South Pacific (1958)

Genres - Drama, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance, Musical Drama, War Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 19, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 171 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Betzold

On the heels of such hit films as Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I, the Broadway songwriting duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein produced this Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical based on James Michener's novel, Tales of the South Pacific. The film version is the epic story of a young American Navy nurse (Mitzi Gaynor) who falls in love with a French planter (Rossano Brazzi) during World War II. Long-awaited, the lavish, big-budget film was shot almost entirely on location in Hawaii and became a box-office hit even though it disappointed many critics. Director Joshua Logan changed color filters to emphasize the moods of different characters, an experiment that looks dated and amateurish in retrospect. But the lush photography and well-staged musical numbers carry the ambitious, three-hour film, in which Gaynor holds her own despite her controversial casting over Broadway veteran Mary Martin, who originated the role (and who also saw Julie Andrews take the the role that she originated in The Sound of Music). Memorable songs include "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" and "Some Enchanted Evening."