South Pacific

South Pacific

3.7 17
Director: Joshua Logan

Cast: Joshua Logan, Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr


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Producer/director Joshua Logan's long-awaited filmization of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical South Pacific was not the classic that everyone hoped it would be, principally because of some curious creative choices made by the production personnel. Adapted from James A. MichenerSee more details below


Producer/director Joshua Logan's long-awaited filmization of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical South Pacific was not the classic that everyone hoped it would be, principally because of some curious creative choices made by the production personnel. Adapted from James A. Michener's best-selling novel Tales of the South Pacific, the film stars Mitzi Gaynor as WAVE officer Nellie Forbush, who while stationed overseas during World War II falls in love with wealthy French planter Emile De Becque (Rossano Brazzi). The Navy would like DeBecque to help them in a reconnaissance mission against the Japanese, but he refuses; having run away from the outside world after killing a man in his home town, De Becque sees no reason to become involved in a war which he did not start and in which he has no interest. But when Nellie, her inbred bigotry aroused when she discovers that Emile has two mixed-race children, refuses his proposal of marriage, DeBecque, having nothing to lose, agrees to go on the mission. His partner in this venture is Lt. Joseph Cable (John Kerr), who like Nellie is a victim of prejudicial feelings; Cable has previously thrown away a chance at lasting happiness by refusing to marry Liat (France Nuyen), the dark-skinned daughter of Tokinese trader Bloody Mary (Juanita Hall). When Cable is killed and DeBecque is seemingly lost in battle, Nellie, realizing the stupidity of her racism, prays for Emile's safe return. The dramatic elements of South Pacific are offset by the low-comedy antics of "Big Dealer" seabee Luther Billis (Ray Walston). Outside of Walston and Hall, both repeating their stage characterizations, South Pacific suffers from a largely noncharismatic cast. Mitzi Gaynor never rises above cuteness in the difficult role of Nellie Forbush, while Rossanno Brazi (whose singing is dubbed by Giorgio Tozzi) seems to be striking poses rather than acting as Emile DeBecque. These casting deficiencies might have been ignored had not South Pacific been laboring under an additional handicap: director Joshua Logan's decision to use colored filters in several key scenes, representing the emotions experienced by the actors. The constant color shift is more unsettling than attractive, drawing attention to Logan's technique and thereby taking the audience "out" of the picture. With all this going against it, however, South Pacific has much to be treasured. For one thing, all of Rodgers & Hammerstein's immortal songs--"Some Enchanted Evening," "Bali H'ai," "There is Nothing Like a Dame," "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy," "Younger Than Springtime" etc.--are retained, and, as a bonus, a song cut from the original stage production, "My Girl Back Home," is revived herein. In addition, the film is a bonanza for movie buffs who enjoy playing "spot the bit player:" among the supporting-cast ranks are Tom McLaughlin, Ron Ely, Doug McClure, John Gabriel and James Stacy (rumors persist that Joan Fontaine shows up unbilled as a nurse, but we've yet to spot her). Though artistically disappointing, South Pacific ended up one of the biggest box-office gold mines of the 1950s.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
On the heels of such hit films as Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I, the Broadway songwriting duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein produced this Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical based on James Michener's novel, Tales of the South Pacific. The film version is the epic story of a young American Navy nurse (Mitzi Gaynor) who falls in love with a French planter (Rossano Brazzi) during World War II. Long-awaited, the lavish, big-budget film was shot almost entirely on location in Hawaii and became a box-office hit even though it disappointed many critics. Director Joshua Logan changed color filters to emphasize the moods of different characters, an experiment that looks dated and amateurish in retrospect. But the lush photography and well-staged musical numbers carry the ambitious, three-hour film, in which Gaynor holds her own despite her controversial casting over Broadway veteran Mary Martin, who originated the role (and who also saw Julie Andrews take the the role that she originated in The Sound of Music). Memorable songs include "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" and "Some Enchanted Evening.""

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]

Special Features

Disc one:; Audio commentary by Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization president Ted Chopin and musical theater writer Gerard Alessondrini; Songs-only option; Singalong karoake subtitles (English); Disc two:; Extended "Road Show" version of South Pacific; Commentary by film historian Richard Barrios; Exclusive featurette: "Making of South Pacific"; Diane Sawyer takes James Michener back to the islands where his tales of the South Pacific were born; Vintage stage excerpts: "Some Enchanted Evening" and "A Wonderful Guy" performed by original Broadway stars Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza; Fox Movietone News: South Pacific on the Screen - A Perect Hit, State Department Confers High Honor on South Pacific; Mitzi Gaynor screen test; Original theatrical trailer and more!

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rossano Brazzi Emile de Becque
Mitzi Gaynor Nellie Forbush
John Kerr Lt. Joseph Cable
Ray Walston Luther Billis
Juanita Hall Bloody Mary
France Nuyen Liat
Russ Brown Capt. George Brackett
Jack Mullaney Professor
Floyd Simmons Bill Harbison
Candace Lee Ngana, Emile's Daughter
Warren Hsieh Jerome
Tom Laughlin Buzz Adams
Galvan de Leon Sub Chief
Ron Ely Navigator
Robert Jacobs Communications Man
Archie Savage Ceremonial Dance Chief
Darleen Engle Nurse in Thanksgiving Show
Richard H. Cutting Adm. Kester
Beverly Aadland Nurse in Thanksgiving Show
Joe Bailey US Commander
Ken Clark Stewpot
Buck Class Fighter Pilot
Stephen Ferry Pilot
Joan Fontaine Polynesian Woman
John Gabriel 2nd Communcations Man
Richard Harrison Co-Pilot
Doug McClure Pilot
James Stacy Actor
Georgio Tozzi Voice Only

Technical Credits
Joshua Logan Director
L.B. Abbott Special Effects
Buddy Adler Producer
Ken Darby Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
James A. Michener Source Author
John F. de Cuir Art Director
Paul S. Fox Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Ben Kadish Asst. Director
Alfred Newman Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Makeup
Paul Osborn Screenwriter
LeRoy J. Prinz Choreography
Richard Rodgers Score Composer
Rodgers & Hammerstein Score Composer
Walter Scott Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Leon Shamroy Cinematographer
Robert L. Simpson Editor
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

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