A PEEK AT FLOWER DRUM SONG

3 Stars

Don’t get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I’d just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn’t watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I’d love to hear other thoughts.

https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

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138 Comments

  1. haineshisway

    Don't get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I'd just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn't watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

    You can download it to a tablet, but mostly the things you buy or rent sit in the cloud and you access them from your "My Vudu" main screen. Then you select it just as you select the "Free with Ads" selections on the screen if accessing from your TV.

  2. haineshisway

    Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    Purchasing something via streaming is not the same as purchasing physical media. The upside is you get to view a product that may later be updated with a better version (4K, HDR, restored print) at no additional cost, you don't have to take any additional space in your home, and you can watch it on multiple devices in multiple places.

    The downside is they control the content. If they decide to censor it, delete it, or upgrade to an inferior product, you have no say. If they go out of business (think Ultraviolet), you don't have anything. You purchased the right to stream, not the product itself. If the streaming becomes unavailable, that's the way it is.

  3. haineshisway

    Don't get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I'd just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn't watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

    100 000 000 miracles. This movie and the Pat Boone “State Fair” are the only R&H movies not available on Blu ray. I wish the companies involved would put them out instead of celebrating the 30th and 1/2 Birthday of “The Sound Of Mucilage” with another configuration — including a free nuns habit!

  4. TJPC

    100 000 000 miracles. This movie and the Pat Boone “State Fair” are the only R&H movies not available on Blu ray. I wish the companies involved would put them out instead of celebrating the 30th and 1/2 Birthday of “The Sound Of Mucilage” with another configuration — including a free nuns habit!

    Twilight Time released the Pat Boone “State Fair” on Blu-Ray and it’s still available.

  5. haineshisway

    Don't get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I'd just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn't watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

    It's also available for free in HD on Amazon Prime right now. Don't know if it's the same print as the Vudu version but the Amazon stream opens with the Universal logo.

  6. TJPC

    For “State Fair” I am going to have to stick to the DVD for now $75.00 can is too rich for my blood.

    Ah yes, the notorious unfair shipping costs and Canada/USA money exchange. I understand your decision.

  7. Peter Apruzzese

    It's also available for free in HD on Amazon Prime right now. Don't know if it's the same print as the Vudu version but the Amazon stream opens with the Universal logo.

    The Amazon is the old DVD transfer and looks horrible. This thing is in a whole other universe. Has anybody checked it out?

  8. haineshisway

    The Amazon is the old DVD transfer and looks horrible. This thing is in a whole other universe. Has anybody checked it out?

    I'll try to check out the Vudu version over the weekend.

    EDIt – just checked out a few minutes on my PC at work, it looks very good even with our dodgy network speeds here.

  9. That's good news because I have a gut feeling we'll be seeing this title sooner than later via Twilight Time, Kino Lorber or Shout Factory. In fact, isn't TT due for their monthly announcements today?

  10. Thanks very much for the information. I took a look at the Hulu version and it is much better.

    This film can be wonderful. One should note that this is a very topical play and movie that proudly bears the imprint of time and place: late 50s/early 60s San Francisco California USA. Even the production design is Chinese-mid century (and very well done in this lavish Ross Hunter production). All of the other R&H productions have a transcendent timelessness about them.

    I saw this in original release in late 1961 and many times since. I had already seen the road version of the play. Fans should note that there is a new book from 2002 written by David Henry Hwang that has a somewhat different plot and emphasizes the immigrant experience rather than assimilation.

    The show with the new book is also playing occasionally on-stage. I saw this new version on Broadway and recently in Palo Alto. Both versions are worthy, but I prefer the original. This is another story.

  11. Thanks so much for this!! It does indeed look and sound wonderful. I have very fond memories of seeing this with my parents when it was originally released. It's such a terrific movie and the cast is amazing. Here's hoping for a new BD release soon!!!

  12. I saw this on VuDu, and it looks identical to what HD Net ran a few years back.
    Nice color and sound, but not up to true modern-day BD standards (unless it's coming from one of those labels that loads up the market with sub-standard old masters). Lots of speckling!

  13. haineshisway

    Don't get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I'd just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn't watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

    The iTunes version also has the Samuel Goldwyn logo.

  14. I'm watching it on VUDU right now. Bruce is right. The color and contrast are fabulous and the sound is great (although only two-channel unless I'm doing something wrong). The only slight issue is that the picture is slightly off-center (very apparent during the main titles but also at other times). Thanks for the alert!

  15. rsmithjr

    I saw this in original release in late 1961 and many times since. I had already seen the road version of the play. Fans should note that there is a new book from 2002 written by David Henry Hwang that has a somewhat different plot and emphasizes the immigrant experience rather than assimilation.

    The show with the new book is also playing occasionally on-stage. I saw this new version on Broadway and recently in Palo Alto. Both versions are worthy, but I prefer the original. This is another story.

    The Hwang version, incorrectly billed as "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song," opened to disintrerest on Broadway and so had only a short run. One of the biggest problems was that the songs didn't quite fit the new plot. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote very tightly to character and situation, and when you change both character and situation you can't expect the song to do the job it was written to do. In short, it wasn't what it said in the program because it wasn't what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote. It was David Henry Hwang's adaptation of the novel (and not a real close one at that), with the songs stuck in where he thought they might work. He would have been better served to call it, say, "A Hundred Million Miracles," thereby acknowledging the debt to the original while also signalling that this was a separate piece with its own identity. Better yet, he should have gotten a composer and lyricist to write an entirely new score fitted to his book. He had and still has the talent and standing on Broadway to get quality collaborators to work with him.

  16. Rick Thompson

    The Hwang version, incorrectly billed as "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song," opened to disintrerest on Broadway and so had only a short run. One of the biggest problems was that the songs didn't quite fit the new plot. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote very tightly to character and situation, and when you change both character and situation you can't expect the song to do the job it was written to do. In short, it wasn't what it said in the program because it wasn't what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote. It was David Henry Hwang's adaptation of the novel (and not a real close one at that), with the songs stuck in where he thought they might work. He would have been better served to call it, say, "A Hundred Million Miracles," thereby acknowledging the debt to the original while also signalling that this was a separate piece with its own identity. Better yet, he should have gotten a composer and lyricist to write an entirely new score fitted to his book. He had and still has the talent and standing on Broadway to get quality collaborators to work with him.

