For its Blu-ray release, South Pacific underwent a complete photochemical restoration of its original 65mm negative, and underwent an 8k high definition scan of the brand new interpositive. For the first time in high defi... more »nition, you can enjoy Leon Shamroy's widescreen photography of the Hawaiian locations and be dazzled by director Joshua Logan?s famous filtered sequences. The original soundtrack will, for the first time ever, be presented in uncompressed, Lossless DTS audio.« less
Christopher T Koppel | Washington, DC | 12/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw South Pacific when it was released in 1958 at the age of 10, and remember being totally overwhelmed by the orchestrations, performances and photography. Over the years I have regularly heard the film trashed by critics and many members of the public, so I was curious to see how I would respond to it now when I recently bought the video. Well, maybe it's just me, but I found the film as thrilling and beautiful as I did forty years ago. I agree with everyone else that it was a mistake to use those colored filters in many of the sequences, but the film still packs a heck of an emotional whallop, and I think along with The King and I stands out as the most successful of the Rogers and Hammerstein shows put on film. The weakest of the cast is John Kerr, who is somewhat wooden; however, Juanita Hall is magnificent as Bloody Mary (she will never be surpassed in the role she createwd on Braodway), Rossano Brazzi is thoroghly convincing as Emille DeBeque (even if he was dubbed by Giorgio Tozzi), and Mitzi Gaynor gives an unforgettable performance as Nelly Forbrush. Of all of the criticism one hears of South Pacific, to me the most puzzling is the bashing of Mitzi Gaynor, who to me is not only excellent but perfection in the role. I realize a lot of this probably stems from anger that Mary Martin didn't get the role and is basically sour grapes, but the fact is Ms. Martin was too old to be convincing in 1958. The scenes in which Ms. Gaynor struggles with her small-town prejudices are moving and very real, and when Bloody Mary brings Liat to her to find Lieutenant Cable, who has been killed, it breaks one's heart. Anyway, the movie still knocks me out, even if that makes me, as Nelly Forbrush calls herself, a "knucklehead." The incredible photography, gorgeous music, and theme of the need to triumph over bigotry which is still so relevant even today, makes this film a 5-star winner in my book. As trite as it sounds, "They don't make 'em like that anymore!""
Well worth the wait
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 08/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This brand new edition of SOUTH PACIFIC is a must for all fans of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Based on characters and segments from James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific", the story takes place on the islands during the tail-end of World War II. A pretty young nurse from Arkansas, Ensign Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor), falls in love with a wealthy French plantation owner Emile de Becque (Rossano Brazzi). Their relationship is tested when she discovers that he fathered two children with a now-dead Polynesian wife, and that he is wanted for the murder of a man in France. As Nellie confronts her own fears and prejudices, the handsome Lt. Joe Cable (John Kerr) falls helplessly in love with Bali Ha'i island beauty Liat (France Nuyen). Filling out the comedy in the tale are Bloody Mary (Juanita Hall), the wheeler-dealer with a heart of pure gold; and Luther Billis (Ray Walston), the tattooed leader of the beach-bound troops.
This DVD has been available for a while in the UK and Australia, and now finally gets a US release this November. The double-disc set includes two versions of the film: the original theatrical cut, and the rarely-seen Roadshow version which runs for 20 minutes longer with material that was subsequently trimmed for the film's general theatrical release. Audio commentary is provided by Ted Chapin and Gerard Alessandrini (original theatrical cut); and Richard Barrios (Roadshow version).
Extra features will include the fascinating "60 Minutes" report by Diane Sawyer with James Michener returning to the islands and reuniting with people that served as the inspirations for characters in the book...including the real Bloody Mary. Vintage performances from the "General Foods" Rodgers & Hammerstein TV tribute (original Broadway leads Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza), two MovieTone news segments and the trailer. "
More than a love story. And the music is great!
