|Page 1 of 12:||          |
|Index||112 reviews in total|
Though it is only the second longest running of Rodgers&Hammerstein's
musical shows, South Pacific I believe contains the best score with The
King and I running a close second. On Broadway it opened in 1949 and
closed 1925 shows later in 1954. It gave Mary Martin her career role on
Broadway and made a pop star out of Metropolitan Opera basso Ezio
Opening on Broadway only four years after VE Day, South Pacific found a ready made audience with the American public who believed in the rightness of the cause just fought for. The show is based on two short stories from an anthology of stories entitled Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. The success of South Pacific boosted Michener's reputation as a novelist in no small way.
It's only too bad that South Pacific was not made with the original Broadway leads because it took so long to come to the screen. Ezio Pinza had died in 1956. He had done a couple of films in Hollywood that didn't do that good, but Pinza scored another great success on Broadway in Fanny. Too bad he didn't get to do that film either.
Mary Martin was also getting a bit long in the tooth by 1958 to be playing young Ensign Nellie Forbush. Also in a previous sojourn in Hollywood she hadn't done that good for some inexplicable reason. Mitzi Gaynor stepped very nicely into Mary's shoes and being more of a dancer than Martin, Gaynor's part had more dancing than on Broadway. Check the routine she has when she sings and dances about that wonderful guy she's just fell in love with. It's a shame that Mitzi Gaynor did not come along when musicals were at their height. How great she would have been in some Busby Berkeley epics.
Pinch hitting for Pinza is Rossano Brazzi and for Pinza's voice, Giorgio Tozzi. The big hit of South Pacific, probably the greatest hit from Rodgers&Hammerstein is Some Enchanted Evening. The popularity of that song made the South Pacific original cast album a big seller. And a whole slew of singers recorded it. Bing Crosby and Perry Como had big selling records in 1949 and Al Jolson as well.
The comedy is supplied by Ray Walston who was fresh from Broadway and Hollywood playing Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees. He plays Luther Billis, sailor and conman extraordinaire. On Broadway the part was done by Myron McCormick.
In fact Walston's big scene is a reminder of how film can do things that on stage you can only imagine. He accidentally falls out of a plane with a parachute fortunately just off a Japanese held island. He's thrown a rubber life raft and has to paddle like mad to get out of range of the enemy weapons. And then sits back and enjoys the show as a whole slew of fighters pound the Japanese on that island. It's described on stage, but here you can enjoy it first hand.
The primary story is the romance between nurse Nellie Forbush from Little Rock, Arkansas and French expatriate planter Emile DeBecque, Brazzi's character. The secondary story line concerns marine lieutenant Joseph Cable, nicely played by John Kerr with dubbed singing voice. Juanita Hall who is from the original cast is Bloody Mary is trying to match Cable with her daughter Liat played by France Nuyen in one of her first screen roles. She's quite the operator herself, Bloody Mary and more than a match for Walston.
Three young players who made it big later and had bit parts in South Pacific were James Stacy, Doug McClure and featured prominently is Tom Laughlin, the future Billy Jack.
It's too bad that we don't have a nice technicolor version of Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, but this is a pretty good group of players who worked hard and made a wonderful movie.
I remember when South Pacific was first released in the movie theaters,
and if a person had been around for that time and witnessed the viewing
on the large curved Todd-A-O screen with surround sound stereophonic
sound like Cinerama had. Yyes dear people; surround sound is nothing
new], then the younger critics today would have a different outlook on
this film, but I will admit that it is a little bit too long, but a
beautiful movie it is. The only thing that I find wrong is that it's
just too perfect. You expect a little flaw here or there, but there's
nothing, and even though most of the actors and actresses singing
voices were dubbed except for Mitzi Gaynor, you can't see any flubbing
up of the lip-sync hing. Look at Rozzano Brazzi - his lips look like
he's really singing. Even his breathing is right in there with Giorgio
Tozzi who did the actual singing.