    The Hwang revival is correctly called “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song” as it was done under the auspices of the R&H Organization specifically to make the show revivable in current times. It wasn’t done to be a fresh version of the original novel or story, but as a way to make that specifical musical (with that specific score) viable with modern audiences.

  17. JohnMor

    The Hwang revival is correctly called “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song” as it was done under the auspices of the R&H Organization specifically to make the show revivable in current times. It wasn’t done to be a fresh version of the original novel or story, but as a way to make that specifical musical (with that specific score) viable with modern audiences.

    So you jettison the plot, substitute an entirely new one, move all the songs around, add one the authors specifically cut, and you've still got the same show the original authors wrote? Yes, the R&H Organization sanctioned it, but that doesn't make it so. It was simply a way to make the property more likely to generate income. Nothing wrong with doing that; indeed, one of the responsibilities of the organization is to exploit the copyrights to the fullest. But let's be honest with what the result is. For better or worse, it ain't what R&H (and Joseph Fields) wrote.

  18. JohnMor

    The Hwang revival is correctly called “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song” as it was done under the auspices of the R&H Organization specifically to make the show revivable in current times. It wasn’t done to be a fresh version of the original novel or story, but as a way to make that specifical musical (with that specific score) viable with modern audiences.

    The show is perfectly revivable as it was written – it's BS that it would be a problem now because – wait for it – the show is set in the 1950s, not now. If you do it with an all-Asian cast of great talent, it would work just fine. It didn't need Mr. Hwang's help. I saw the first workshop of it and at that point the end of act one was the interpolated The Next Time It Happens. I told Ted Chapin that was a travesty and that no amount of Chinese food in the accompaniment was going to make it work. I think it was out by the time they hit LA, but I repeated that comment relentlessly until they cut it.

    The poor audiences of today – everyone panders to them and why? Everyone told me that Li'l Abner could never work today – no one remembers the comic strip, no one cares, it's not relevant… Well, I did it, it worked perfectly, got huge, screaming laughter, and everyone loved it – every review was a rave. I didn't write program notes, I didn't make a pre-curtain speech about the show, I trusted the audience and, more importantly, I trusted the material and merely did what any creative person would do with a show originally directed by a choreographer – I streamlined it to two hours exactly and made a few adjustments, but the adjustments were ALL written by the original writers.

    Flower Drum Song speaks to the period in which it was written, the characters are wonderful, and it's a lot of fun and even has something to say. Trust the damn material, and then trust the audience. I would love to revive it if I could cast it properly.

  19. Rick Thompson

    The Hwang version, incorrectly billed as "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song," opened to disintrerest on Broadway and so had only a short run. One of the biggest problems was that the songs didn't quite fit the new plot. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote very tightly to character and situation, and when you change both character and situation you can't expect the song to do the job it was written to do. In short, it wasn't what it said in the program because it wasn't what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote. It was David Henry Hwang's adaptation of the novel (and not a real close one at that), with the songs stuck in where he thought they might work. He would have been better served to call it, say, "A Hundred Million Miracles," thereby acknowledging the debt to the original while also signalling that this was a separate piece with its own identity. Better yet, he should have gotten a composer and lyricist to write an entirely new score fitted to his book. He had and still has the talent and standing on Broadway to get quality collaborators to work with him.

    Yes, I like much of your analysis.

    A better approach (that would have probably satisfied the R&H organization) would have been to retain the plot, characters, and story arc but to rewrite some of the dialogue and rework some of the individual scenes. It could have retained the original's emphasis on assimilation while strengthening the immigrant experience elements of the original. It is known that original director Gene Kelly tried to add jokes to the original, and removing some of these might have strengthened the story. Give it a bit more timelessness, which is a main reason for the ongoing success of the R&H musicals.

    As it stands, I still really like the original, it seems to be hard to get it done. Here in Palo Alto, the Hwang version was very successful and was supported by our local Chinese community. [Palo Alto has a 30% ethnically Chinese population now.]

    The 42nd Street Moon company in SF has adopted a practice of taking "old and new" versions of the same story and producing them together. I have been trying to talk them into doing the old and new versions of Flower Drum Song, I think it might be revealing.

  20. haineshisway

    The show is perfectly revivable as it was written – it's BS that it would be a problem now because – wait for it – the show is set in the 1950s, not now. If you do it with an all-Asian cast of great talent, it would work just fine. It didn't need Mr. Hwang's help. I saw the first workshop of it and at that point the end of act one was the interpolated The Next Time It Happens. I told Ted Chapin that was a travesty and that no amount of Chinese food in the accompaniment was going to make it work. I think it was out by the time they hit LA, but I repeated that comment relentlessly until they cut it.

    The poor audiences of today – everyone panders to them and why? Everyone told me that Li'l Abner could never work today – no one remembers the comic strip, no one cares, it's not relevant… Well, I did it, it worked perfectly, got huge, screaming laughter, and everyone loved it – every review was a rave. I didn't write program notes, I didn't make a pre-curtain speech about the show, I trusted the audience and, more importantly, I trusted the material and merely did what any creative person would do with a show originally directed by a choreographer – I streamlined it to two hours exactly and made a few adjustments, but the adjustments were ALL written by the original writers.

    Flower Drum Song speaks to the period in which it was written, the characters are wonderful, and it's a lot of fun and even has something to say. Trust the damn material, and then trust the audience. I would love to revive it if I could cast it properly.

    I’m not taking a side for either version, but the fact remains the show was not revived at all in the 40 years between the film and the Hwang version. No Lincoln Center, no Broadway, no National Tour, unlike their other hits.

    Also, if Asians want to have their own voice in the telling of their assimilation stories instead of just white men’s voices, I wouldn’t call it “pandering.” It’s not that a straight men couldn’t write a successful lesbian themed play, but why is it “pandering” if a lesbian writer wanted to bring a more authentic voice to it? Or Asian. Or African-American.

