Flower Drum Song


2h 13m 1961
Flower Drum Song

Brief Synopsis

A refugee travels to Chinatown as a mail-order bride.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Nov 1961
Production Company
Fields Productions, Inc.; Ross Hunter Productions
Distribution Company
Universal--International
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Flower Drum Song , music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Hammerstein II and Joseph Fields (New York, 1 Dec 1958), which was based on the novel of the same name by C. Y. Lee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 13m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Newly arrived in San Francisco's Chinatown is Mei Li, a "picture bride" from Hong Kong who has been chosen to be the wife of Sammy Fong, a nightclub owner. Sammy, however, is opposed to Old World marriage traditions and wants to select as his wife Linda Low, a singer and exotic dancer in his night spot. Consequently, he tries to unload Mei Li on the wealthy Wang family, who are seeking a bride for their eldest son, Wang Ta. But Ta has also been dating the wily Linda, unaware that she is merely interested in his money. At a party celebrating Ta's graduation from college and Auntie's graduation from citizenship school, the betrothal of Linda and Ta is suddenly announced, leaving Mei Li heartbroken and Sammy enraged. The latter soon has his revenge when he invites the Wangs to celebrate the Chinese New Year at his club. They abruptly call off their son's engagement when they see Linda do a spicy striptease dance. Although Ta realizes his mistake and admits his love for Mei Li, she rejects him and forces Sammy to fulfill his contractual obligations. But in the middle of the wedding ceremony, Mei Li confesses that she entered the country illegally, thereby invalidating the marriage contract. Ta happily volunteers to marry her, and Linda and Sammy decide to make it a double wedding. Songs : "You Are Beautiful" (Ta), "A Hundred Million Miracles" (Mei Li, Dr. Li & Chorus), "I Enjoy Being a Girl" (Linda), "I Am Going To Like It Here" (Mei Li), "Chop Suey" (Auntie, Ta, San & Chorus), "Don't Marry Me" (Sammy & Mei Li), "Grant Avenue" (Linda & Chorus), "Love, Look Away" (Helen), "Fan Tan Fanny" (Linda & Chorus), "Gliding Through My Memoree" (Frankie, Linda & Show Girls), "The Other Generation" (Wang, Auntie, San & San's girlfriends), "Sunday" (Sammy & Linda).

Photo Collections

Flower Drum Song - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Flower Drum Song (1961), starring Nancy Kwan. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Promo

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Nov 1961
Production Company
Fields Productions, Inc.; Ross Hunter Productions
Distribution Company
Universal--International
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Flower Drum Song , music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Hammerstein II and Joseph Fields (New York, 1 Dec 1958), which was based on the novel of the same name by C. Y. Lee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 13m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Set Decoration

1961

Best Cinematography

1961

Best Costume Design

1961
Irene Sharaff

Best Music Original Dramatic Score

1962

Best Sound

1961
Waldon O Watson

Articles

Flower Drum Song


Flower Drum Song (1961) is the only screen version of a Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II Broadway musical to be filmed by Universal Studios, and the one that many consider to have the most imaginative choreography (by Hermes Pan). The film is a splendid showcase for Nancy Kwan, a spectacularly beautiful Eurasian who was trained in classical ballet and had earlier enjoyed screen success in The World of Suzie Wong (1960). Flower Drum Song producer Ross Hunter said of his star, "Nancy Kwan is gorgeous. I'm sold on the glamour approach. After all, if you really want the girl next door, all you have to do is go over and ring the bell."

Flower Drum Song, set in San Francisco's Chinatown, takes a comic look at the clash between tradition-bound Chinese and their emancipated Chinese-American counterparts. Kwan, in the role originated on Broadway by Pat Suzuki, is Linda Low, a thoroughly Americanized showgirl who is the sultry star attraction at a nightclub run by Sammy Fong (Jack Soo). Sammy has signed a marriage contract with Mei Li (Myoshi Umeki, an Oscar winner for Sayonara, 1957), a mail-order bride from Hong Kong. But, since he and Linda are romantically involved, Sammy tries to arrange for Mei Li to marry college student Wang Ta (James Shigeta). Also participating in the romantic roundelay is Linda's seamstress (Reiko Sato), who is secretly in love with Ta.

It's all worked out with the aid of the typically jaunty Rodgers & Hammerstein songs, including "Love, Look Away," "Don't Marry Me," "A Hundred Million Miracles," "I Am Going to Like It Here," "Grant Avenue," "Chop Suey," and the best-remembered number, "I Enjoy Being a Girl," as performed by Kwan in front of a three-way mirror.

Joseph Fields, in adapting the musical's book that he co-wrote with Hammerstein, "opened up" the action so that the film could include location shooting in Chinatown. Fields' efforts won him a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for the year's best-written screen musical. Flower Drum Song also won five Oscar nominations, for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Color Cinematography, Costume Design, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound.

