South Pacific (1958 film)

This article is about the 1958 film. For the Broadway musical, see South Pacific (musical). For the television film, see South Pacific (2001 film).
South Pacific

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joshua Logan
Produced by Buddy Adler
Screenplay by Paul Osborn
Based on South Pacific
by Oscar Hammerstein II
Joshua Logan
Tales of the South Pacific
by James A. Michener
Starring Rossano Brazzi
Mitzi Gaynor
John Kerr
Juanita Hall
France Nuyen
Ray Walston
Music by Richard Rodgers (music)
Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Robert L. Simpson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 19, 1958 (1958-03-19)
Running time
171 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5.61 million[2][3]
Box office $36,800,000[4]

South Pacific is a 1958 American romantic musical film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, and based on James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. The film, directed by Joshua Logan, starred Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr and Ray Walston in the leading roles with Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary, the part that she had played in the original stage production. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning the Academy Award for Best Sound for Fred Hynes.


Musical numbers

Note: The film opens with an orchestral overture lasting 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

  1. "Bloody Mary"
  2. "There Is Nothing Like a Dame"
  3. "Bali Ha'i"
  4. "A Cock-Eyed Optimist"
  5. "Twin Soliloquies"
  6. "Some Enchanted Evening"
  7. "Dites-moi"
  8. "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"
  9. "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy"
  10. "Younger Than Springtime"
  11. "Happy Talk"
  12. "Honey Bun"
  13. "My Girl Back Home"
  14. "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught"
  15. "This Nearly Was Mine"
  16. "Finale"


Following the success of the film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1955), the producers decided to tackle a big-screen adaptation of South Pacific as their next project.

The film was produced by "South Pacific Enterprises", a company created specifically for the production, owned by Rodgers, Hammerstein, Logan, Magna Theatre Corporation (owners of the Todd-AO widescreen process the film would be photographed in), and Leland Hayward, producer of the original stage production.[5] 20th Century Fox partially invested in the production in exchange for some distribution rights. Additionally, all the departments and department heads were Fox's.

The producers' original plan was to have Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin, the two leads of the original Broadway cast, reprise their roles for the film, but Pinza died. Had he survived long enough to perform in the film, the producers would have cast Martin.[6] Instead, Doris Day was offered the part of Nellie, but passed; Elizabeth Taylor tested for the same role, but was rejected by Rodgers after she suffered stage fright in her audition. Logan later heard her sing but was unable to persuade Rodgers to change his mind.[6] Ultimately, Mitzi Gaynor, who had prior work in musical films, and had tested twice for Nellie, was cast in the role.[6] Rossano Brazzi was cast as Emile, a role that was first offered to such established stars as Charles Boyer, Vittorio De Sica and Fernando Lamas.[5] Walston, a noted Broadway musical actor, played the part of Seabee Luther Billis, which he previously played on stage in London.[6]

Hanalei Bay on Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands, together with Portinatx Beach and the island of Es Vedrà in Ibiza (Balearic Islands) served as the filming locations for the film, with special effects providing distant views of the fantastic island Bali Ha'i (Es Vedrà). A second unit filmed aerial views of Fijian islands while some sources claim footage of Tioman Island, off Malaysia's south east coast, were also featured, though this seems unlikely given the logistics involved. Location filming provided sweeping shots of tropical island scenes, as well as a new sequence not in the stage version, in which Billis, having parachuted from a damaged plane, has a boat dropped on him, then comes under a series of attacks, following his fatalistic "Oh, it's going to be one of those days, huh?"

The film includes the use of colored filters during many of the song sequences,[7] which has been a source of criticism for the film. Director Joshua Logan wanted these filters to produce subtle changes, but 20th Century Fox, the company that would distribute the 35mm version, made them extreme changes; since tickets to the film were pre-sold (it was a roadshow attraction), there was no time to correct this.[6]

All of the songs from the stage production were retained for the film. A song entitled "My Girl Back Home", sung by Lt. Cable and Nellie, cut from the Broadway show, was added.[8]

One of the differences between the film version and the Broadway version of the musical is that the first and second scenes of the play are switched around, together with all the songs contained in those two scenes. The stage version begins with Nellie and Emile's first scene together on the plantation, then proceeds to show Bloody Mary, Lieutenant Joe Cable, and the Seabees on the beach, while in the film version Lieutenant Cable is shown at the very beginning being flown by plane to the island, where the Seabees and Bloody Mary have their first musical numbers. (The first musical number in the film is "Bloody Mary", sung by the Seabees, while in the stage version it is "Dites-moi", sung by Emile's children.) Emile is not shown in the film until about thirty minutes into it; in the film, Nellie first appears during the scene with the Seabees. Because of the switch, the show's most famous song, "Some Enchanted Evening", is not heard until nearly forty-five minutes into the film, while in the show it is heard about fifteen minutes after Act I starts.