  21. It was actually done all through the 1960s everywhere – I have tons of summer stock ads for it with all sorts of interesting folks. It had a national tour that was very successful – I think it even played Vegas. It became infrequent in the 1970s, and non-existent thereafter, and I believe that had a lot to do with needing a hugely talented all-Asian cast. As you know, the Broadway version (and tour) had white people in it, which was a problem then and obviously unthinkable now. As to "…if Asians want to have their own voice in the telling of their assimilation stories…" Easy answer is, write them, don't screw around with an existing show. Write your own damn show and say whatever you want. Read the novel sometime – it goes to some dark places, but the musical is pretty true to most of its spirit and characters.

  22. Bruce is certainly right about the Vudu free-with-ads version. I watched it tonight, and picture and sound were fabulous. I didn't remember THAT much dancing from earlier viewings of the movie, but Hermes Pan tried his best to make this a dance show (and threw in two "dream ballets" – one serious and one comic) for good measure. A fair amount of dubbing for the cast, too, but they were all matched well with their non-singing counterparts.

  23. I wasn’t referring to local productions. I was talking about revivals. Even the R&H Org acknowledges it had no revivals for 40 years, unlike the other hits. (Not counting Pipe Dream and Me and Juliet.)

    As far as productions, people are free to license the Fields/Hammerstein version. It hasn’t been replaced. A company can choose which production they wish to mount. That’s twice the chance to expose new people to the score. And of course the Lee novel and the film (which Lee disliked) are unchanged for anybody who’s interested.

  24. I still need to see this one, though I like what I’ve heard in the clips I’ve seen of it, so hoping a Blu-ray can come out soon so I can fix that. As for my favorite R&H score, I’m going to have to go Cinderella (which I’m sure will be considered just as heretical), though Carousel is a close second.

  25. haineshisway

    It is, perhaps, and I know this is heresy, my favorite R&H score. I was not aware they were still licensing the original version. That actually makes me want to do the show 🙂

    Reading an article on the original musical, some idiot claimed the score threw off no popular hits apart from possibly "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Sacrilege! "Love, Look Away" has been a popular hit and one of the most beautiful ballads in the entire R&H catalog.

  26. JohnMor

    I wasn’t referring to local productions. I was talking about revivals. Even the R&H Org acknowledges it had no revivals for 40 years, unlike the other hits. (Not counting Pipe Dream and Me and Juliet.)

    As far as productions, people are free to license the Fields/Hammerstein version. It hasn’t been replaced. A company can choose which production they wish to mount. That’s twice the chance to expose new people to the score. And of course the Lee novel and the film (which Lee disliked) are unchanged for anybody who’s interested.

    No one has revived “Allegro” I don’t think either. “Me and Juliet” doesn’t even have a modern recording. It’s OC one indicates it is full of 1950s pretentious elements making it unrevivable. The other two in modern recordings at least sound like hidden gems, especially “Pipe Dream”.

  27. I saw ALLEGRO with the original orchestrations and it is very much a concept musical long before Sondheim (who was "interning" for "Uncle Oscar" during this show), and the influence on Sondheim is quite palpable. I loved the show which was way ahead of its time.

  28. Matt Hough

    Reading an article on the original musical, some idiot claimed the score threw off no popular hits apart from possibly "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Sacrilege! "Love, Look Away" has been a popular hit and one of the most beautiful ballads in the entire R&H catalog.

    Love, Look Away was stolen by Lea Salonga for the revival. This is the one ballad for the mezzo: talk about unfair!

  29. Matt Hough

    Those three R&H musicals that didn't have multi-year runs have been pillaged and plundered for songs which have been plugged into other R&H stage ventures like Cinderella and State Fair.

    The Whitney Houston produced Cinderella from 1997 even plundered a Rodgers and Hart song (!), “Falling In Love With Love” from The Boys From Syracuse. While it was beautifully performed by Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox and Natalie Reid, it tonally does not match the R&H score and makes zero sense plot/character-wise. I have nothing against trunk songs or interpolating songs from other shows, but at the bare minimum they should match the score and serve a dramatic purpose.

  30. The practice of moving songs from one to musical to another–especially when making a film–is very established. Look at Pal Joey or the Cole Porter musicals for example.

    R&H themselves were very concerned about the integrity of their stories and didn't do this as much.

    I personally like to see things as they were originally presented in most cases.

  31. JohnMor

    The Whitney Houston produced Cinderella from 1997 even plundered a Rodgers and Hart song (!), “Falling In Love With Love” from The Boys From Syracuse. While it was beautifully performed by Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox and Natalie Reid, it tonally does not match the R&H score and makes zero sense plot/character-wise. I have nothing against trunk songs or interpolating songs from other shows, but at the bare minimum they should match the score and serve a dramatic purpose.

    That version also used "The Sweetest Sounds," a very sophisticated and knowing ballad Rodgers wrote both the words and music for in No Strings, a completely inappropriate song for raggedy Cinderella. That version is definitely my least favorite of the three TV versions of Cinderella.

  32. The problem with the film is you have a Japanese playing a Chinese- almost as bad as Marlon Brando in Teahouse for the August Moon which I saw for the first time the other night on TCM and cringed the whole time watching. How is that alowed to be shown yet Song Of the South not?

  33. TJPC

    After having seen a full professional production of Pal Joey, I think the Sinatra version is a travesty!

    Definitely agree about PAL JOEY. The original score is incredible and what ended up in the film was misused. The best thing I can say about the film version is that it gives Sinatra some great songs nicely arranged to sing. I know that Gene Kelly, who created the role on Broadway, was offered the part but his MGM contract prevented it. Oddly enough there have been few major revivals of PAL JOEY over the last few decades. It would seem to be a very sexy show done right. I envy you for getting to see a good production of this.

  34. This is what I found on Wikipedia (for what it's worth):

    At present, MGM (via its acquisition of The Samuel Goldwyn Company) owns the theatrical and television rights to this movie, as well as other certain Rodgers and Hammerstein productions, while the original distributor Universal owns only the home video rights. (Universal also holds the copyright to this movie.)

