Marc Platt and Bambi Linn are the only cast members from the original Broadway stage production to appear in the film, but they do not perform their original stage roles.
Joanne Woodward was considered for the role of Laurey Williams.
Betty Hutton turned down the role of Ado Annie, a role that could have revived her screen career. She instead chose to do a TV special called Satins and Spurs.
Shirley Jones' film debut.
Allene Roberts auditioned for the role of Laurey Williams.
Michael Todd had seen Shirley Jones in a touring performance of Oklahoma and suggested she be cast as Laurey for the film version.
Although James Mitchell and Bambi Linn danced the parts of Curly and Laury in the Dream Ballet, Rod Steiger did his own dancing in that sequence because there was no one who looked enough like him from the back. Despite his initial uncertainties, and after considerable coaching from choreographer Agnes de Mille, Steiger actually did a credible job, later calling it one of the biggest challenges he ever had.
Based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, a part-Cherokee playwright born in Oklahoma.
Filmed in both CinemaScope and Todd-AO. When both films are seen together, subtle differences may be discerned in such areas as line readings and overall pacing.
Finding "corn as high as an elephant's eye" proved to be quite a challenge. Since filming was to take place out of season, no tall cornfields were to be found anywhere. The job was given to the people of the University of Arizona Agricultural Department, who planted each stalk in individual containers and held their breath. With rain and good luck, the corn grew to a height of 16 feet, causing Oscar Hammerstein to quip: "The corn is now as high as the eye of an elephant on top of another elephant."
In Sheila MacRae's autobiographical book "Hollywood Mother of the Year" in her chapter titled, "Curly, Billy, and Me", she revealed that Gordon MacRae had very few waves in his hair. This posed a problem since he would be playing a man who got his nickname from his curly locks. Movie hairdressers tried to fix it but Oscar Hammerstein was unhappy with the results and suggested that Gordon get a permanent. Gordon refused but instead agreed to allow his wife Sheila to finger-curl his hair each morning so his character's name, Curly, was believable.
In her autobiography 'Playing the Field', Mamie Van Doren recalls her campaign to play Ado Annie. Van Doren claims one of the reasons she lost the part was that her acting coach, who happened to be Gloria Grahame's mother, mentioned Van Doren's interest in the part to her daughter; Grahame suddenly became interested in playing the part herself, launching a campaign of her own to win the part--which she did.
In the Todd-AO version of the movie, there is more picture visible in the periphery than in the CinemaScope version. While the peripheral picture on each side of the main action is very detailed, it is visibly distorted at times when there is physical action such as movement on the periphery in long-shots.
Nogales, Arizona, was declared an honorary part of Oklahoma for the period of shooting, by the governor.
Robert Stack, Piper Laurie, Lee Marvin, Vic Damone, Dale Robertson and Joan Evans were all screen tested for various roles.
Shot on location in and around Nogales, Arizona, because the real Oklahoma in 1955 was so heavily farmed and developed that few suitable areas could be found that resembled the highly-rural and undeveloped Oklahoma of the turn of the century when the musical is set.
The 1970 USTV premiere of this film was on CBS and hosted by the cast of the network's popular series "Family Affair": Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot, Anissa Jones, Johnnie Whitaker, and Cathy Garver. Presented in character, the wrap-arounds involved the fictional Davis family viewing and commenting on the film.
The ending scene in the "Kansas City" routine proved to be rewarding for the "Goon Girls" (Lizanne Truex and Jane Fischer). Jumping off a moving train into the arms of the waiting cowboys entailed perfect timing. Just before the first take, a union representative called for an "adjustment", which turned out to be an additional $250 for each jump because of the hazard. Seven takes later, director Fred Zinnemann was satisfied, leading Lizanne Truex to remark that they must remember to call "Adjustment!" more often as she had a 1951 Ford to pay off.