the World in 80 Days," released nearly two years later, the Todd-AO process was significantly more stable.
Sadly, in this day of high definition programming and movies, the current Todd-AO print of "Oklahoma!" does not stand up to scrutiny of what we think a large format film should look like. It simply isn't as sharp or as detailed as we remember it being. And it certainly doesn't compare to today's high definition programming.
So while the CinemaScope version is stunning, the Todd-AO version of "Oklahoma!" confounds DVD fans and aficionados 50 years after it was created. It may indeed suffer by comparison, but is, in its own right, a good transfer given today's technology.
Visual diappointment for a great format
P. C. Hutley | glendale, NSW Australia | 05/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Like several others, I agree that the Cinemascope version was well presented, but what a disappointment as far as the Todd-ao digital transfer! The original release I bought in 1999 gives a much clearer and brighter Todd-ao version that gives you a much better idea of what the original may have looked like. I enjoyed seeing "The Miracle of Todd-ao" again, but similarly the realism that was present in the original was lost, either due to poor quality of stock or inabilty to be able to digitally correct and sharpen the image. (I find it hard to imagine that Fox couldn't resore it better).There was an apology printed on our Region 4 version.
The Todd-AO transfer is heartbreakingly BAD!
David Fox | Phoenix, AZ | 11/12/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It's been a while since I've written a review of a DVD, but I had to comment on this new 2-disc special edition of Oklahoma. First of all, it's wonderful to have the Cinemascope version available on DVD at last. This is the familiar version that I grew up with and watched (admittedly in pan-and-scan) on TV for years and years. Then in the mid-90s I heard about a "new" version of Oklahoma that had not been seen for years, filmed in Todd-AO. I eagerly rushed out and bought the laserdisc of this version, and brought it home. I was STUNNED! The picture was clear as crystal, sharply in focus and had almost a video-like clarity to it, due to the 30 frames-per-second Todd-AO process. The colors were sharper than I'd ever seen this movie in, and the sound was as if it had been recorded in a modern studio yesterday. Then a few years later the advent of DVD came about and I couldn't wait for the Todd-AO version to come out and knock the socks off the laserdisc transfer. Unfortunately, I was disappointed; while a lot of the clarity was still there I could tell a lot of the sharpness was lost in the digital transfer to DVD. The lack of an anamorphic picture was not a problem as I did not yet have a wide-screen HDTV; All in all, though, the laserdisc version still looked better.
Then I bought my Sony 46" widescreen TV, and once again waited. . .thinking the next DVD version of Oklahoma would correct not only the problems with the digital transfer but will also be anamorphic, creating an even sharper image. Tonight I picked up the new 50th anniversary DVD. First I put on the Cinemascope version. It looked excellent!. . .much better than any previous version on video of the Cinemascope Oklahoma, including the Cinemascope laserdisc which was pretty fuzzy and faded. In anticipation I switched discs to the Todd-AO version. The first thing that worried me, though, was the fact that the Todd-AO version seems to be included as an "extra", along with all the other extras on the second disc. I started playing it and noticed the main titles seemed out of focus. Then the picture opened up on the corn field, that first shot that made me gasp with pleasure with that Todd-AO laserdisc I got 10 or so years ago. I definitely gasped again. . .with horror! Although the 30-fps smoothness of motion is still there, the colors are faded -- and worst of all, the entire picture is out of focus! This doesn't look anywhere NEAR 70mm quality; it doesn't even match the 35mm quality of the Cinemescope version! I have to agree with the poster that said this version needs to be recalled and remastered; it is one of the worst travesties I've seen in ANY video remaster, especially considering the wonderful picture of the LASERDISC 10 years ago! If you have the original DVD version of this, my advice is hang onto it until the Blu-Ray version comes out (although considering the history of these transfers that version will probably end up having the same quality as an old Little Rascals short. This one is darned close to that!)"