This was directed by the very manic-depressive Josh Logan whose insanity is all over the screen in his directing of the movie version of "Paint Your Wagon", but Logan said that his first choice for Nelli was Elizabeth Taylor, but when she tried to sing for Rogers and Hammerstien, she was so nervous that her throat closed up on her, and she lost out. He was too afraid that Doris Day would turn South Pacific into a Doris Day vehicle, and then one day Mitzi Gaynor showed up and told him, "I know you probably think I can't play Nelli, but I'd like to test for it anyway!" After the test, he asked someone what he thought of her as Nelli and he was told, "Oh! She'll be very good if you can get her to do the things she should be doing instead of the things she's doing, her Gaynorisms - big winking eye's etc., and then he added, "Of course, you'll have to police her!" She smoked cigarettes like a chimney. So, Mitzi got the part, and at the world premier it was then well known that everyone's voice was dubbed except for Mitzi Gaynors and some woman in the audience was explaining to her friend who sang for who, and then ended up asking, "I wonder who sang for Mitzi Gaynor?" and not knowing that Ms. Gaynor was sitting in front of them, she turned around, looked at the two women and quipped, "Frank Sinatra"!
Personally, I love the filters on the musical sequences, and it really adds to the enjoyment of the film. Josh Logan didn't like them, but he was warned not to film the movie in Technicolor for fear that it would look like a picture post card that you could turn over and write "Having a Wonderful Time", but with it being a little bit too long, I love the movie, and again, it's just a shame that these movies cannot be seen in a movie theaters anymore. Then - the would see the expert craftsmanship in such movies as the glorious "South Pacific"!
So, considering Glenn Close in her version of South Pacific. Take it for what it is, it's not that bad. In fact, a big surprise that it turned out as well as it did. I understand that the Josh Logan version with Mitizi Gaynor is going to be released into the movie theaters again. After everyone today see's it as it should be seen, maybe this will cause the release of other musicals such as Oklahoma, The King and I, Carousel, and Guys and Dolls to be released into the theaters again. What a treat that will be, but here's another version, and a wonderful surprise:
You can purchase the South Pacific Concert on C.D. starring, ready for this, Reba McIntyre as Nellie Fobush, with audience response on the disc, and is everyone in for the surprise of their life. Beba is perfection. All of the music is combined with bits and pieces of the shows Dialogue so that you feel you're watching the complete show on the stage. Reba sounds like someone from Little Rock, and her singing is wonderful. All I can say is: Rogers and Hammerstien would approve 100% and be very proud of this version. Reba and the cast is perfection! Reba knocked their socks off on Broadway playing a dynamic performance as Annie in "Annie Get Your Gun"! No wonder she is simply wonderful playing Nellie in South Pacific! If Reba is smart, the next role she'll play is Sally Adams in the Ethel Merman hit "Call Me Madam"! Go girl! Go!
When are folks going to give 'South Pacific' an even break? It's a
film. A great big, colourful, emotional wallow, filled with romance, song,
splendor, humor, and expert acting. Sure the colour filters are somewhat
jarring. Blame it on the awful prints now (and it seems, forever) in
circulation. Back in June 1958 the Films and Filming reviewer put it this
way, "Logan has hit on the ingenious idea of using colour rather in the way
that a composer underscores a films drama with music. As the emotions of
characters find their expression in music, so the cold clear tones of
reality dissolve into the warm yellow and red hues of fantasy. I found this
a wholly acceptable compromise, and many of the effects (indeed the whole
level of the Todd-AO photography) were outstandingly good." Works for me to
- and goodness knows I've seen them often enough. It also worked for the
millions of cinemagoers who flocked to see the film - over and over again.
Mind you, had Logan decided to supervise all aspects of the cutting etc.,
instead of trotting off to direct 'Blue Denim,' Fox might, possibly, have
been persuaded to remove the filters before release? Perhaps, with film
preservation on so many agendas these days, some of this
colour-filter-exasperation could be channeled in that direction.
Now, regarding all this rubbish about 'South Pacific' being a financial and critical disaster? How? In Great Britain, where it had a four-and-a-half year run at the Dominion Theater in London, it recouped three times its negative cost before going into general release. It ran for three-and-a-half years in Sydney and Copenhagen. For over two years in NYC. It even broke box office records in Salt Lake for goodness sake. And this is just the tip of the successful iceberg. The critics? Sure there were dissenters, there always are, for any film. Most, however, echoed the headline which ran in London's Daily Mirror, 'South Pacific is just terrific.'
