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The film's title card reads: "Rodgers and Hammerstein present South Pacific." The picture opens with a three-minute, thirty-second musical overture. An intermission occurs after "Nellie" discovers that "Emile" was previously married to a Polynesian woman. Following the intermission, a musical Entra'acte leading up to the second half of the film is played for two minutes, fifty seconds. The opening credits are followed by the following written acknowledgment: "The producers thank the Department of Defense, the Navy Department, the United States Pacific Fleet, and the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, for their assistance in bringing this motion picture to the screen." The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in their order. The opening cast lineup includes a credit for "The Voice of Giorgio Tozzi" [Rossano Brazzi's singing voice]. Tozzi's name does not appear in the end credits, however.
According to studio publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, although the picture was made by Twentieth Century-Fox, it was considered a South Pacific Enterprises, Inc. production, and was copyrighted under that corporation's title. According to the Variety review, South Pacific Enterprises, Inc. was a capital gains partnership between the Magna Theatre Corp., Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, II, Joshua Logan and Leland Hayward. Magna controlled the Todd-AO Process roadshow distribution rights to the picture while Fox released the film in CinemaScope after the twice-a-day special roadshow engagements had run their course. An October 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Fox put up $2,000,000 in production costs in return for ten percent of the profits and worldwide distribution rights. The budget for the film totaled $5,000,000. In 1983, the Samuel Goldwyn Company acquired the distribution rights for re-release from the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate, according to an April 1983 Hollywood Reporter news item. The print viewed was the Goldwyn re-release. An October 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Charles Boyer, Vittorio De Sica and Fernando Lamas tested for the role of "Emile," and an April 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Ed Byrnes auditioned for the role of "Lt. Joseph Cable."
According to an American Cinematographer article, cinematographer Leon Shamroy used lights and filters to change the color of the film for dramatic emphasis. For example, when Lt. Cable walks back from his initial meeting with "Liat," the color of the screen turns to magenta, and when "Nellie" sings about a canary sky, the sky turns yellow. Location filming on the Hawaiian island of Kauai began on August 12, 1957, according to studio publicity materials. In the film's publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library, producer Buddy Adler added that backgrounds were also shot on the Fiji Islands, and that one day was spent filming a joint Naval-Marine operation on Kauai.
Juanita Hall also played "Bloody Mary" in the Broadway production. Although Hall sang in the stage production, her singing voice was dubbed by Muriel Smith in the film. The Broadway production starred Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza. Pinza was to reprise the role of "Emile" in the film, but died in May 1957, prior to the start of production. The song "My Girl Back Home," a favorite of Rodgers and Hammerstein's that was not in the Broadway version, was reinstated for the film version. The song was eliminated from the stage version because of the show's length. The picture marked the screen debuts of France Nuyen and Ron Ely. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Musical Scoring, and won an Academy Award for Best Sound. On March 26, 2001 ABC broadcast South Pacific, a made-for-television movie based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr., directed by Richard Pearce.