    That may also explain why it is not a Movies Anywhere title.

  35. noel aguirre

    The problem with the film is you have a Japanese playing a Chinese- almost as bad as Marlon Brando in Teahouse for the August Moon which I saw for the first time the other night on TCM and cringed the whole time watching. How is that alowed to be shown yet Song Of the South not?

    I know it was accepted and customary at the time, and I never thought too much about it as a kid when watching these films, but it is cringe-inducing now to see. The worst example to me being Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which nearly ruins the film for me now. I’m glad for the opportunity to see the work of Juanita Hall since I never had a chance to see her on stage, but to see an African-American woman play Vietnamese or Chinese just doesn’t play anymore. I can easily put it in its historical context, but that doesn’t make it easier to watch anymore.

  36. Considering that Juanita Hall’s roles in South Pacific and FDS were written for her by the very best I don’t understand why you would find her cringeworthy. I think she is pretty wonderful in both films and adds enormously to them. Umeki was Japanese so you cannot watch her either in FDS?

    By the time Pal Joey was made Kelly was no longer the star he once was and he was looking a very hard 40 something pushing 50. So it’s hard to believe(I’m not saying you’re wrong) he was seriously considered for the film at that point. Hardly the handsome charming 30 yr old with the killer smile he was when he originated the role he also had at that point a few big flops behind him. Sinatra is too old as well but at least his re-ascension gave him box office appeal and his voice was in its full glory. Of course Harry Cohn could have made a wonderful film of it in the early 40s(well except for those pesky censorship problems) with Kelly and Rita Hayworth as the young woman about the time of Cover Girl when Louis B didn’t know what to make of Kelly until Cohn showed him. Why For Me and My Gal didn’t give the canny showman a clue is hard to understand.

    By the way on youtube there is a newsreel clip of the premiere of FDS at Radio City where it had its NY first run engagement. You see Rodgers and Kwan among others and an un pc Henny Youngman.

  37. roxy1927

    Considering that Juanita Hall's roles in South Pacific and FDS were written for her by the very best I don't understand why you would find her cringeworthy. I think she is pretty wonderful in both films and adds enormously to them.[…]

    "You like?"

    JohnMor

    I’m glad for the opportunity to see the work of Juanita Hall since I never had a chance to see her on stage, but to see an African-American woman play Vietnamese or Chinese just doesn’t play anymore..

    "You no like?"

  38. I think there is some type of rights issue involved with this film for different media. I believe Universal retains the copyright and the home video rights, but all other rights may now be with MGM (the successor in interest to the Samuel Goldwyn Company).

    IMHO not the best adaptation of a R&H musical as the lead actress’ singing voice is dubbed.

  39. There are two competing casting ideas in recent years: "authentic casting" and "non-traditional casting". Both of these have their triumphs and failures.

    It seems to me that if you accept "non-traditional casting" to allow Audra McDonald to sing in The Sound of Music and Carousel, you might also have to accept Jonathan Price in Miss Saigon. Both of these actors are among the best that we have working today.

    The theater, especially, is about illusion. Movies arguably require more realism.

    Casting FDS has always been a problem. Our recent local production in Palo Alto had several Hispanic actors, several Vietnamese, one Japanese, and a few others that I don't think are ethnically Chinese. This is in Palo Alto, CA, which has a 30% ethnically Chinese population. When I have asked the 42nd Street Moon company to produce FDS, they told me that they couldn't find a sufficiently ethnic cast. This is in San Francisco BTW!

  40. deepscan

    I think there is some type of rights issue involved with this film for different media. I believe Universal retains the copyright and the home video rights, but all other rights may now be with MGM (the successor in interest to the Samuel Goldwyn Company).

    IMHO not the best adaptation of a R&H musical as the lead actress’ singing voice is dubbed.

    Like the lead actor in the film version of South Pacific was.

  41. I think there is some type of rights issue involved with this film for different media. I believe Universal retains the copyright and the home video rights, but all other rights may now be with MGM (the successor in interest to the Samuel Goldwyn Company).

    IMHO not the best adaptation of a R&H musical as the lead actress’ singing voice is dubbed.

    ahollis

    Like the lead actor in the film version of South Pacific was.

    And like the lead actress in The King and I, if I might add.

    Not sure why multi-quote option isn’t working.

  42. B-ROLL

    Perhaps they just need some "Happy Talk" 😉 to make their dreams come true …

    Me no like.
    No seriously- the lead in FDS is a Japanese playing a Chinese and an African American running around in Yellowface singing “Chop Suey!”
    And most of the songs sound like the lyrics were written by Charlie Chan.
    Really?

  43. roxy1927

    Considering that Juanita Hall's roles in South Pacific and FDS were written for her by the very best I don't understand why you would find her cringeworthy. I think she is pretty wonderful in both films and adds enormously to them. Umeki was Japanese so you cannot watch her either in FDS?

    I never said Juanita Hall’s performances were cringeworthy. The concept of cross-racial casting is cringeworthy. Blackface, brownface and yellowface simply do not play as well today as they did in the past.

  44. But you're all okay with, for example, an African-American playing Billy Bigelow, right, as in the last revival? And Audra playing Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, right? And you're horrified by Yul Brynner in The King and I, right? Only one of the greatest performances in the history of musical theater and film. Right? And where does it end? Are you okay with English actors playing Americans? Are you okay with Americans playing Poles? Are you okay with Catholics playing Jews? Can only lawyers play lawyers? Can only a Roma play Esmeralda now? Because it's no longer about how well you act or sing or how perfect you are for a role, it's only about being absolutely true to the ethnicity? So, a Latinx cannot possibly play ANY ROLE but a Latinx, right?

  45. noel aguirre

    Me no like.
    No seriously- the lead in FDS is a Japanese playing a Chinese and an African American running around in Yellowface singing “Chop Suey!”

