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
Worth the wait - director Henry Koster's Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song" finally available on DVD as Special Edition
The 1961 musical "Flower Drum Song" is a fabulous Ross Hunter  production (top-notch art direction, cinematography, costume design, set decoration, film editing and sound). I found myself enjoying it more and more. I do like "The King and I" "Oklahoma!" "Carousel", yet "Flower Drum Song" is culturally diverse, 'oriental USA' and very much San Franciscan. Directed by Henry Koster , music and lyrics from the popular pair of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, with Alfred Newman supervised & conducted the music score which included a wide spectrum from Asian 'flower drum song' tune, to jazzy rhythm, strings orchestral for ballet/dance pieces, to montage songs and cabaret show numbers / big band melodies; associate vocal music arranger Ken Darby, and simply marvelous choreography by Hermes Pan.
Such a stellar cast: Nancy Kwan as Linda Low and Jack Soo as Sammy, Miyoshi Umeki as Mei Li and James Shigeta as Ta, Juanita Hall (of "South Pacific" 1958 fame) as Madam Liang / 'my wife's sister,' Benson Fong as Ta's father / 'my sister's husband,' Reiko Sato as Helen Chao (the seamstress), and what an amazing, versatile dancer Patrick Adiarte is (his debut role was in "The King and I" 1956 as the eldest prince opposite Yul Brynner). The musical numbers and songs are catchy and entertaining, matching key segments of the storyline: A Hundred Million Miracles; (What Are We Going To Do About) The Other Generation; Chop Suey; I Enjoy Being A Girl; Sunday (Sweet Sunday); Fan Tan Fannie; Grant Avenue; Love Look Away (sung by Marilyn Horne); Don't Marry Me; and more. Turning on the subtitles feature, one can see the lyrics and easy to sing along, too.
Based on C.Y. Lee's novel of the same name, Joseph Fields (also associate producer) wrote an engaging screenplay, blended humor and 'coined' words of the times within the dialogs. Juanita Hall's grocery food order ("four pounds of seahorse, two pounds of dry snake meat, a box of longevity noodles") over the phone ending with "and a dozen thousand-year eggs, and be sure they're fresh" is an absolute gem. Imagine TV turned out to be a resource of solution to our heroines and their beaus romantic predicaments. Unforgettable: Mei Li said to Ta, "tomorrow we must go to Temple of Tin How and thank the Goddess of Heaven for television." Such quality produced films are rare these days. If you don't usually watch musicals, give "Flower Drum Song" a try, it's drama and humor would provide an enjoyable time.
 Memorables produced by Ross Hunter: "The Chalk Garden" 1964 (d: Ronald Neame; Hayley Mills, Deborah Kerr, John Mills); "Pillow Talk" 1959 (with Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Thelma Ritter, Tony Randall); "Imitation of Life" 1959 (d: Douglas Sirk; Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Sandra Dee)
 Favorites directed by Henry Koster: "Three Smart Girls" 1936 with Deanna Durbin; "The Singing Nun" 1966 with Debbie Reynolds. Highly recommend - intelligent drama with suspense (in B/W, not a musical): "No Highway in the Sky" 1951with James Stewart as an aeronautical engineer who's steadfast and persistent, Glynis Johns as the sensible and caring air hostess, and Marlene Dietrich as only Dietrich could. (VHS only as yet)
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