Which brings me to my final irritation, the casting of Mitzi Gaynor as Nellie Forbush. The delicious Mitzi is bloody marvelous in 'South Pacific.' She gives a beautifully multi-layered performance filled with truth and honesty. Her Nellie is real, human, and natural. In scene after scene this immensely talented actress subtly conveys, with humor and great sensitivity, her character's ever-changing moods. And, again, from NYC's Daily News to London's Daily Express, by way of Picturegoer and Films in Review, the majority of critcs agreed that, "Mitzi doesn't leave a palm-leaf on the trees when she goes into action."
'South Pacific?' It really is terrific.
This film is due to be re-released in 70MM for limited engagements next
year. A new restored DVD is also being prepared by Twentieth Century
Fox Home Entertainment which includes scenes that were cut back in
1958. Somebody commented recently about the fact that "lap-dissolves"
were used between many scenes in this film and this person obviously
felt that this was some kind of fault. This was a common editing
technique utilized in the past and was used usually to signify the
passage of time. It is rarely used these days and obviously that person
has not encountered this technique before and has assumed that it is a
fault, but this is not the case.
I am curious to know if the new transfer will feature the Broadway continuity(the Emile-Nellie Plantation scene before the "Bloody Mary" scene)? I hope it is an anamorphic transfer?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I did a significant amount of my courting to this film.It was on for so long at the "Astoria",Brighton that I must have taken at least 5 different girls to see it during its run.It may even have moved to another cinema in the town later,my memory is a bit hazy about that,but by the time it was taken off at the "Astoria" I had become a little more sophisticated and was going up to West End shows (15 shillings on "The Brighton Belle"),but I knew all the words to "There is nothing like a dame". Based on James Michener's "Tales from the South Pacific "it has some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's finest songs blended into a stirring tale of love,prejudice,redemption and heroism in wartime.Everything a 1958 audience could wish for,simple people that we were. The world is now a much smaller (and scarier)place,and what to us was exotic is now the everyday.We have lost our sense of wonder,become blase,what once evoked a gasp now merely evokes a yawn. To make any meaningful criticism of "South Pacific" we must regain our lost innocence. In 1958 American Culture was universally coveted.The American Way was the way everybody wanted to go.The idea that U.S. military personnel were ordinary decent human beings(now considered laughably naive) was widespread. Lt Cable,then a legitimate target for a mother with a beautiful daughter would now be a legitimate target for a suicide bomber. Of course the movie seems trite and laboured,disingenuous and clichéd in 2006 if viewed with nearly half a century of hindsight,but,please believe me,it wasn't always so. Rossano Brazzi was impossibly handsome and sophisticated,Ray Walston your wisecracking All-American noncom (homoerotic subtext?you're having a laugh,surely?).OK so John Kerr was a bit of a milquetoast but he was from Princeton N.J.And France Nguyen.......surely no child was ever more beautiful. I was a bit puzzled as to why Juanita Hall was dubbed because I had an L.P. at home titled "Juanita Hall sings Bessie Smith" and she sounded pretty good to me.But that was showbiz;they'd dubbed Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge in "Carmen Jones" hadn't they? And Mitzi Gaynor,surely one of the most underrated song and dance women in movies."I'm as corny as Kansas in August......"brilliant. If I'm ever on one of those endless white beaches looking out to sea and shielding my eyes against the sun,I shall fully expect Nellie Forbush and her fellow nurses to come running through the surf towards me and then I'll know I've died and gone to heaven.
While I was too young to have seen the original Broadway production -
and thus that might account for the previous criticism posted above - I
think the fault lies with the reviewer (seeing a 1950's musical in
The lighting, so criticized, added and accented the moods of the film as few films did at the time. The music, possibly without match in an American musical, fit the moods equally well - taking the viewer from the high tensions of the Young Lovers or of the eventual return of Emile. At the same time, the bawdy humorous numbers add temporary humor while the tension of the story line mounts.
Socially, the themes of race and general human cruelty are delivered to the audience without them even noticing. Something in which so many of the modern-day productions fail miserably.
Truly the most complete American musical on many levels!