    Memoirs Of A Geisha had a Chinese actress playing a Japanese and I suppose you object to that too. Juanita Hall was not "running around in yellowface" in Flower Drum Song anymore than she was running around in brownface playing a Polynesian in South Pacific.

    No doubt you also have objections to:

    Jennifer Beals, an African American actress playing a white woman in Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle
    Omar Sharif, an Egyptian playing a Russian in Doctor Zhivago
    Claudia Cardinale, an Italian actress playing a Mexican in The Professionals.
    Topol, an Israeli actor playing a Greek in For Your Eyes Only
    Rita Moreno, a Puerto Rican actress playing an Italian in The Four Seasons
    Anthony Quinn, a Mexican Irish actor playing a Greek in Zorba The Greek and The Guns Of Navarone
    Irene Papas, a Greek actress playing an Iranian in Into The Night.
    George Chakiris, a Greek actor playing a Puerto Rican in West Side Story
    Ellen Burstyn, a gentile actress of Irish French ancestry playing a Jew in Requiem For A Dream
    Tony Shaloub, a Lebanese actor playing an Italian in Big Night

    I could go on ad infinitum but you get the point …..

  46. Spielberg must object because he’s remaking West Side Story as Natalie Wood wasn’t Puerto Rican nor George Chakiris and no one spoke Spanish except “A boy like dat he keel your brodduh!”.

  47. Hard to watch I would say is pretty much the same thing as cringeworthy. However just using your words I would say her performances are anything but hard to watch. She brings a hard desperate and sometimes licentious nasty edge to Bloody Mary. And in FDS she gives a very warm humorous musical comedy performance. Dick and Oscar knew what they were doing.

  48. haineshisway

    But you're all okay with, for example, an African-American playing Billy Bigelow, right, as in the last revival? And Audra playing Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, right? And you're horrified by Yul Brynner in The King and I, right? Only one of the greatest performances in the history of musical theater and film. Right? And where does it end? Are you okay with English actors playing Americans? Are you okay with Americans playing Poles? Are you okay with Catholics playing Jews? Can only lawyers play lawyers? Can only a Roma play Esmeralda now? Because it's no longer about how well you act or sing or how perfect you are for a role, it's only about being absolutely true to the ethnicity? So, a Latinx cannot possibly play ANY ROLE but a Latinx, right?

    You are comparing races with professions? Seriously?

    Why shouldn’t an African-American play Billy Bigelow? His race is not pertinent to the piece. Same with Dolly, Mame, Annie, Harold Hill, Prince Charming or most other roles. The roles I referred to, Mr. Yunioshi, Bloody Mary and Madame Liang are specifically certain races, and the in the case of the R&H musicals, their races are endemic to the plots and themes of the pieces. They are about the specific experiences OF those races. If it’s just about casting great singers and stars, why didn’t they cast Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in Porgy and Bess? No need to dub then. Just put them in blackface.

    The implication that only white performers can be “the best” for any role is specious at best. People are so quick to defend blackface, brownface and yellowface but they never suggest whiteface. Why not cast Nat King Cole in whiteface as Lt. Cable? He would have sung “Younger Than Springtime” sublimely, wouldn’t he? No one would have ever considered such an idea as appropriate. But the opposite still gets defended even in 2019.

  49. noel aguirre

    Spielberg obviously must object because he's remaking West Side Story as Natalie Wood wasn't Puerto Rican nor George Chakiris and no one spoke Spanish except "A boy like dat who keel your brodduh!".

    Oh, the same Steven Spielberg who cast and directed Chinese actresses like Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh as Japanese in Memoirs Of A Geisha? The Steven Spielberg that cast Welsh actor John Rhys Davies as an Egyptian in Raiders Of The Lost Ark? The same Steven Spielberg that cast Australian Eric Bana as an Israeli in Munich? That Steven Spielberg? Spielberg is not remaking West Side Story because Natalie Wood and George Chakiris weren't Puerto Rican. He's remaking it because he wants to.

  50. As long as the spirit and the ideas of a past actor's portrayal was intelligent and aimed for the highest levels of what it was to be in the skin and soul of a character, then I'd say that such moments in time had its heart in the right place. I have yet to hear from any member of the Asian community – to which I lived within for three years overseas – such complaints concerning "The Last Emperor"; as one of its leading actresses was not Chinese but, rather, of South Korean descent and was born in Rhode Island. Nor, for that matter, were there any known complaints about the director of "The Last Emperor" who, as we all know, was pure Italian. But speak of Mickey Rooney and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and that's where the rightfully heated discussions begin. We go and we grow; and the past is our foundation for the future.

  51. Thomas T

    Oh, the same Steven Spielberg who cast and directed Chinese actresses like Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh as Japanese in Memoirs Of A Geisha? The Steven Spielberg that cast Welsh actor John Rhys Davies as an Egyptian in Raiders Of The Lost Ark? The same Steven Spielberg that cast Australian Eric Bana as an Israeli in Munich? That Steven Spielberg? Spielberg is not remaking West Side Story because Natalie Wood and George Chakiris weren't Puerto Rican. He's remaking it because he smells a moneymaker, not for altruistic reasons.

    BS-if that’s the case then he would be remaking the Sound of Music with Beyoncé.

  52. Personally, I think we have gotten off track on the discussion of Flower Drum Song. To keep this more on FDS Its good that members of the original cast were recruited for the film version, including Miyoshi Umeki as Mei Li, Juanita Hall as Madam Liang and Patrick Adiarte as Wang San. Meanwhile, Jack Soo was elevated from his stage role of Frankie Wing to portray the leading role of Sammy Fong on screen. Soo had understudied the role on Broadway, where it was played by Caucasian Larry Blyden, who himself was an eleventh-hour replacement for Larry Storch. None of these actors were of the ethnicity of their character.

  53. noel aguirre

    BS-if that’s the case then he would be remaking the Sound of Music with Beyoncé.
    Besides that- WSS is a registered film classic and won 10 Academy Awards- He’s never directed a musical before and I smell a filmmaker trying to politically correct it.

    And then on a whole other level did Ben Hur need to be remade or Psycho??

    If any musical is in need of a remake it would be Carousel. And by the way the black Billy Bigelow was magnificent on Broadway.

