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William A. Seiter
Chinese stowaway Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki) arrives in San Francisco with her father to meet her fiancé, wealthy nightclub owner Sammy Fong (Jack Soo), in an arranged marriage, but the groom has his eye on his star singer Linda Low (Nancy Kwan). This film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical is filled with memorable song-and-dance numbers showcasing the contrast between Mei Li's traditional family and her growing fascination with American culture. Written by
Forget the PC and enjoy the movie, musical numbers, actors and film titles.
The last time I saw Flower Drum Song on a big screen was at the Asian Pacific American Studies event at New York University, spurred on by David Henry Hwang's Broadway revival which received favorable reviews except for one paper. I was invited because my father created the film titles. Socialogical connotations at the event were discussed: cultural and generational conflicts, old and new set in the City on Golden Hill, the quest to achieve, etc. I have seen the original musical, the film many times, and the revival which deserved a longer run. Then the film began. I was impressed by Nancy Kwan's acting and others, memorable musical numbers and the opening and closing title paintings by my father, Dong Kingman. In many ways a beautiful film, and a case can be made, a pioneering one. Okay so it is a bit corny, a few young members of audience uneasily snickered at the stereotypes, scenes could have been cut, especially one fantasy sequence. Yet the Flower Drum Song endures and to enjoy. Rating is 7 1/2, plus half star more for dad.
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