Myoshi Umeki repeats her role from the Broadway version, as do Juanita Hall as Madame Liang and Patrick Adiarte as Wang San. On Broadway, Jack Soo played the M.C. of the nightclub where Linda performs; in the film he graduates to being the club's owner (a role played onstage by the distinctly non-Chinese Larry Blyden). A revival of Flower Drum Song, with a new book by socially conscious playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), opened on Broadway this past fall at the Virginia Theatre with Lea Salonga in the role of Linda.

Producers: Ross Hunter, Joseph Fields (Associate)
Director: Henry Koster
Screenplay: Joseph Fields, from novel by C.Y. Lee
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Joseph C. Wright
Original Music: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Editing: Milton Carruth
Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
Principal Cast: Nancy Kwan (Linda Low), James Shigeta (Wang Ta), Miyoshi Umeki (Mei Li), Benson Fong (Wang), Jack Soo (Sammy Fong), Juanita Hall (Madame "Auntie" Liang), Reiko Sato (Helen Chao), Patrick Adiarte (Wang San), Kam Tong (Doctor Li).
C-132m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
Flower Drum Song

Flower Drum Song

Flower Drum Song (1961) is the only screen version of a Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II Broadway musical to be filmed by Universal Studios, and the one that many consider to have the most imaginative choreography (by Hermes Pan). The film is a splendid showcase for Nancy Kwan, a spectacularly beautiful Eurasian who was trained in classical ballet and had earlier enjoyed screen success in The World of Suzie Wong (1960). Flower Drum Song producer Ross Hunter said of his star, "Nancy Kwan is gorgeous. I'm sold on the glamour approach. After all, if you really want the girl next door, all you have to do is go over and ring the bell." Flower Drum Song, set in San Francisco's Chinatown, takes a comic look at the clash between tradition-bound Chinese and their emancipated Chinese-American counterparts. Kwan, in the role originated on Broadway by Pat Suzuki, is Linda Low, a thoroughly Americanized showgirl who is the sultry star attraction at a nightclub run by Sammy Fong (Jack Soo). Sammy has signed a marriage contract with Mei Li (Myoshi Umeki, an Oscar winner for Sayonara, 1957), a mail-order bride from Hong Kong. But, since he and Linda are romantically involved, Sammy tries to arrange for Mei Li to marry college student Wang Ta (James Shigeta). Also participating in the romantic roundelay is Linda's seamstress (Reiko Sato), who is secretly in love with Ta. It's all worked out with the aid of the typically jaunty Rodgers & Hammerstein songs, including "Love, Look Away," "Don't Marry Me," "A Hundred Million Miracles," "I Am Going to Like It Here," "Grant Avenue," "Chop Suey," and the best-remembered number, "I Enjoy Being a Girl," as performed by Kwan in front of a three-way mirror. Joseph Fields, in adapting the musical's book that he co-wrote with Hammerstein, "opened up" the action so that the film could include location shooting in Chinatown. Fields' efforts won him a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for the year's best-written screen musical. Flower Drum Song also won five Oscar nominations, for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Color Cinematography, Costume Design, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound. Myoshi Umeki repeats her role from the Broadway version, as do Juanita Hall as Madame Liang and Patrick Adiarte as Wang San. On Broadway, Jack Soo played the M.C. of the nightclub where Linda performs; in the film he graduates to being the club's owner (a role played onstage by the distinctly non-Chinese Larry Blyden). A revival of Flower Drum Song, with a new book by socially conscious playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), opened on Broadway this past fall at the Virginia Theatre with Lea Salonga in the role of Linda. Producers: Ross Hunter, Joseph Fields (Associate) Director: Henry Koster Screenplay: Joseph Fields, from novel by C.Y. Lee Cinematography: Russell Metty Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Joseph C. Wright Original Music: Richard Rodgers Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II Editing: Milton Carruth Costume Design: Irene Sharaff Principal Cast: Nancy Kwan (Linda Low), James Shigeta (Wang Ta), Miyoshi Umeki (Mei Li), Benson Fong (Wang), Jack Soo (Sammy Fong), Juanita Hall (Madame "Auntie" Liang), Reiko Sato (Helen Chao), Patrick Adiarte (Wang San), Kam Tong (Doctor Li). C-132m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

So where are you folks from?
- Policeman
The East.
- Mei Li
Oh, New York, huh?
- Policeman
Further east.
- Dr. Li
You smell good. You wear incense to scare away evil spirits?
- Mei Li
Oh no, to attract them!
- Linda
You've been going to U.S. citizenship classes for five years, and the only thing you can tell me is "this is not China!".
- Wang
Who robbed you? What did he look like?
- Madame 'Auntie' Liang
I don't know. All white men look alike.
- Wang

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 1961

Released in United States Fall November 1961