    Why would Mr. Spielberg think a new film of The Sound Of Music starring Beyoncé would be a money spinner?

  54. Robin9

    Why would Mr. Spielberg think a new film of The Sound Of Music starring Beyoncé would be a money spinner?

    Or that wanting to remake WSS would automatically translate into wanting to remake TSOM. With or without Beyoncé.

  55. noel aguirre

    BS-if that’s the case then he would be remaking the Sound of Music with Beyoncé ….. I smell a filmmaker trying to politically correct it. And then on a whole other level did Ben Hur need to be remade or Psycho?

    Like Madonna, Beyonce has not proved herself at the box office. Dream Girls was a hit but not because of her. It had an ensemble cast and was based on a hit Broadway musical and the film belonged to Jennifer Hudson.The Lion King is a huge hit but again, not because of Beyonce. It would have been a hit with Rihanna or Janet Jackson singing Beyonce's part. Did Ben Hur or Psycho need to be remade? Probably not but I have no objections to remakes on principle. Remake them all I say!

    But we can finally agree on one thing. I too smell a filmmaker trying to be politically correct. 🙂

  56. PMF

    And besides, Beyonce at age 37 is now too old to play Maria; who was 22 years old when she married the 47 year old Captain.:roll:

    Taylor Swift would be the right age but I am not advocating a remake of The Sound Of Music with Ms. Swift. 🙂 Nothing against her, she seems quite sweet and though I'd never buy any of her music, when I hear one of her pop concoctions, it doesn't offend my music sensibilities.

  57. Robin9

    Why would Mr. Spielberg think a new film of The Sound Of Music starring Beyoncé would be a money spinner?

    Because The Sound of Music was the all time money maker until Star Wars and needs to be remade like West Side Story except now with the number one recording artist currently- Why else?

    Thomas T

    Taylor Swift would be the right age but I am not advocating a remake of The Sound Of Music with Ms. Swift. 🙂 Nothing against her, she seems quite sweet and though I'd never buy any of her music, when I hear one of her pop concoctions, it doesn't offend my music sensibilities.

    You’re right. May I suggest Jackie the Voice of an Angel Evancho instead?

  58. Robin9

    Why would Mr. Spielberg think a new film of The Sound Of Music starring Beyoncé would be a money spinner?

    Because The Sound of Music was the all time money maker until Star Wars and needs to be remade like West Side Story except now with the number one recording artist currently- Why else?

    Thomas T

    Taylor Swift would be the right age but I am not advocating a remake of The Sound Of Music with Ms. Swift. 🙂 Nothing against her, she seems quite sweet and though I'd never buy any of her music, when I hear one of her pop concoctions, it doesn't offend my music sensibilities.

    You’re right. May I suggest Jackie the Voice of an Angel Evancho instead?

  59. JohnMor

    Or that wanting to remake WSS would automatically translate into wanting to remake TSOM. With or without Beyoncé.

    Because both are idiotic ideas to begin with?
    He should remake Citizen Kane and someone definitely needs to remake The Color Purple

  60. JohnMor

    Or that wanting to remake WSS would automatically translate into wanting to remake TSOM. With or without Beyoncé.

    Because both are idiotic ideas to begin with?
    He should remake Citizen Kane and someone definitely needs to remake The Color Purple

  61. noel aguirre

    Because The Sound of Music was the all time money maker until Star Wars and needs to be remade like West Side Story except now with the number one recording artist currently- Why else?

    Very few things in this world are absolutely certain, but one of that very few is that The Sound Of Music does not need to be re-made!

  62. Thomas T

    Did Ben Hur or Psycho need to be remade? Probably not but I have no objections to remakes on principle. Remake them all I say!

    No, Thomas, no! Remake only that vast majority which were far less than their potential. But never, ever attempt a re-make of that tiny minority of films which were perfect first time around. Do not, in any circumstances re-make The Third Man, North by Northwest, Rio Bravo, Singin' In The Rain etc. etc.

  63. JohnMor

    You are comparing races with professions? Seriously? Or even nationalities?

    Why shouldn’t an African-American play Billy Bigelow? His race is not pertinent to the piece. Same with Dolly, Mame, Annie, Harold Hill, Prince Charming or most other roles. The roles I referred to, Mr. Yunioshi, Bloody Mary and Madame Liang are specifically certain races, and in the case of the R&H musicals, their races are endemic to the plots and themes of the pieces. They are about the specific experiences OF those races. If it’s just about casting great singers and stars, why didn’t they cast Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in Porgy and Bess? No need to dub then. Just put them in blackface.

    The implication that only white performers can be “the best” for any role is specious at best. People are so quick to defend blackface, brownface and yellowface but they never suggest whiteface. Why not cast Nat King Cole in whiteface as Lt. Cable? He would have sung “Younger Than Springtime” sublimely, wouldn’t he? No one would have ever considered such an idea as appropriate. But the opposite still gets defended even in 2019.

    I don't have any problem with a black actor playing Billy Bigelow, but what's been done so far is stunt casting. If you're going to cast Billy as black and leave Julie as white, their daughter damn well better be mixed race. Otherwise you're asking me to believe that biology doesn't exist. And you better account somehow for the radical change in the townfolks' reaction to what would have been heresy at the time and place where Carousel takes place. You could make all three black, which would ameliorate that townspeople reaction problem. A black couple would be far more likely accepted than a mixed marriage at that time and place. In short, I don't have problem with non-traditional casting if you do it believably. Just making Billy black without anything else fails the test.

  64. Blind casting can really take you out of a show or movie. We once saw a wonderfully talented Asian actress enact the role of Belle in a touring company of Beauty and The Beast. Not that we were really going to buy the story as real anyway, but it really caused a lack of suspension of belief every time she was on stage.

  65. As long as someone is talented enough to put over a role, I don't think it matters a bit what the person's race is.

    Two examples come to mind:

    When DC's Signature Theatre staged LES MISERABLES, Young Eponine was white but grew up to be a black girl! Older Eponine was played by Felicia Curry, who nailed the role. I might have been taken aback for a second or two, but once I realized she was playing Eponine, I just enjoyed her performance.

