Flower Drum Song (film)


Flower Drum Song (film)

Infobox Film
name = Flower Drum Song


caption = DVD Flower Drum Song film
caption =
director = Henry Koster
producer = Ross Hunter
writer = Oscar Hammerstein II (play) Joseph Fields (play and screenplay)
starring = Nancy Kwan James Shigeta Juanita Hall
music = Richard Rodgers
cinematography = Russell Metty
editing = Milton Carruth
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = November 9, 1961
runtime = 132 min.
language = English
budget =
imdb_id = 0054885|

Flower Drum Song is a 1961 film adaptation of the 1958 Broadway musical play "Flower Drum Song", written by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The film and stage play were based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Chinese American author C.Y. Lee. The movie was unusual in featuring nearly all Asian American cast members (one of the few speaking Caucasian parts being a mugger), including dancers, though most singing voices were not by Asian talent. Starring were Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong, James Hong, Reiko Sato and original Broadway cast members Jack Soo, Miyoshi Umeki and Juanita Hall.

Among various changes for the film, the song "Like a God" was changed from a song into a beat poetry presentation. The singing voice of the character Linda Low was B. J. Baker, a non-Asian studio backup singer who worked with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, the Righteous Brothers and Sam Cooke, among others. "Love, Look Away" was also dubbed, by opera singer Marilyn Horne.

Plot synopsis

A young woman named Mei Li arrives as an illegal immigrant from China with her father to San Francisco to enter into an arranged marriage with the owner of a night club, Sammy Fong (inspired by the actual Forbidden City nightclub). Her intended is already involved with his leading showgirl, Linda Low, and does his best to dissuade Mei Li from marrying him, sending her to live in the house of Master Wang, where he presents her as prospect for Master Wang's son, Wang Ta. Dissolving the marriage contract is harder than either of them imagine. Master Wang is persuaded by his sister-in-law, Madame Liang, to allow Mei Li to fall in love naturally with Master Wang's son, Wang Ta. But Wang Ta is dazzled by the charms of Linda, who 'enjoys being a girl', and succeeds in landing a date with her, during which she convinces him to give her his fraternity pin (it symbolizes that they're "going steady"). Linda wishes to use Wang Ta to get a real commitment from Sammy Fong, who gets wind of her plan when Linda attends a party in honor of Wang Ta's and Madame Liang's graduation from university and citizenship classes, respectively. At the party, Linda has another club employee pretend to be her brother, and grant his permission for Linda to marry Wang Ta. Mei Li, hearing this, becomes discouraged, while Ta and his father argue over his marriage plans. Ta argues that he is old enough to make his own decisions, but the father says that he will be the one to let Ta know when he is old enough.

Sammy, in an effort to keep Linda from marrying Wang Ta, arranges to have Wang Ta (and his family) see her nightclub act, where he is shocked at her performance. He leaves, distraught, accompanied by friend since childhood, the seamstress Helen Chao, who also grew up in America and deeply loves Wang Ta. Ta becomes drunk in his misery over Linda, and Helen ends up letting him stay for the night in her apartment. She sings "Love Look Away", about her unrequited love. In the morning, Mei Li comes to deliver a burned coat for Helen to mend, and becomes distressed when she discovers Wang Ta's clothing in Helen's kitchen. When Wang Ta wakes up (seconds after Mei Li leaves), he still does not notice Helen's affections, even as she pleads for him to stay, and he leaves quickly. He goes to speak with Mei Li, now realizing his father was right, and that she is a better match for him than the man trap Linda Low, only to have Mei Li reject him, saying that she once loved him, but not anymore. She and her father leave Master Wang's house and pursue the marriage contract between Mei Li and Sammy Fong. This is unfortunate in that Sammy has already proposed to Linda, but now will be unable to marry her (the contract is binding). Before the wedding, Wang Ta goes to see Mei Li, and they both realize that they are deeply in love with one another. They agree to try to come up with a way to get Mei Li out of her marriage contract.

The day of the wedding, right before she is to sip from a goblet (which would seal her marriage to Sammy), Mei Li declares that because she is an illegal immigrant, the contract is null and void. Wang Ta can thus marry Mei Li, and Sammy decides to marry Linda right there as well, resulting in a double wedding. Helen ends up empty handed (in fact, she does not appear again after Wang Ta leaves her apartment). In the novel, Ta's rejection actually leads her to commit suicide.

