Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein play, two attractive women are each courted by two men, and after some difficulties at a party and benefit for the school-house they get married to the one they love.
Cowboy Curly McLain (Gordon MacRae) on his horse sings “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.” He rides to a farmhouse and surprises Aunt Eller Murphy (Charlotte Greenwood). Laurey Williams (Shirley Jones) sings too. Curly and Laurey discuss going to the box social, and she asks how they will get there. Curly sings “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” He says he made it up and laughs at her. He puts his arm around her, and she leans her head on his shoulder. They bicker again, and Aunt Eller tells him to kiss her. Laurey runs in the house. Jud Fry (Rod Steiger) goes in the house, comes out, and says he is driving Laurey to the party. Aunt Eller is going with Curly. Aunt Eller tells Curly to have friends come by before the party, and he rides off. Laurey tries to tell Jud something, but he says he will come by for her at sundown.
A train comes into the station, and Will Parker (Gene Nelson) gives a package to Aunt Eller. He says he got $50 to get married. Will shows them some pictures and then sings “Kansas City” and dances.
Laurey bathes in a pond, gets out and gets dressed. Ado Annie Carnes (Gloria Grahame) arrives in a buggy with the Persian Ali Hakim (Eddie Albert). Laurey asks Annie if she still likes Will. Annie says she has rounded out, and the fellows treat her differently now. Laurey says you can’t kiss everyone. Annie sings “I Cain’t Say No.” Laurey warns her about peddlers. Ali arrives, and Aunt Eller complains about the egg-beater he sold her. He gives her a garter. He asks what Laurey wants. She wants things to happen to her. He offers her the elixir from Egypt, and she buys it. Annie asks Ali how far he wants to go. He talks about taking her to a hotel, and she says he wants to marry her; but he does not agree. Will rides up and says he is going to marry her. He says he won the $50 her father said he needed to marry her. He says he spent it on presents for her. He asks for a little kiss and kisses her.
People arrive, and Aunt Eller welcomes them. They sing “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” and go in the house to freshen up. Laurey saw Curly with a pretty girl, and she sings “Many a New Day.” The young women dance in their underclothes. The men wash up outside. Annie tells Ali she is going to marry Will. Annie’s father Andrew Carnes (James Whitmore) with a shotgun says Will has to have the $50, but Annie says he spent it on presents. Annie tells him what Ali said, and Andrew calls it a proposal of marriage. Annie tells Laurey she is going to marry the peddler.
Laurey sees Gertie (Barbara Lawrence) with Curly and gets into a fight with her. Aunt Eller tells Gertie to go in the house. Curly asks Laurey if she is going with Jud. He says people are expecting Curly to go with her. They sing “People Will Say We’re in Love.” He asks her to tell Jud so she can go with him, but she says no.
Curly walks to the smokehouse and visits Jud, who has a gun. Curly sees a picture of a naked woman, a rope, and a hook he could hang himself from. Curly says people would come to his funeral and sing sad songs. Curly sings “Poor Jud Is Dead.” Curly asks Jud about where he worked before and whether he got even. Jud says there was a fire that was no accident. He says he found his girl with another fellow. Jud tells Curly to keep away from Laurey and to get out of there. Curly asks how he got to be the way he is. Jud fires his gun, and Curly shows how accurately he can shoot. Aunt Eller and others come running, and Curly says they were shooting at knotholes. Ali comes in to show things to Jud, and Curly leaves. Jud says Laurey had better not change her mind, and she hears him. Jud asks Ali for a trick knife. Jud says he wants a real woman.
In the house Aunt Eller asks Laurey why she is not ready. Laurey asks her elixir of Egypt to help her, and she closes her eyes. She sings “Out of My Dreams.” A woman dressed like Laurey dances with a man dressed like Curly, and she receives a wedding dress. The man lifts her veil, and she sees it is Jud. She goes into a bordello, and three women dance for Jud. She ends up alone with Jud and tries to run away. The man shoots Jud, who keeps coming and fights the man during a tornado. Jud strangles him and carries her off. Laurey opens her eyes and sees Jud is there to take her to the party.
