Flower Drum SongDirector: Henry Koster
The only Rodgers and Hammerstein cinemadaptation to be produced by Universal Pictures, Flower Drum Song was, alas, also the only Rogers and Hammerstein film to lose money at the box office. It looks far better now than it did back in 1961, if only because of the paucity of musical films in the 1990s. Essentially a comedy about the culture clash between old-world Chinese and assimilated Chinese-Americans, the film begins when Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki) and her grandfather (Kam Tong) smuggle themselves into San Francisco. It seems that Mei Li has arrived to honor an arranged marriage between herself and Runyonesque nightclub owner Sammy Fong (the incomparable Jack Soo). This might prove delicate, since Sammy is in love with flashy cabaret entertainer Linda Low (Nancy Kwan). Meanwhile, Linda is romancing Wang Ta (James Shigeta), the son of a wealthy Chinatown merchant (Benson Fong). Soon, however, Mei Li and Wang Ta have fallen in love.......It's a complex plot, to be sure, but comedy and music manage to predominate. The songs include "I Enjoy Being a Girl" (a tour de force for the special effects department, and for Nancy Kwan), "A Hundred Million Miracles," "The Other Generation," "Love Look Away," "I Am Going to Like It Here," "Don't Marry Me," "You Are Beautiful," "Grant Avenue" and "Chop Suey." Flower Drum Song is attractively produced and consummately acted; while no classic along the lines of King and I or Sound of Music, it deserves a second look.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- Universal Studios
Cast & Crew
|Nancy Kwan||Linda Low|
|James Shigeta||Wang Ta|
|Juanita Hall||Auntie/Madame Liang|
|Jack Soo||Sammy Fong|
|Miyoshi Umeki||Mei Li|
|Benson Fong||Wang Chi-Yang|
|Reiko Sato||Helen Chao|
|Patrick Adiarte||Wang San|
|Kam Tong||Dr. Li|
|Victor Sen Yung||Frankie Wing|
|Soo Yong||Madame Fong|
|Spencer Chan||Dr. Chou|
|Arthur Song||Dr. Fong|
|Herman Rudin||Holdup Man|
|Cherylene Lee||Sons Girl Friend|
|Virginia Lee||San's Girlfiiend|
|Jon Fong||Square Dance Caller|
|Virginia Grey||TV Heroine|
|Robert Kino||Bank Manager|
|Laurette Luez||Mexican Girl|
|Ward Ramsey||Great White Hunter|
|Paul Sorenson||TV Sheriff|
|Ching Wah Lee||Professor|
|Alexander Golitzen||Production Designer|
|Ken Darby||Score Composer|
|Alfred Newman||Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Richard Rodgers||Score Composer|
|Rodgers & Hammerstein||Score Composer|
|Irene Sharaff||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Joseph C. Wright||Art Director|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I'm not sure when I started to hound Universal Home Video about releasing this gem on DVD, but thank goodness I was heard, as well as many others from all the reviews of this new issue. This is my second favorite R&H film version musical behind SOUND OF MUSIC. Absolutely love the score, and always remember how charming this film is, so revisit often when I am in a foul mood or need a R&H fix. It was the only R&H musical film that still didn't have a DVD home, when all others have had at least one or two runs via Fox Home Video. I was lucky to tape the last broadcast of this film in widescreen, but it cut off the end titles a bit, so it was never complete, plus I have Universal's Pan and Scan VHS edition that is long out of print. Well, Universal has made up for it with this release. The remastering of picture and restoring the original technicolor is phenominal, especially focusing on Dong Kingman's lovely paintings that are part of the titles. I didn't imagine 5.1 Surround was possible, as it was advertised in 2.0 Stereo, but was happily surprised to see 5.1 listed on the packaging when I purchased it. The great overture sounds superb with Surround going. As mentioned by other reviewers, there is a great amount of extras that explain how the story got to Broadway in 1958, then the 1961 film, then forgotten, and then revived by the new story and presented on Broadway in 2002. I still would like to see a revival of the original Broadway version to compare it to the movie, as all I have is the Cast Recording. Still, nothing can take away the charm of this film, and the great performances of Nancy Kwan, Jack Soo, Miyoshi Umeki, Juanita Hall, Benson Fong, Reiko Sato and all the rest. During Nancy Kwan's commentary, it was sad to learn of some of the cast who are no longer with us, especially when they left us so young (Reiko Sato in particular, and Jack Soo who left us during his Barney Miller tenure). Nancy also mentioned she has been chosen to narrate a forthcoming documentary on Dong Kingman's artictic work. Only thing missing from the extras are trailers for the film, but in this case, "So what?" Though not specified as such, this 45th Anniversary celebration is great! Maybe at 50 in 2011, another edition will be shared with a few more treats. If not, I'm glad for what we have right here. Enjoy it, and thank you Universal for finally dusting off this diamond and representing it with such lustre.
The best way to describe this film is a saying I once heard, "Some people will hate it, some people will love it, but there is something here for everyone." I personally hated everything about this film, except the actors. This film was well casted. They got the different personalities to fit the right type of musical style required to work. My problem with the film is that it seems that it was adapted by an outsider's perspective and the script was being forced to work a certain way. I'm sure that I am the one that is wrong, because this book was a best seller and it has been done twice on Broadway not to mention this film. So, I guess you need to find which version you like.
I have been looking for this movie for a long time. It is my oldest daughter's favorite musical of all time. So, when I saw it I had to get it for her and thr price was right. She really loved it and said that she can't wait to get home to watch it.
It's no "King And I",but "Flower Drum Song" is still good Rodgers and Hammerstein.It gets a good but not great film version here.The movie has two big problems.As on Broadway,Joseph Fields's script now seems dated and over-sentimental,with characters that are stereotypes.And in the hands of producer Ross Hunter and director Henry Koster,the film is slow-paced and at times more like a photographed stage show.Still,there are enough good things to recommend it.The Alexander Golitzen-Joseph Wright- Howard Bristol sets and Irene Sharaff costumes look great in Russell Metty's lovely Technicolor photography.There are some good performances from the cast(Nancy Kwan and Miyoshi Umeki are especially outstanding, and the latter steals the show).Best of all,there is that lovely R&H score,well-performed under the expert direction of master Alfred Newman. All in all,this is a typical big-budget 1960s musical that provides an evening of good entertainment.
I loved the Flower Drum Song for its musical flavour as well as drops of comedy & tear jerking scenes. To me it had enough ingredients for a perfect blend of Chinese/American food & I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact I've been trying to obtain a video for my own personal library.