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|Index||107 reviews in total|
Commence groaning as necessary for that summary, but at least prepare
to be dazzled by R&H's most amazing, underrated musical of all time.
The love story is between a spirited young Navy nurse and an older French planter who's afraid of losing anything. While that makes for some very groan-friendly moments, everything is forgiven when you peer through the weird, multi-colored lenses and pay attention to what's actually going on: a fantastic story (besides the romance) is unfolding. It's the story of a world where everything is changing, and the road down that way could not have been better.
There's lots to love here, so don't be distracted by what you can use to maul this movie. The performances are great, the songs are probably the only songs I've never minded having looped in my head that weren't written by Richard O'Brien, and the beauty of the South Pacific is something that would be amazing to behold anywhere from a majestic silver screen to a tiny little kitchen-table TV set.
As far as musicals go, this is one of my all-time favorites and should be the same for more people.
Although Rogers and Hammerstein wrote many great musicals, I believe
that overall the score of South Pacific is the strongest, producing
many 'old standards'.
"There is Nothing' Like a Dame", "Younger than Springtime", "Bali Hai", Gonna Wash that Man Right outa my Hair", and the eternal "Some Enchanted Evening" are major highlights, but many other delightful and strong songs help fill this impressive musical.
Of course there is a love story, but there is also a strong lesson of the dangers of bigotry even for people who would never imagine themselves to be so.
Many have criticized the filters used in camera shots during many songs (and a few other scenes). It was ground breaking at the time, and certainly different. Although I myself would certainly rather see the 'pure colors' of those scenes as well, I can respect the wish of the cinematographer to try something that had really seldom been done in major films, but is a staple of still photography.
Unless you just hate musicals, this is a must see film in its genre.
The Broadway version of South Pacific was an amazing breakthrough in
confronting attitudes that today's politically correct culture would
consider completely racist. According to Mary Martin and others, she
received death threats and the play was picketed regularly, which is
hard to believe now.
I have to hope the Broadway version moved along a bit faster than the movie version, or there would have been a massive exodus from the unforgiving New York crowd. I can only guess that Josh Logan was feeling the humid heat of those islands, because the pace of the film is not just temperate, it's downright slow. I know it's hard to fit in songs when you're not used to doing musicals, but it only got worse from here for him (Camelot and Paint Your Wagon were just dreadful). If we're trying to get across that the machine of the military moved inexplicably slow, I got it, but I don't think that's it. I think it's Josh.
The music, of course, is wonderful. And I loved Mitzi Gaynor. I think she's perfect as light-hearted, silly Nellie, who lives within boundaries she's never even thought about, but suddenly finds some strength of character when she realizes that she loves someone without reservation. I'm not a fan of choosing the actor and having him lip sync, but Rossano certainly did so with feeling. Ray Ralston played his usual belligerent/con artist character. And who knew Tom Laughlin could act like a human being instead of just Billy Jack? Nice appearance there.
The colored filters are unfortunate. Good thing all the other directors saw Josh's mistake and didn't head down that rainbow road.
And I still find the job that Oscar Hammerstein III did of condensing James Michener's collection of short stories into this socially relevant (at the time) play truly amazing.
I gave the movie a seven because musicals always get five from me, the concept of the movie/play is great (if it gives us a reminder of where we've been), and the acting solid. I have to think that, in the hands of a better director, this movie might be dated, but truly wonderful.
This is indeed one of the classics of musical theater but the use of the colored filters during many of the musical numbers was very distracting. I have this movie on laser disc and every time I watch it I want to choke whoever was responsible for giving the go ahead to this failed experiment. There they are in one of the most beautiful places in the world to shoot a movie and they use colored filters to take out most of the color during the best moments of the film. I also felt that with certain songs (particularly Mitzi Gaynor's) that there should have been considerably more dancing. Instead she sings 70% of most of her songs directly into the camera. Why did they hire a dancer for that role in the first place if they weren't going to have her dance?
The most obvious flaw is its running time, it's very long. I think it's
longer than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Unfortunately there were other
flaws with the movie, so I can't overlook what I've just said. Another
flaw was the colour filtering;the orange and yellow picture did get a
bit distracting after a while, although the Pacific does look
beautiful. Rossano Brazzi, whose singing voice was dubbed, looked
wooden, but was he ever not wooden? I must say though, the dubbed
singer did a marvellous job.
However, there were a lot of truly excellent things about this movie. Mitsi Gaynor was a lovely lead, and she was wonderful in the musical numbers. She does get a little tiresome toward the end, but most musicals do have the same problem. But Juanita Hall was just perfect as Bloody Mary, I had absolutely no problem with her. The songs were absolutely outstanding. Rodgers and Hammerstein have given us some truly fantastic music scores, and South Pacific is among them. Ray Walston gives comic relief as Luther, I think, and the focus on the war was very endearing. The real star was the stunning choreography, that made the musical numbers so energetic.
All in all, an entertaining, but flawed film, that is underrated in my opinion. 7/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My parents took me to see this film when it came out, and it had a
powerful affect on me. I sensed the profound sadness in the film,
concerning the loss of life and love as a result of war. I loved the
musical numbers and to this day, some of these songs still reverberate
in my mind. South Pacific was also one of the motion pictures that
would influence me to seek a career in the film industry.
If by some chance you've never seen this film, rent the DVD, turn up the home theater system, pop some corn and enjoy it for what it is, a slice of cinematic history. Accept it for what it is, a beautifully photographed movie about war and race acceptance, advanced for it's day.
