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Sooner Cinema: Oklahoma Goes to the Movies - Larry A. Van Meter, editor

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Forty-Sixth Star Press

The third release from the Oklahoma City-based Forty-Sixth Star Press is its most accessible title yet. Edited by college professor Larry A. Van Meter, "Sooner Cinema: Oklahoma Goes to the Movies" looks at how the state has been depicted on film "? and how such efforts have influenced its citizens.

Nineteen essays are presented, starting with W.M. Hagen's discussion of silent-era Okie Westerns. Bill Moore delves into a fascinating piece of history, on what Thomas Edison's newsreel crews shot within the state, thus chronicling its infancy.

No book on Oklahoma cinema would be complete without including "The Grapes of Wrath," and Arch Longwill argues (successfully) that the film does the state more good than harm, likening the Joad family's perseverance to that of post-Murrah bombing residents.

Oklahoma Gazette film critic Doug Bentin weighs in on the James Cagney vehicle "The Oklahoma Kid," and the way he writes about B Westerns is infectious, making them more fun to read about than they are to watch. Gary D. Rhodes details the production of a cult movie I didn't even realized had been lensed here: gore godfather H.G. Lewis' "This Stuff'll Kill Ya!"

The absence of Oklahoma figures into Aaron Hunter's piece on the Woody Guthrie biopic "Bound for Glory," while Ann Pai looks at two state-set movies notorious for not shooting here: "Oklahoma!" and "Far and Away."

On more personal notes, Carolyn Seaton uses "Hair" to recall leaving Oklahoma for New York in the turbulent 1960s; Ryan Taylor praises "The Outsiders" for helping him survive middle school; and Jane Edgar remembers seeing "Silkwood" with a friend and that pal's very handsy father, at a time when her own dad thought going to the movies was a ticket to hell.

One of the more entertaining chapters finds David Charlson looking at "The Tin Drum" censorship fiasco and the hand-fishing documentary "Okie Noodling," even if his attempt to link the two is tenuous at best.  

"?Rod Lott

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