    The Carnegie Hall concert version of SOUTH PACIFIC, which was shown on PBS, starred Reba McEntire as Nellie Forbush, who is shocked to learn that her sweetheart Emile de Becque once had an interracial relationship. Um, maybe Nellie is nearsighted, because Emile was played by Brian Stokes Mitchell!. Again, I smirked for a second or two, but immediately got back into the show and enjoyed both of their performances.

  66. There seems to have been an effort in recent times to cast African Americans in roles simply to redress the balance that these performers didn’t get a fair go in the past. But putting them in incongruous roles often makes a movie look artificial or just wrong or unbelievable. I wish filmmakers would stop doing this.

  67. Thomas T

    Oh, the same Steven Spielberg who cast and directed Chinese actresses like Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh as Japanese in Memoirs Of A Geisha?

    Rob Marshall probably takes issue with part of that sentence. 🙂

  68. ahollis

    Personally, I think we have gotten off track on the discussion of Flower Drum Song. To keep this more on FDS Its good that members of the original cast were recruited for the film version, including Miyoshi Umeki as Mei Li, Juanita Hall as Madam Liang and Patrick Adiarte as Wang San. Meanwhile, Jack Soo was elevated from his stage role of Frankie Wing to portray the leading role of Sammy Fong on screen. Soo had understudied the role on Broadway, where it was played by Caucasian Larry Blyden, who himself was an eleventh-hour replacement for Larry Storch. None of these actors were of the ethnicity ofj.

    Really?? so you would want Jonathan Price to wear Asian face if Miss Saigon is ever filmed too?

  69. RichMurphy

    As long as someone is talented enough to put over a role, I don't think it matters a bit what the person's race is.

    Two examples come to mind:

    When DC's Signature Theatre staged LES MISERABLES, Young Eponine was white but grew up to be a black girl! Older Eponine was played by Felicia Curry, who nailed the role. I might have been taken aback for a second or two, but once I realized she was playing Eponine, I just enjoyed her performance.

    The Carnegie Hall concert version of SOUTH PACIFIC, which was shown on PBS, starred Reba McEntire as Nellie Forbush, who is shocked to learn that her sweetheart Emile de Becque once had an interracial relationship. Um, maybe Nellie is nearsighted, because Emile was played by Brian Stokes Mitchell!. Again, I smirked for a second or two, but immediately got back into the show and enjoyed both of their performances.

    My favorite was the ‘90’s Lincoln Center Carousel revival where Audra McDonald (who was brilliant) married Mr. Snow and had Asian children in Act 2. But what do I know?

  70. Okay, my last word on the subject, I promise (don't make me go back on my word :angry:). I believe an actor should play any role that he can play believably. I have no problem with, say, Denzel Washington playing Marc Antony in a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar because it's Shakespeare's vision/version, not a historically accurate rendering. If, however, they did a historical film about Marc Antony that was ostensibly historically accurate with Washington as Marc Antony, I would have a problem as Marc Antony was not black. I'd have the same problem if, say, Viola Davis played Marie Antoinette. I have zero problems with a black actress playing Ariel in the live action The Little Mermaid. It's a fairy tale, it's not real, anything can and does happen in fairy tales. Just because the animated Little Mermaid was drawn with red hair and white skin doesn't mean the film has to duplicate it.

    I am of Hispanic descent but in the late 1990s, I was cast as a German Nazi soldier in a play. When I asked the director why he cast me in the role instead of one of the fair skinned blondish types that auditioned, he said "You gave the best audition." So may the best man/woman do the part. Now, I'm outta here 🙂

  71. Robin9

    Very few things in this world are absolutely certain, but one of that very few is that The Sound Of Music does not need to be re-made!

    It kinda was with the NBC live broadcast which was released on DVD.

  72. My concern is that a lot of children and young adults watch these restaged or reimagined ideas and get first impressions of the past that paint a pretty picture of easy opportunity for historically marginalized people.
    This minimizes the struggles they were really going through at the time.
    I say this because my own images come from historical films I saw when younger that gave me a sense of what representations were not reflected and then finding out why not.
    Something like “Mary Poppins Returns” is a fantasy that asks us to buy into a stylized musical comedy construct…no one is looking to it for historical accuracy. But for young people it is nevertheless an introduction to the 30s perhaps, and they may not realize that it’s just as fantastical that minorities were given decent jobs in London banks. Or that they were not in council or attendance of Queen Elizabeth as in the recent film about Queen Mary of Scotland.

    Anyway, I did buy “Flower Drum Song” on Vudu and won’t watch my DVD again, except for the extras. Thanks for the heads up.

  73. JohnMor

    You are comparing races with professions? Seriously? Or even nationalities?

    Why shouldn’t an African-American play Billy Bigelow? His race is not pertinent to the piece. Same with Dolly, Mame, Annie, Harold Hill, Prince Charming or most other roles. The roles I referred to, Mr. Yunioshi, Bloody Mary and Madame Liang are specifically certain races, and in the case of the R&H musicals, their races are endemic to the plots and themes of the pieces. They are about the specific experiences OF those races. If it’s just about casting great singers and stars, why didn’t they cast Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in Porgy and Bess? No need to dub then. Just put them in blackface.

    The implication that only white performers can be “the best” for any role is specious at best. People are so quick to defend blackface, brownface and yellowface but they never suggest whiteface. Why not cast Nat King Cole in whiteface as Lt. Cable? He would have sung “Younger Than Springtime” sublimely, wouldn’t he? No one would have ever considered such an idea as appropriate. But the opposite still gets defended even in 2019.

    Sorry, you're all over the map here, friend. Don't put words in people's mouths. That is where this argument goes. No, in the time period that Carousel is set, a white woman would not have publicly taken up with an African American and a white man like Enoch Snow would not have married an African American. So, there's that, isn't there. You cannot compare Mickey Rooney's performance to Juanita Hall – I mean, you think you can win this argument with such an inane comparison? No one said that only white people are best for a role – that's you, friend, and not a single other person in this thread. No one is talking about putting anyone in blackface, that's you, friend. Juanita Hill is not in YELLOW make-up, for God's sake. Seriously. You can live in this PC world of yours – I'll go enjoy Mr. Brynner as The King.