Try to ignore the negatives that have been written about it here. Yes, the directing seems like it could have been better. I think director Logan wanted the visuals and music to tell the story, rather than the typical, unrealistic overacting of the day. To me, this is not deary or plodding, it is the way real people are. Plays typically push acting over the top, to get the audience involved in what is going on up on the stage. Understatement is a real film technique in which Logan was probably ahead of his time with. Another technique he used, which breaks another rule, is having Mitzi Gaynor sing "I'm In Love" directly into the lens of the camera. This breaks down the traditional "fourth wall" found in most theater and film. He seemed to want to push new, radical ideas, while at the same time, pull way back on the performances.
The one thing I have trouble getting past, and forgiving him of, is the filming of musical and other scenes through colored gels. He actually shot the raw footage with the gels on the front of the camera lens, which means that all the film is stuck with the color and other affects. Even in that day, this could have been easily done in post production, when the final master print was being created. That way, the original would not be "ruined" with an experiment that doesn't work. Of course, with today's computer technology, most of the color could be stripped from the film. But, that would be revisionist and monkeying with a classic film and won't ever happen. Plus, the expense would be high. So it is what it is. A distracting and annoying experiment that didn't work.
I've also read some remarks here about the sync of the film, critical of the actors lip syncing. As most movie buffs know, the actors sing along with a prerecorded sound track, that was recorded in a sound studio, sometimes months prior to filming. They do practice to the track before filming and typically can match the song perfectly, even if they didn't sing the original. But I've noticed as I watch the film today, that the whole sync is out. This would be an artifact of digital technology, in which the picture and sound are processed separately, and when broadcast, don't always arrive to your TV set exactly at the same time, as it appears to be the case as I watch it on TCM. Also, if the sync is out in the original film, that is more the fault of the film editor, than the actor. By the way, this whole film was looped, which means all the dialog was re-recorded afterward in a sound studio, with sound effects added afterward. But this was pretty standard for the day, as well.
Personally, I think the strong but restrained performances and wonderful songs make this a film to be watched at least once if you are a fan, lover, or student of classic cine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would recommend the soundtrack of this film far more than seeing the
film itself. There are some really fun and catchy songs ("Wash that Man
Right out of my Hair" and "There is Nothing like a Dame") as well as
the provocative "You have to be Very Carefully Taught". The movie
itself is very (way too) long, story too wide-spread, and it seems to
be (clumsily) strung together only to incorporate the great songs,
whose arrivals are generally awkward. The love story- it's hard to care
about. Mitzi Gaynor was a cold fish. Mentally you wanted her to
overcome her raised in a small town closed-mindedness, if nothing else
to just give a chance to Emile's character- but there wasn't any
romance you could feel. Cable and Bloody Mary's daughter's romance
evoked more affection, strangely, since they barely spoke two sentences
to each other.
The hazy color that would come on for every other song was bizarre; we wondered if it was an old worn out tape at first until the frequency of the occurrences cleared that up. I think the movie aimed admirably high and landed somewhere in the middle. I think the message is that love can be found anywhere, that it forms in the heart, mind and soul- and is not to be determined (or deterred) by skin color or nationality.
Worth seeing once.
Having read the original stage script for this show, I find the film
version very disappointing. Much of the connective dialogue was axed
for scenery shots and a rubber boat. Even the wonderful songs were
hyphenated. Luciano Brazzi may be a 'hotty' for the ladies, but most of
the time he wears a constipated scowl and does a lousy job of
lip-syncing to songs. Mitzi Gainor is fabulous; a saving grace.
The real culprit here is the director, Joshua Logan. From what I understand, an accomplished stage director, but it is very obvious he is lost in the film medium. Clunky staging and lonnnnnnng static shots abound. Emile crooning his love song of 'Some enchanted evening' to Nellie while his body language with his arm blocking her off makes me cringe. And don't get me started about those color filters! They actually work in the Bali Hai number, but later on in the love scene, well, as another reviewer wrote, "obviously, love is best served soaked in urine" There are good acting performances, however. Ray Walson, as Billis, is excellent, but a lot of his dialogue is axed and butchered, and that coconut bra stage dance is embarrassing, not funny.
All in all, the movie is paced too slow, and with the connective dialog removed, has no flow. Too bad. This could have been a lot, lot better. I hope this movie will not stop people from seeing a good stage production of it. It is an excellent musical. On the other hand, if you like this movie, you're gonna LOVE a good stage showing.
Having taped this off HBO nearly 22 years ago, I finally got to see the 1958 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific just now (I had also seen the PBS Great Performances Carnegie Hall version with Reba McEntire, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Alec Baldwin last year). Mostly wonderful film version although I agree with most posters that the color filters during the songs can be a little distracting. Mitzi Gaynor is fine as Nurse Nellie Forbush in singing, dancing, and especially acting that I don't understand the criticism against her. Rossano Brazzi is likewise (although his singing, like the other cast members, was dubbed) as paramour Emile de Becque. John Kerr does indeed seem stilted and the dubbed singing of him is so obvious and I can't believe completely his love for France Nuyen. Ms. Nuyen is luminous, by the way. Juanita Hall and Ray Walston (who I first encountered as Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemount High) also lend fine support. That all said, this is classic R & H all the way in line with The Sound of Music, The King and I, Oklahoma!, and Carousel. P.S. Thurl Ravenscroft was the singing voice of Stewpot in the "There is Nothing Like a Dame" number. You might know him best as Tony the tiger and the singer of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
This is one of the seminal musicals of the modern age. The music is
magnificent and very memorable. The tunes have remained American classics
for over four decades.
The cinematography is breathtaking, especially the Bali Hai scene.
Mitzi Gaynor's performance is one of the most under-rated roles in cinema history. It was virtually slandered by lovers of Mary Martin, who was reportedly magnificent on Broadway but could not have carried the role on screen.
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