South Pacific (1958)

"Excellent"

South Pacific (1958) Review


This is an embarrassing statement for a man to make but I think that South Pacific is one of my favorite old movies. As an art form, the musical is dubious at best. And Joshua Logan was not one of the great Hollywood directors -- as demonstrated by the film's uneven pacing and use of colorful camera filters during certain intense scenes.

So why is this movie a classic? Because it was produced soon after WWII, when even Hollywood war romances had a serious edge. Because it was filmed on location (well, Hawaii, I think) and in full Technicolor glamour. And because the occasion brought out the best in Rodgers and Hammerstein, when the songwriting team wrote poignant and thoughtful lyrics put to classic melodies.

The musical was based on James Michener's novel, which was based on Michener's tour of duty in the Pacific. So the novel, musical, and movie all have more authenticity than is typical of musicals or war movies (or Michener novels). Most of the script's pathos and drama stem from the forced clash of American and island cultures, and the film captures the tragedy of war without on-camera blood. The romance between an American sailor and a Tonkinese island girl is an interesting case of Hollywood tackling a sensitive subject head-on. The movie's treatment of racism is not its greatest strength, but still is less awkward than a lot of movies that won plenty of Oscars.

A few years ago, I read an article in the New York Times accusing Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals of being inferior to today's musicals because no lead character ever dies in them. I'm not sure that the number of dead bodies should be the only criterion for judging art -- was Die Hard 2 a thousand times better than Citizen Kane? -- but the Times reporter was guilty of sloppy reporting, because one of the leads in South Pacific does, in fact, die at the end of this movie. That's still a low body count by today's standards, but there's enough drama in this film to make it clear that the filmmakers, and their audience, knew that war is hell.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.