Cast & Crew
Sent on a mission to the South Pacific during World War II, Marine lieutenant Joseph Cable catches his first glance of the islands as his plane sails overhead. Meanwhile, on the beach below, Luther Billis, a fast-talking, wise-cracking sailor, tries to sell grass skirts to Bloody Mary, the bawdy trader who controls the concession. Billis is peeved that the island of Balai Ha'i, a treasure trove of beautiful women, souvenir trinkets and the legendary Boar's Tooth Ceremony, is off limits to enlisted men. Upon landing, Joe feels drawn to the nearby, fog-shrouded island while Bloody Mary leers at the young officer. At headquarters, Joe informs Capt. George Brackett, the head of the base, that he has been sent to establish a beachhead on Japanese territory along the coast in order to observe the movements of enemy vessels. To accomplish this, Joe hopes to enlist the aid of Emile de Becque, a mysterious French planter who possesses an intimate knowledge of the area. While Joe is outlining his plans, Emile is entertaining Navy nurse Nellie Forbush. The soulful, disillusioned Emile finds himself attracted to the bubbling, optimistic and younger Nellie. Finally overcoming his reticence, Emile declares his love and proposes, then confides that years earlier, he killed a bully in his hometown in France and was forced to flee to the islands. Aware of Nellie's relationship with Emile, the captain summons her to headquarters to question her about his politics. When they realize that she is unaware of his previous marriage or the children resulting from that union, Joe advises Nellie to forget her Frenchman. When the captain tries to enlist Emile in Joe's mission, Emile responds that he has too much to lose and that his experience with the bully has made him leery of becoming involved in causes. To ease Joe's disappointment, the captain suggests that he unwind, and Joe soon finds himself on a boat with Billis bound for Balai Ha'i. As the others watch the Boar's Tooth Ceremony, Bloody Mary introduces Joe to her young daughter Liat, and Joe immediately falls under the exotic girl's spell. Later, when the sound of the bell calls Joe back to his boat, he passionately kisses Liat and leaves in a daze. At Emile's estate, a party in Nellie's honor is ending, and after the guests depart, Emile finally introduces Nellie to his half-Polynesian children. Horrified that Emile was once married to a Polynesian, Nellie makes an excuse and hastily leaves. At this point, the film stops for a brief intermission. Some time later, Joe returns to Balai Ha'i to see Liat, and Bloody Mary mentions that a rich French planter has expressed an interest in marrying her daughter. As a gesture of love, Joe presents Liat with his grandfather's treasured pocket watch, but when he states that he will never be able to marry Liat, Bloody Mary snatches the watch from the girl's hands and returns it to Joe. As Thanksgiving approaches, Nellie, the star and choreographer of the base's Thanksgiving Follies, finds it hard to concentrate on the performance when her personal life is so painful. During a rehearsal, she breaks into tears and requests a transfer. The captain convinces her to reconsider, but when she receives flowers and an endearing note from Emile after the show, she runs from the stage and encounters Joe, who has just recovered from malaria. Recognizing that they are both suffering from lost loves, Joe confides that during his illness, all he could think about was Liat. Joe wonders why he finds himself unable to marry Liat, and Nellie suggests that they both need to return home where they belong. When Emile suddenly appears, Nellie informs him that her inbred bigotry will not allow her to marry him. Joe, in contrast, decides to defy convention and remain on the island with Liat. With nothing left to lose, Emile agrees to join Joe on his mission. After establishing a watch post in the hills, Joe and Emile begin to radio back information about the enemy position. Two weeks later, U.S. warplanes, guided by Joe and Emile's invaluable reports, have successfully driven back the Japanese. Concerned about Emile's safety, Nellie eagerly listens to his broadcasts, and when she learns that Joe has been killed, she realizes that she still loves Emile and prays for his safe return. For solace, Nellie goes to Emile's children, and as she sings one of their favorite French songs, Emile returns and they tenderly join hands.
