Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

13 May 2007

Gonna Wash That Racism Right Outta My Hair

Joshua Logan's film of South Pacific is really baffling. The movie is, of course, based on the stage musical of the same name. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Joshua Logan. What is so weird about the film is its cinematography. For some reason, and I guess this is the source of some small controversy, most of the songs are shot through these color filters. This has been retained for the DVD transfer of the film. Now, why would you go to all the trouble of shooting on location in Hawai'i and Malaysia just to filter the film as though the whole thing were shot on a sound stage in Culver City. It doesn't make a bit of sense!

Also, everyone in the film is dubbed except for Mitzi Gaynor. And why? Juanita Hall, who won the first Tony award as best featured actress in a musical for the original stage production appears in the movie. She is, in fact, the only member of the original cast in the film. And yet she's dubbed. It's really very weird. I mean, sure John Kerr is gorgeous, and Rossano Brazzi is extremely good looking as well, but why not cast good-looking actors who can sing in your musical film? Weird.

There is a lot that's great about the movie, though. Its discussion of racism is very interesting, if dated, and the islands look great.