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 02/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the world a little shaky now, it's a real pleasure to be able to put on a DVD and take a trip down memory lane to 1958 when South Pacific was released in movie theaters. The Rogers and Hammerstein score sets the tone for this musical adaptation of the Broadway show that was based on Tales of the South Pacific" by James Mitchener.The story is set on an island in the South Pacific during WW2. The Japanese are entrenched in a nearby island and are bombing American forces that go near, but life is sweet for the G.I.s at the naval base. Mitzi Gaynor, cast as a nurse, is beginning a romance with an older distinguished French planter played by Rossano Brazzi. John Kerr is a young lieutenant who comes to the island to convince the planter to risk his life to spy for the Americans. And Juanita hall is the older native woman who pushes her daughter, the lovely France Nuyen, at John Kerr. The music is excellent and the words of the songs really do move the story along.The theme however, is more than a love story. It deals with racism and the tragedy of war too. And these themes are what held it all together for me. It's a great human statement surrounded by wonderful familiar melodies that I'm still humming this morning. I loved it. And I didn't even care that, with the exception of Rossano Brazzi and Ray Walston, whose role as a sailor who always has a scheme and adds some really funny comic relief to this tale of love and war, the acting in general was mediocre. Everyone else gave rather stilted performances, and Mitzi Gaynor might be pretty, but she can't quite show a wide range of emotion. Also, the songs were all dubbed and obviously so. But that was the way Hollywood did things in those days. It's also interesting to note what the standard for beauty was in 1958. With the exception of the dancers, it was youth alone and not workouts in the gym that shaped the actors' bodies. Narrow waists were in style for the women, but hips were allowed to flare naturally.I loved South Pacific in spite of its few faults. It was great entertainment even though it didn't make me forget the prospect of war. If you've never seen this film, don't miss it. And if you've seen it before, it's certainly worth a revisit. Highly recommended."
Total Enchantment (Roadshow Version)
R. L. Pulliam | Oakland, CA USA | 03/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over the decades, I've seen this film many, many times -- on TV, on VHS, on laserdisc. Each time I saw it, I wanted it to be a bit more than it was:
-- I've always wished I could appreciate the performance of Ray Walston as Luther Billis, because all of his scenes were pure ham, and he nearly ruined all the scenes he was in...for me.
-- I have always wished "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" was as complete in the film as it is on the RCA soundtrack recording (I'll tackle this now -- the complete version never made any final cut of the film).
-- I've always wished I could see the film as originally assembled and premiered.
-- I have always wished Alfred Newman's scoring -- brilliant though it is in all the cuts I'd seen of the film -- offered a bit more Newman flair.
And now, I'm extremely gratified to say, my wishes have nearly all come true.
This restoration print is phenomenal. Yes there are some washed-out scenes, but I don't care. They are finally back where they belong. This roadshow restoration was printed from a Todd-AO master negative and is a considerably DIFFERENT film from the one most of us have been exposed to the past 49 years.
The print is magnificent, clear and in many ways looks better than most new films look today.
This roadshow version resonates for me in ways that the theatrical cut never did. Time and again, the music set my heart racing, my pulse throbbing, and my senses went into overload.
This film is a visual and aural feast. It's also now my favorite film musical EVER!
Color filters? Bah! Get over 'em! I read somewhere that cinematographer Leon Shamroy wanted them for the purpose of achieving/enhancing emotional responses to scenes. Other sources say it was director Joshua Logan who insisted on using them, primarily because he had experimented with such things in the Broadway production. I know many responses have been sheer hatred/disdain for all the filters, but I love many of them. Those I don't I ignore.
I've read/heard a lot of hoo-haw about the casting of Nellie Forbush (including the highly negative and wishy-washy commentary by Richard Barrios, a film historian whose commentary is replete with "people" have said -- "many people", "some people", "people", "a friend", "someone"...all in the negative...and always attributing his negativity to unnamed others. He seemingly owns nothing he says, but doesn't mind repeating what he has heard. This depletes him of any sort of authority on the subject. It's unfathomable to me that a studio would afflict a restoration of one of its most profitable movies with such absurd negativity...especially given the film's many admirers).
Much has been discussed about why Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza did not recreate their roles. One of the features on the second disc will show you why -- check out the numbers performed in that 1954 Rodgers and Hammerstein TV tribute (three years before filming began on the movie version). Martin looks to be somewhere in her 40s (she was 51)...and matronly plump -- and Pinza (who was 62) looks terrible (and totally unromantic-leadish). You can get away with a lot on stage, but you cannot hide such things on camera. I doubt that Martin was EVER considered for the role. And Pinza died in 1957.