Richard H. Cutting
Mary Jo Flanders
Jim De Closs
Charles R. Rogers
Yvonne De Lavallade
L. B. Abbott
Robert Russell Bennett
John De Cuir
Walter De Hart
Paul S. Fox
Oscar Hammerstein Ii
Emil Kosa Jr.
W. A. Machado
Edward B. Powell
Walter M. Scott
Capt. W. E. Starbuck
Lyle R. Wheeler
Lt. Commander J. N. Williams Jr.
South Pacific - South Pacific
South Pacific was born when Navy lieutenant James A. Michener found himself stationed on a small Pacific island in 1945. Out of boredom, he wrote a group of stories based on his wartime experiences, then compiled them as Tales of the South Pacific, which won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize. Joshua Logan, who would eventually direct the show, thought the book had stage potential and suggested it to Rodgers. At first, they saw "Fo' Dolla," the tale of an upper-crust naval officer in love with a native girl, as the main plot. But when they learned that Metropolitan Opera star Ezio Pinza was interested in trying Broadway, they focused instead on "Our Heroine," about the romance between a French planter and a Navy nurse, using "Fo' Dolla" as a subplot. For leading lady, they wanted Mary Martin, who was then starring in the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun, but first they had to convince her that she could hold her own vocally opposite Pinza. Eventually, they created a score in which the romantic leads never sang together. But the songs and the intelligent treatment of a serious topic, racial prejudice, were so strong, that hardly anyone noticed the lack of any conventional romantic duets. South Pacific was a triumph that ran five years, won a Pulitzer Prize of its own and generated intense interest in Hollywood.
Wanting to protect their work, however, Rodgers and Hammerstein decided to produce the film versions of their great shows themselves, starting with Oklahoma! in 1955. Since each film received their personal attention, by the time they started working on South Pacific in 1957, they couldn't use the show's original leads. Although many thought Martin too old for the role by then, they would have used her if Pinza hadn't died. With his passing, they didn't think there was an actor strong enough to hold his own as her love interest. Ultimately, the only member of the original Broadway cast to make it to the film was Juanita Hall, who had won a Tony for her performance as Bloody Mary, the island con artist whose daughter falls in love with an American officer. The only other performer who had done South Pacific on stage was Ray Walston, who had played comic relief Luther Bills in the touring company and in London.
With Logan signed to direct, they started searching for the perfect leading lady. Many in Hollywood thought Doris Day was ideal, but Logan was afraid that she would simply play herself. When he turned up at the same Hollywood party as Day, he hoped he might see her spontaneous side, particularly when other guests urged her to sing. But her refusal to do an impromptu number convinced him she just wasn't right for the role.
Then entrepreneur Michael Todd suggested his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. When the songwriters protested that she wasn't a singer, he told them she sang around the house all the time. They arranged an interview, and Taylor showed up looking fit, thin and freckled from time outdoors - exactly what they were looking for. But when they asked her to sing, she was so intimidated by Rodgers that she could barely squeak out a note. When Logan took her down to the lobby, Todd was waiting and she greeted her husband with a full-voiced rendition of "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy." Suddenly, she was wonderful, but Logan couldn't convince Rodgers to give her another chance, nor did they want to have their female lead dubbed.
Finally, Mitzi Gaynor, a veteran of film musicals, put in a bid for the role and even offered to do a screen test. It took two tests -- for the second one, Rodgers changed the key of her song and slowed it a bit -- but she won the role. Logan's friends warned him that he'd have to hold her back or she'd overplay the role and bury it in cuteness, but she turned in a solid, professional performance.
She was also the only one of the four leads to do her own singing. After listening to Hall's pre-recorded songs, Rodgers and Hammerstein decided they didn't like the way her voice had changed since the Broadway run and insisted on dubbing her with Muriel Smith, an opera singer who had played Bloody Mary in London. There was no question about dubbing John Kerr, who played the lieutenant involved with Hall's daughter; he was a dramatic actor with no musical ability. But he worked so hard at matching the pre-recorded vocals that many viewers still insist he did his own singing.