Jud drives Laurey in a wagon, and they are behind the others. He remembers how she came to him when he was sick. He tries to embrace her, and she whips the horses who run wild without the rein. They go through woods and by a train. The horses rear, and Jud gets out to calm them. Laurey drives off and leaves Jud behind.
At the school-house raising people dance on a floor without walls. Ike Skidmore (Jay C. Flippen) sings “The Farmer and the Cowman” with others, and they dance. Aunt Eller conducts the auction of the baskets prepared by the women. The men bid, and Laurey arrives with her basket. Will stops Ali and asks him if he loves Annie. Will says he spent all his money on the bag of presents. Ali offers to buy some things from the bag for $45.50. Jud comes up and buys the picture tube with a switch-blade knife for $3.50. Will sells the rest of the bag for $1.00 so that he has $50. Aunt Eller auctions Annie’s hamper, and Andrew makes Ali bid. Will bids $50, and Andrew says it goes to the school-house. Ali bids $51, and Will does not bid anymore so that he can marry Annie. Aunt Eller auctions Laurey’s hamper, and Jud outbids Andrew. Curly brings his saddle that cost $30 and gets $10 for it. He bids $10, and Jud bids $10.25. Curly offers his horse and sells it for $25. He bids $35. Jud says Curly bid all he could but his gun. Jud bids all he has—$42.31. Curly sells his gun for $18, and he bids $53 and gets the basket. Ike tells Jud and Curly to shake hands, and Curly goes off with Laurey. Jud shows Curley the picture tube, and Ali whispers to Aunt Eller. She goes over to Curly and gets him to dance with her.
Will walks off with Annie, and they sing “All ‘er Nothin’.” Will dances with two other girls. Jud asks Laurey why she drove off without him. He says she is better. She says he is not a hired hand for her anymore. He grabs her and says she will never get rid of him. Laurey sees Will and then runs to Curly, crying. He holds her and kisses her, and she kisses him back. He says he can’t stand anymore in public. He tells her to keep her distance. She says she fired Jud and does not know what he will do. Curly tells her not to worry. He asks her to marry him, and she says she will. He says he will have to be a farmer because the country is changing. They talk about the first time they met at the fair. They sing “People Will Say We’re in Love.”
Ali says goodbye to Annie, and he says Will loves her. Ali says goodbye and kisses her. Will arrives and pushes him on to his wagon. Will asks if she will think of the peddler, and she says she only thinks of the man who is with her.
Curly herds cattle and tells Ike he will be a farmer. At sunset people come to the wedding. Jud watches from outside. Curly and others sing “Oklahoma!” Laurey and Curly go in to pack. Gertie says she married Ali, who says it was her father’s rifle that did it. Will gives Gertie an Oklahoma hello, and Annie starts beating her. The men make noise outside the window, and Aunt Eller tells them to go home. Curley and Laurey climb on top of a haystack and embrace. Jud starts a fire, and they see it. Jud torches their haystack. Laurey jumps off, and Curly jumps on Jud, who falls on his own knife.
Aunt Eller tells Laurey she has to adjust to different things and be hardy. The men come in and say Jud is at the doctor’s. Curly says he will give himself up to the judge. Andrew is the judge, and Aunt Eller says they can do it there by bending the law. Andrew asks Curly for his plea and questions him. Curly mentions the fire, and Andrew says the plea is self-defense. They all pronounce him not guilty. Annie and Will say they did not miss the excitement. Curly and Laurey say goodbye to Aunt Eller and drive off in the surrey with the others.
This musical drama entertains with outstanding songs and celebrates one of the last states to join the Union. The dark side of sexual relations is portrayed by crude Jud, who lacks the charm and sensitivity women find romantic. Although Laurey and Curly appear to quarrel, they know they like each other. Annie likes romance, and the peddler tries to avoid marriage.