Juanita Hall sang in the stage production and took part in the recording of the stage production cast album. However, she had her singing dubbed for the film version by Muriel Smith, who played Bloody Mary in the London stage production.[6] Metropolitan Opera star Giorgio Tozzi provided the singing voice for the role of Emile de Becque in the film.[6] John Kerr starred as 2nd Lt. Joseph Cable, USMC and his singing voice was dubbed by Bill Lee.[6] Ken Clark, who played Stewpot, was dubbed by Thurl Ravenscroft (who sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and was the voice of Tony the Tiger). Gaynor and Walston were the only principal cast members whose own singing voices were used.


Criticism of the color filters did not prevent the film from topping the box office of 1958. It earned $6.4 million in rentals in North America.[9] In London, the film played continuously at the Dominion Theatre for nearly four-and-a-half years.[10] South Pacific had the honor of being the highest-grossing Rodgers and Hammerstein musical film until The Sound of Music was released seven years later.[6]

The 65mm Todd-AO cinematography (by Leon Shamroy) was nominated for an Academy Award, as were the music adaptation and the sound. South Pacific won for Best Sound.

The soundtrack album has spent more weeks at #1 in the UK Albums Chart than any other album, spending 115 weeks at the top in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It spent 70 consecutive weeks at the top of the chart and was #1 for the whole of 1959.

Magna Theatre Corporation, which originally owned a stake in the film, handled the distribution of the roadshow presentations, while Fox distributed the film for its general (wide) release.[5] The film was re-released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company in 1983.[5] Originally shown in a nearly three-hour roadshow version, later cut to two-and-a-half hours for general release. The three-hour version, long feared lost, was rediscovered in a 70mm print owned by a collector. This print was screened in Bradford, England at the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television on March 14, 2005.[11] When Fox (which by that time owned partial distribution rights to the film, including home video) learned of the print's existence, it took it to the United States to reinstate the fourteen missing minutes and attempt to restore as much of the color as possible.[12] A 2-disc DVD set of both the longer and shorter versions was released in the USA on Region 1 on November 7, 2006 and earlier on UK region 2 on 20 March 2006.

"Some Enchanted Evening" was ranked #28 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs (2004).

On March 31, 2009, South Pacific became the first Rodgers and Hammerstein musical available on high definition Blu-ray Disc.[13]


The Original Soundtrack of the film was released in 1958.[14] The album became a major success, reaching No.1 in both the US and UK. In the US, the album stayed at No.1 on the Billboard 200 for seven months, the fourth longest run ever.[14] The album remained in the top five of the UK Albums Chart for 27 consecutive weeks before reaching No.1 in November 1958. It stayed at the top for a record-breaking 115 weeks and remained in the top five for 214 weeks.[15]

Awards and honors

Academy Awards (31st)
Golden Globe Awards (16th)


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. "SOUTH PACIFIC (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 1958-03-28. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  2. "South Pacific (1958)". Box Office Mojo website. Box Office Mojo, LLC. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  3. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p251
  4. "Box office/business for South Pacific (1958)"., Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Notes for South Pacific.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Articles for South Pacific.
  7. "Wide Screen Movies Magazine".
  8. "Wide Screen Movies Magazine".
  9. "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
  10. "Wide Screen Movies Magazine".
  11. "South Pacific". Widescreen Weekend 2005 report. 2005-03-14. Archived from the original on 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  12. "FotoKem Restores South Pacific". in70mm News. 2006-01-26. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  13. "50th Anniversary Blu-ray for South Pacific Announced".
  14. 1 2 "South Pacific [Original Soundtrack] - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic".
  15. ChartArchive - South Pacific UK Chart run(Link redirected to OCC website)
  16. "The 31st Academy Awards (1959) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-21.
  17. "Academy Awards Database". AMPAS. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  18. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  19. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  20. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  21. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
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