The biggest vocal disappointment was Rossano Brazzi, cast as the French planter. Rodgers and Hammerstein had been enthralled with his performance as Katharine Hepburn's romantic interest in Summertime (1955) and had insisted that he could sing the role. Brazzi was so excited that he even cut a record in his native Italy. But when the songwriters heard it, they realized they'd made a mistake. They hired another opera star, Giorgio Tozzi, to record his songs. Only Brazzi was none too pleased with the decision. When it came time to film his numbers on location in Hawaii, he kept making mistakes, complaining that he couldn't sing to "this god##mn cheap sh#t voice" (recounted in Joshua Logan's biography, Movie Stars, Real People, and Me). Logan only got him to do the scenes right when he threatened to find another actor.
Otherwise there was only one problem during the location filming. The Navy had supplied extras, landing craft, trucks, jeeps and uniforms free of charge. But when Logan needed to film Kerr and Walston's arrival on Bali Ha'i, with thousands of extras greeting them, the cutter the Navy had supplied was so decrepit it kept breaking down. They had to get a second ship and shoot an extra day that put the film thousands of dollars over budget.
That was more than made up for by South Pacific's strong performance at the box office, particularly in England, where it ran for five years at one theatre. That engagement alone was enough to pay the $6 million budget. But the critics were less than pleased. Many complained that Mary Martin should have been cast in the role she'd made famous on Broadway. Others complained about Logan's decision to use tinted photography for some of the musical numbers.
And Logan agreed with them. He'd suggested the idea as a way of visually blending the musical numbers with the film's exotic, natural locations. Just in case it didn't work, he wanted to film them two ways: once with color filters and once with natural color. Producer Buddy Adler supported that decision at first, but then he told Logan that the lab could take out the tinting if they didn't like it. What he didn't tell him was that the process would take three months. Logan shot the whole film with tinted musical sequences, then realized during previews that they didn't work. But when he asked to have them removed, he found out that it couldn't be done in time to meet the film's bookings, so it went out with the tinting. In his memoirs, he would write that he wanted to picket each showing of the film with a sign reading, "I DIRECTED IT, AND I DON'T LIKE THE COLOR EITHER!"
Producer: Buddy Adler
Director: Joshua Logan
Screenplay: Paul Osborne
Based on the Play by Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers and Logan, from the book Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler, John DeCuir, Walter M. Scott, Paul S. Fox
Music: Richard Rodgers
Cast: Rossano Brazzi (Emile De Becque), Mitzi Gaynor (Nellie Forbush), John Kerr (Lt. Cable), Ray Walston (Luther Billis), Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary), France Nuyen (Liat), Tom Laughlin (Buzz Adams), Ron Ely (Co-Pilot), Doug McClure (Pilot in Hospital).
C-158m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller
South Pacific - South Pacific
If all you care about is here, this is a good place to be.- Emile de Becque
This is something that's born in me!- Nellie
What makes her talk like that--you and she? I do not believe it is born in you! I do not believe it!- Emile de Becque
It's not born in you--it happens after you're born!- Lt. Cable
Early casting considerations for the role of Nellie Forbush included 'Day, Doris' , Audrey Hepburn, and 'Taylor, Elizabeth' .
Concerned that the film's lush tropical settings would appear unnatural in Technicolor, Director Joshua Logan hoped to soften the effect by filming several scenes through colored filters.
Juanita Hall, who played Bloody Mary in the original Broadway production, sang her own songs onstage, but was dubbed in the film version at the request of composer 'Rodgers, Richard' . The filmmakers (i.e., Rodgers and musical director Alfred Newman) brought in Muriel Smith (who played the Bloody Mary role in London).
Partially restores the song "Loneliness of Evening," which had been deleted from the stage version. The lyrics turn up in the form of a poem sent by Emile de Becque to Nellie Forbush. (The full song was used in the 1965 television adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1965) (TV).)
Joshua Logan considered virtually every top actress of the day for the role of Nellie Forbush, including Elizabeth Taylor, 'Doris Day' , Audrey Hepburn and even Ginger Rogers.
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.
Released in United States on Video September 13, 1990
Released in United States Spring April 1958
Released in United States Spring April 1958
Released in United States on Video September 13, 1990