Cast

* Miyoshi Umeki - Mei Li
* Nancy Kwan (zh-tp|t=關家蒨|p=Guān Jiāqiàn; Cantonese: Kwan Ka Shin) - Linda Low
* James Shigeta - Wang Ta
* Benson Fong - Wang Chi-Yang
* Jack Soo - 'Sammy' Fong
* Juanita Hall - Madame "Auntie" Liang
* Reiko Sato - Helen Chao
* Patrick Adiarte - Wang San
* Kam Tong - Dr. Li
* Victor Sen Yung - Frankie Wing
* Soo Yong - Madame Fong
* James Hong - Headwaiter
* Spencer Chan - Dr. Chou
* Arthur Song - Dr. Fong
* Weaver Levy - Policeman
* Herman Rudin - Mugger
* Cherylene Lee - Sons Girlfriend
* Virginia Lee - San's Girlfriend
* Jon Fong - Square Dance Caller
* Virginia Grey - TV Heroine
* Robert Kino - Bank Manager
* Frank Kumagai - Tradesmen
* Ching Wah Lee - Professor
* Laurette Luez - Mexican Girl, Beulah Quo
* Ward Ramsey - Great White Hunter
* Paul Sorenson - TV Sheriff
* Beal Wong - Tailor

Musical numbers

* "A Hundred Million Miracles" - Performed by Miyoshi Umeki and cast members
*"Fan Tan Fannie" - Performed by Nancy Kwan (dubbed by B.J. Baker) and show girls
*"The Other Generation" - Performed by Benson Fong, Juanita Hall, Patrick Adiarte, Cherylene Lee, and Virginia Lee
* "I Enjoy Being a Girl" - Performed by Nancy Kwan (dubbed by B.J. Baker)
* "I Am Going To Like It Here" - Performed by Miyoshi Umeki
* "Chop Suey" - Performed by Juanita Hall, James Shigeta, and chorus
*"You Be the Rock" - Performed by Nancy Kwan, (Dubbed by B.J. Baker) and Patrick Adiarte
*"Grant Avenue" - Performed by Nancy Kwan (Dubbed by B.J. Baker) and chorus
*"Gliding Through My Memoree" - Performed by Victor Sen Yung and show girls
* "Love, Look Away" - Performed by Reiko Sato (dubbed by Marilyn Horne)
*"You Are Beautiful" - Performed by James Shigeta
* "Sunday" - Performed by Jack Soo and Nancy Kwan (dubbed by B.J. Baker)
* "Don't Marry Me" - Performed by Jack Soo and Miyoshi Umeki
* "A Hundred Million Miracles" (reprise)/Finale - Performed by Miyoshi Umeki, Nancy Kwan (dubbed by B.J. Baker) and cast

I Enjoy Being a Girl

Although "Flower Drum Song" is not one of the most successful of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, its song "I Enjoy Being A Girl" has been widely used in other movies. The song has become familiar to many Americans, perhaps most recently with Sarah Jessica Parker in a nationally broadcast Gap commercial. It was covered by lesbian folksinger Phranc. As of October 2006, there were 13 versions of the song on YouTube, including performances by Pat Suzuki and parodies based on Harry Potter and "Battlestar Galactica".

Awards and nominations

*Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (nominee)
*Best Cinematography, Color (nominee)
*Best Costume Design, Color (nominee)
*Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (nominee)
*Best Sound (nominee)

Video and DVD releases

The movie was available for broadcast on television, and perhaps the largest number of people remember this film from television. It was released on VHS video during the 1990s, and unavailable subsequently for many years while most of the other video versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein movies were released on DVD by other studios. Clips from this movie have appeared on internet video sharing sites. At present, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (via their acquisition of The Samuel Goldwyn Company) owns the theatrical and television rights to this film, as well as other certain Rodgers and Hammerstein properties, while original distributor Universal owns only the home video rights (Universal also holds the film's copyright). Universal Studios Home Entertainment (in association with the estates of Rodgers and Hammerstein) finally released a DVD version on November 7 2006, with extra features on the making and casting of the movie. It includes interviews of Henry Hwang, Pat Suzuki, and Nancy Kwan, and pictures from the 1958 and 2002 rehearsals and practice sessions, as well as pictures of Rodgers, Hammerstein, and Fields. The movie soundtrack was released, first on LP, and more recently, on CD.

References

* [http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/8849/Moviemusicals/Dong/FlowerDrumSong.htm Extensive information about the film]
* [http://www.rnh.com/theatricals/show.php?show_id=93 R&H Theatricals]
* [http://www.nancy-kwan.com/filmography.html Nancy-Kwan.com website filmography] with notes on the actors in "Flower Drum Song"
* [http://www.nancy-kwan.com/fds.html Information about the film]

External links

* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054885/ Internet Movie Database listing]
* [http://www.nancy-kwan.com/index.html Nancy-Kwan.com website homepage]


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