Mary Martin was a great, shining star of the Broadway musical theater. She had a lightly raspy singing voice that she invested with great emotional nuance and feeling. I am a huge fan of Martin's and mean her no disrespect in my observations above.
Barrios maintains that Mitzi Gaynor's voice was not in Martin's league. I'm not sure what he means by that because to my ears, Gaynor's voice is leagues better than Martin's in quality and range. He may be saying he felt Martin's intepretation of the songs was better (and he comes off as one of those somewhat snooty theatrical drama mavens for whom nothing translated to the screen from the theater will ever be good enough, but I disagree with virtually everything that comes out of his mouth on the commentary so I won't mention him again).
There is talk that Elizabeth Taylor was a candidate. What a blessing THAT never happened.
The other great "sigh-in-the-sky" complaint is that Doris Day would have been perfect as Nellie but that she turned off Joshua Logan at a party one night when she refused to get up and sing for guests. I'd always heard she refused to audition for Richard Rodgers.
At any rate...I certainly cannot imagine Doris Day, with her all-too-familiar mannerisms, as Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific." I know she had the look, but I think Gaynor was by far the best choice of those considered for the role.
Many will strongly disagree. And many of those will be the same folks who still bemoan the loss of Frank Sinatra as Billy Bigelow in "Carousel." The visual imagery of that casting still induces giggles. That slight, skinny man wearing a barker's cap and being a rugged barker on a carousel? I think Hollywood dodged a HUGE misfire when he walked out on that film.
Watch Gaynor's performance closely in this roadshow version -- she is luminous, she is restrained, she is exuberant. She is up to the task in every scene and pulls off some incredibly difficult scenes with great dramatic effect. Her vocals are magnificent.
And the huge surprise for me: Ray Walston is wonderful as Luther Billis. They restored much footage of him ...much of what was missing was character development and nuances. In the cut version we saw only the more hyper/extreme elements of his performance. This restored Luther Billis is terrific, and Walston owns the role!
Being a film music fan of many, many decades (!), I have to say that it's always the music that counts most for me in any musical (not to mention any other kind of film), but "South Pacific" is Alfred Newman's masterpiece. He took a classic Broadway score and made it shine more gloriously than it had ever shone before. It's thrilling beyond words to have Newman's original scoring returned to the film...many glorious flourishes pop up frequently to great effect...the entire segments like Cable's walk through the jungle of Bali Ha'i with Bloody Mary -- an entire chunk of film with an entire chunk of original music restored (the Newman scoring of this chunk brings to mind the opening music in the vision sequence in "The Song of Bernadette", but with exotic colorings employed rather than religious ones). Newman's work set a standard that has never been remotely approached by anyone but Newman himself (in "Camelot").
I cannot recommend the restored roadshow version of "South Pacific" more highly. See it (and IGNORE ENTIRELY the accompanying commentary)."
Wait for the Real Thing
Les G. Solomon | NSW, Australia | 05/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beware all those South Pacific fans....the best version ever to be released on DVD is on its way. For reasons no one seems to know America is the last country in the world to see the 2 disc edition of this classic movie musical. Writing from Australia where the special 2 disc edition has been available for some time, my suggestion is to wait for the real thing --it is worth it. The early edition which is the only one available on American Amazon is and has always been poorly adapted to DVD. The new version is finally 16.9 widescreen version and, wait for it, there are two versions and the second one is superior in that it is the complete 171 minute version of the film, uncut at last with scenes just about nobody (unless you were privy to the original roadshow screenings in the fifties in the States)has seen. You will see things that always seemed peculiar to me suddenly make sense (although, strangely the uncut version of "Wash that Man" remains lost, now probably forever)But this is a real treat and add twenty minutes from the Ford Tv special starring the original Broadway casts, two expert audio commentaries on both versions and a 60 minutes special on James Michener returning to the islands one more time and you have something worth waiting for......IF it ever gets a release in the States that is..!!!!"