OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II - OUT OF MY DREAMS features musical numbers from five of the timeless, ever popular Rodgers & Hammerstein films and songs and scenes from two versions of Show Boat, the groundbreaking musical written with composer Jerome Kern. Irene Dunne, Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan star in 1936 film and Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are the stars of the 1951 remake. Also included, from the rarely seen 1941 film, Lady Be Good, Ann Sothern sings "The Last Time I Saw Paris," a song written by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern, which won the Academy Award as Best Song and "Dat's Love" from Carmen Jones.
Featured in archive footage from a 1954 television program saluting Rodgers & Hammerstein, are the original Broadway stars of Carousel, Jan Clayton and John Raitt, and South Pacific stars, Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin, singing hit songs from the musicals. From the same program, Bill Hayes and Janice Rule recreate the musical number, "You Are Never Away," from Allegro.
Very little film footage of Oscar Hammerstein exists but he is seen and heard on the program. Excerpts from his 1958 television interview with Mike Wallace are included as well as recorded comments from conversations with Arnold Michaelis and Tony Thomas.
Confirming the program's premise, Oscar says, "When a writer writes anything about anything at all, he gives himself away and what he has to say comes out."
This program also celebrates Hammerstein's work as a humanitarian and a political activist, a part of his life that is not universally known. From the beginning of his career to the end, he used his creative talents to raise the social consciousness of audiences all over the world. Show Boat examined racial discrimination long before the American Civil Rights' Movement began and South Pacific took a bold stand on the same subject with its dual plot of two couples struggling with 'inbred' prejudices. The powerful song, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," was controversial in 1949 but Rodgers and Hammerstein refused to cut it from the show.
From its inception, Hammerstein was a staunch supporter of the United Nations and worked with the World Federalist Movement to introduce the idea of World Government, which he hoped would lead to an enduring peace. He had helped Adlai Stevenson with some of his speeches in his presidential campaigns and it is believed that he was hoping to do more political writing in the future.
Stephen Sondheim, mentored by Oscar Hammerstein from an early age, is interviewed on the program and discusses the lessons he learned from the man he considers a theatrical revolutionary and both an artistic and a surrogate father. Also interviewed are Director/Producer Harold Prince, Shirley Jones (star of two films, Oklahoma! and Carousel), Mitzi Gaynor (star of the film South Pacific), Lyricist/Scriptwriter Joe DiPietro, Ted Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, and Hammerstein family members including his daughter, Alice Hammerstein Mathias, grandchildren, Oscar Andy Hammerstein, Melinda Walsh, and Peter Mathias, and his stepdaughter, Susan Blanchard. Seen in archive interviews are Oscar's late son, James Hammerstein, in a 1995 interview, and his deceased wife, Dorothy, interviewed in 1985.
OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II - OUT OF MY DREAMS was written, produced and directed by JoAnn Young. Edited by Laura Young. Producer: Sven Nebelung. Audio Editor: Richard Fairbanks. Consulting Producer: Oscar Andrew Hammerstein. Associate Producer: Amy Asch. Produced by Young Productions/Creative Retrospectives - A NJ Non-profit Corporation.