Flower Drum Song
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One of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most joyful musical offerings, the story (based on C.Y. Lee's novel "The Flower Drum Song") concerns a winsome young Chinese girl called Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki) who enters the United States illegally, in order to submit into an arranged marriage with San Francisco nightclub owner Sammy Fong (Jack Soo). Complications arise when Madame Liang (Juanita Hall) decides that Mei Li would instead be better-suited to her nephew Ta (James Shigeta), but he is infatuated with nightclub star Linda Low (Nancy Kwan), who is also Sammy's on-again, off-again girlfriend.
This being one of the greatest Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, you can count on a satisfying conclusion with lovers matched and happy endings for all. The score for FLOWER DRUM SONG was one of the most accomplished written by the duo, with numbers running the gamut of emotion (Mei Li's pragmatic "A Hundred Million Miracles" and the simple, inward melody of "I Am Going to Like It Here"). The songs of Mei Li contrast very effectively with the knowing and brassy numbers of Linda Low ("I Enjoy Being a Girl" and "Fan Tan Fanny"). The plight of the Chinese-American is perfectly analysed in "The Other Generation", and in "Chop Suey", the number Madame Liang performs at the party celebrating her American citizenship.
FLOWER DRUM SONG opened on Broadway in 1958, and ran for a very successful 600 performances. Miyoshi Umeki (who won an Academy Award for her touching performance as Katsumi Kelly in SAYONARA) thankfully got to reprise her Broadway role of Mei Li in the film, with Jack Soo, Juanita Hall and Patrick Adiarte the other main hold-overs from the stage cast.Read more ›
Flower Drum Song was unusual not only because it featured an (almost) all-Asian cast, but also because it depicted Chinese-Americans as _Americans_: a Chinese-American businessman, college student, banker, policeman, standup comic, yes, even a Chinese-American showgirl. Although the characterizations are not very deep or serious, the film is a fine showcase for some early Hollywood Asian acting talent: Nancy Kwan is gorgeous and is great in all those dance numbers; Jack Soo has a hilarious deadpan humor; James Shigeta is a real heart-throb, and Miyoshi Umeki is as sweet as can be.
Look for a brief cameo by Richard Rodgers during the "You be the Rock" number!
The young Asian performers are Nancy Kwan, Myoshi Umeki, James Shigeta and Jack Soo. Because of the venerable Chinese custom of arranged marriages, it appears that Nancy Kwan, a nightclub dancer, may marry the youthful James Shigeta while the innocent Myoshi Umeki will end up in the arms of Jack Soo, a worldly nightclub owner. Can this tragedy possibly be avoided and everybody discover their own true loves? We finally learn the answer to this question about 133 minutes later.
Don't miss Benson Fong who will be remembered as Tommy Chan in a few of the Charlie Chan films of the 1940's such as THE SHANGHAI COBRA. He appears here as James Shigeta's father.
FLOWER DRUM SONG was overshadowed by WEST SIDE STORY in 1961 but it did still manage to receive Oscar nominations for Best Color Cinematography, Color Costume Design, Color Art Direction, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Sound.
Miyoshi Umeki as Mei-Li the mail order bride sings "A Hundred Million Miracles" and "I Am Going To Like It Here" winsomely and lovely but she proves she can be a cut-up when she plays the perfect foil to Jack Soo during the "Don't Marry Me" comic duet. Nancy Kwan as the gal with the heart of tin, although her voice is dubbed, is all perky and bright as she performs her big numbers "I Enjoy Being A Girl" "Fan Tan Fanny" "Grant Avenue" and the hilarious dream sequence with Jack Soo, "Sunday"
Reiko Sato as Helen Chow whose secret crush is unaware of her feelings sings(dubbed) and dances the heartbreakingly beautiful "Love Look Away" and Ballet.
There is also a comedy number called "Chop Suey" which details the varities and confusions of life in America for newly arrived immigrants and segues into a sort of Asian dosey-doe square dance.
"Flower Drum Song" remains one of the best and most faithful transfers of Broadway to Hollywood and I give thanks to the "Gods" who were responsible for finally releasing this joyful gem on DVD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Was so happy to find this on DVD. The music and characters are wonderful.Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of my favorite musicals. The comedy in this film with the musical numbers make a great movie. Read morePublished 12 days ago by CT_123456789
Wonderful movie,brought back lovely memories of of my childhood so refreshing in today world'sPublished 12 days ago by wendy kwiatkowski
My school had a Cinema Club which would show various movies monthly. I watched this and loved the songs, the colours, the story and have hunted for a copy since. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Juliana L. S. Lee
was sooooo looking forward to watching this movie again. It was one of my all time favorites when I was young. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Elizabeth Stanfield
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