This slush-fest version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's famous musical suffers
on the small screen because of its constant use of colour filters during the
songs. On a big screen, this looks great, but just looks odd on
This aside, though, this film of 'South Pacific' has much to enjoy. Mitzi Gaynor is a bubbly personality and is clearly enjoying herself as Nellie Forbush, 'washing that man out of her hair' and so on. Rossano Brazzi is charming as Emile (the singing is expertly done by Giorgio Tozzi); we can have a pang of regret that Ezio Pinza was seen to be too old to play the role by the time the film appeared - his work with Mary Martin in the original cast survives in cast recordings - but Brazzi looks the part.
John Kerr is a bit of a wet fish as Lt. Cable, while Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary is excellent, and Ray Walston as Luther, and France Nuyen as Liat, make an impression in smaller roles. The musical numbers are done extremely well - 'Bali Ha'i', 'I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy', 'Some Enchanted Evening', 'Younger Than Springtime', and 'Happy Talk' and the rest.
Where the film does flag is in the sequences where Emile and Cable go to the island to report on the Japanese invaders. This was handled rather better in the 1990s remake, and also moves along better in the stage version. Here, it clashes a bit with the romantic overtones of the rest of the production.
This is my favorite R&H musical and I play the original Broadway s/t
frequently because I love Pinza.
I agree with an earlier poster who commented that Mary Martin was much too old and earthy for the young innocent Nellie. Mitzi Gayner was perfect. I also love the different hues for the singing. It does give the movie a different feel to it.
Of all the R&H musicals, this one was the best to transfer to the screen (with exception of King and I). Too bad they can't find a complete reel of the latter movie.
And my favorite song from the show/movie is This Nearly Was Mine, a heartbreaking song if there ever was one. Pinza breaks my heart on the OBC recording. Tozzi is good, too, but Pinza is the peak.
And R&H were pressured to drop You've Got to be Carefully Taught and they refused. The racial prejudice runs right through the picture without hitting you over the head with it and it was way ahead of its time. But then the book was written by James Michener who had an Asian wife and who knew about prejudice.
I love this movie -- still!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many comments here strike me as rather peculiar -- in criticizing the distance between this film and the successful play as if filming the play would faithfully convey the play. I'm a very tough grader, and I rate this film high because:
--The story is much edgier than any other musical I have seen: prejudice and war, and places each generatively in the other in a way that comes closer to intelligent comment than we might expect for the period. More effective than contemporary `drama.' It is hard to project one's self back in time to postwar afterglow, years before the civil rights movement. Pretty remarkable if you consider the context.
--I love the cinematic vision, and yes, the use of color (and smoke and focus). It _is_ intrusive. It _does_ misdirect from the beauty of the setting. That's the point! Start with the self-conscious staging and lighting of Gauguin (`Where Are We Going?') and then distort the colors in precisely the same way! The point of the story is how defects in vision distort natural beauty (love, honor). The mapping of this to the Gauguin myth (which concerns the same matter) and the framing in an acutely self-aware camera is brilliant. The viewer is _supposed_ to be disturbed on occasion, folks. But this is placed in a context of staging that is carefully placed between reality (as much as tropical settings can be called real) and the literal stage. I cannot think of a better middle ground than this. We are reminded of the `real' stage by the show within the show. It's just all too intelligent an eye to not admire.
--I do like these two women, probably for the same reason their careers never took off. Raw natural sex, not preening glamour.
--I also like the subdued music. It clearly is not the go-for-the-rafters style one got in the broadway original, and that will put off some who should probably just listen to a record. Tastes differ, but I want to watch a successful film, and I think the toning down of the musical exuberance is a wise move. Much closer to a `Victory at Sea' feeling.
There aren't many musicals that get better than this! I have to say that my favorite part has to be the very ending when Nellie realizes how stupidly she acted and learns to love the children cause she loves Emil. I cry almost all the time. It just tugs at my heart and it's about what really went on at that time. I love the song I'm gonna wash that Man right out of my Hair. It has a good upbeat turn and corny lyrics to go with it. The songs are joyful and easy to sing along with. I've watched it so much that I can say the lines and start singing the songs before they even do. The first time I saw this I was in love. I remember the first time I was in tears when Emil sang Once nearly was mine. My heart just went out to him. It's differently top five in my book and come highly recommended by me.
|Page 1 of 12:||          |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|