Flower Drum Song (1961)

Genres - Musical, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy  |   Release Date - Nov 9, 1961 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 133 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The weakest of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musicals to be adapted for the screen, Flower Drum Song is noteworthy for its use of Asian characters and actors of Asian descent. Unfortunately, those characters are not given a great deal of depth -- or, more precisely, the attempts at giving them depth are entirely too shallow. Neither the characters nor the theme -- old ways vs. new ways -- are really delved into, with the result that the entire enterprise comes across as rather plastic and artificial. In such circumstances, an exceptionally strong score is required to make up for the deficiencies in the script. Song has a number of first rate songs, such as the haunting "Love Look Away and the charming "I Am Going to Like It Here," which contains one of Hammerstein's most interestingly constructed lyrics, as well as the "guilty pleasure" of "I Enjoy Being a Girl." However, these are offset by the likes of the embarrassing "Chop Suey" and the hokey "The Other Generation." On the plus side, the cast is strong, with Myoshi Umeki absolutely endearing and enchanting, Linda Kwan sexy and saucy, Jack Soo nonchalantly amusing, and Patrick Adiarte provides some dazzling dance moves. "I Enjoy Being a Girl" is given the most effective production, and "Sunday" the most entertainingly bizarre. The "Love Look Away" ballet is impressive, but it ultimately is a tremendous amount of time wasted on a secondary character. Far from a classic, Song is still entertaining, especially for aficionados of the musical film.