  74. Rick Thompson

    I don't have any problem with a black actor playing Billy Bigelow, but what's been done so far is stunt casting. If you're going to cast Billy as black and leave Julie as white, their daughter damn well better be mixed race. Otherwise you're asking me to believe that biology doesn't exist. And you better account somehow for the radical change in the townfolks' reaction to what would have been heresy at the time and place where Carousel takes place. You could make all three black, which would ameliorate that townspeople reaction problem. A black couple would be far more likely accepted than a mixed marriage at that time and place. In short, I don't have problem with non-traditional casting if you do it believably. Just making Billy black without anything else fails the test.

    I have seen many plays on Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, local performances, and High School performances where it was color-blind casting and it never bothered me. I never thought about what will the townspeople would say or the race of the child. None of that takes me out of the performances.

  75. haineshisway

    Sorry, you're all over the map here, friend. Don't put words in people's mouths. That is where this argument goes. No, in the time period that Carousel is set, a white woman would not have publicly taken up with an African American and a white man like Enoch Snow would not have married an African American. So, there's that, isn't there. You cannot compare Mickey Rooney's performance to Juanita Hall – I mean, you think you can win this argument with such an inane comparison? No one said that only white people are best for a role – that's you, friend, and not a single other person in this thread. No one is talking about putting anyone in blackface, that's you, friend. Juanita Hill is not in YELLOW make-up, for God's sake. Seriously. You can live in this PC world of yours – I'll go enjoy Mr. Brynner as The King.

    Uh…ok. Since nothing you said makes one iota of sense in response to anything I said, we’ll have to leave it there. Although, for the record, I fail to see the “inanity” in comparing the casting of a non-Asian actor playing a Japanese character with a non-Asian actor playing a Chinese character. Seems pretty apples to apples to me. But we’ll have to disagree on that point as well.

    Meanwhile, back to the beautiful HD transfer of FDS.

  76. JohnMor

    Uh…ok. Since nothing you said makes one iota of sense in response to anything I said, we’ll have to leave it there. Although, for the record, I fail to see the “inanity” in comparing the casting of a non-Asian actor playing a Japanese character with a non-Asian actor playing a Chinese character. Seems pretty apples to apples to me. But we’ll have to disagree on that point as well.

    Meanwhile, back to the beautiful HD transfer of FDS.

    At the time of the original FDS, R&H scoured the country for Broadway-ready Asian actors and actresses (or people who looked Asian) to cast. That's why you had Juanita Hall (black) and Larry Blyden (white) in the cast with Pat Suzuki (Japanese), Ed Kenney (Hawaiian), Jack Soo (Japanese), Miyoshi Umeki (Japanese again), Patrick Adiarte (Filipino) along with Keye Luke and Arabella Hong (the only two actual Chinese or Chinese-American) in the lead cast.

  77. Not buying a Vudu copy of anything and definitely not FDS for all the reasons discussed above which are just as important as any steaming digital transfer quality discussion is.

  78. How did Samuel Goldwyn end up with the TV rights when R&H sold the film rights outright to Universal, unlike the self-produced films of Oklahoma! and South Pacific? I saw that same logo when The Disney Channel showed it on their festival of almost every Rodgers & Hammerstein film in 1991. Why Universal never released a widescreen laserdisc of that or Sweet Charity has to be one of the most baffling decisions they ever made (other than the circumstances that led to that vault fire, of course).

    ahollis

    It kinda was with the NBC live broadcast which was released on DVD.

    There was also a BBC production as well.

    haineshisway

    You cannot compare Mickey Rooney's performance to Juanita Hall

    Then maybe a more appropriate point of comparison isn't to Flower Drum Song but to another Blake Edwards movie made seven years later: The Party, where the very white and English Peter Sellers, after having created the very French character of Inspector Clouseau and the very German character of Dr. Strangelove, plays a man from India. Seems like critics were more forgiving of that*, but not so much when Sellers tried something similar twelve years later with the coldly-received The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, which ended up being his last film. And when Edwards actually cast an Asian actor in something, it was to cast Benson Fong as the screeching Chinese chef in S.O.B. This was more than a decade after Fong had played a businessman who could speak non-fractured English in The Love Bug where he helped the protagonists against David Tomlinson, whose movie career would end with Fu Manchu.

    *The late Arte Johnson had a similar character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

  79. noel aguirre

    Not buying a Vudu copy of anything and definitely not FDS for all the reasons discussed above which are just as important as any steaming digital transfer quality discussion is.

    For all the reasons discussed above – the entire film is cast with Asian people and, in a couple of cases only, other minorities, and you have a problem with that. You know who didn't have a problem with that? David Henry Hwang, that's who – he couldn't believe a mainstream American film musical featured an almost all-Asian cast – he talks about being obsessed with it. But you stay on your moral high horse and BOYCOTT, while others, who understand context, when a film was made and more importantly when it takes place, who appreciate the story, the characters, and the songs, enjoy an excellent film musical. Boycott West Side Story while you're at it, and The King and I while you're at it. I'm sure I could name others, too.

  80. Agreed- it’s a period piece for sure. And I’m not boycotting anything but will only buy a physical HD copy of it as I collect musicals.
    And let’s not equate it with West Side Story or The King and I- that’s an insult to not only both Robert Wise and Walter Lang but everyone else on here as it’s far from a classic piece of cinema. And just for the record Hwang was obsessed with it because the story was so godawful and completely and entirely rewrote it and even dropped a song!
    Chop Suey!

  81. Bruce, I wanted to say thank you for posting about this. Watched the vudu version on the projector yesterday and I was very impressed. I wouldn't have known about the vudu version, so thanks again.

  82. noel aguirre

    Agreed- it’s a period piece for sure. And I’m not boycotting anything but will only buy a physical HD copy of it as I collect musicals.
    And let’s not equate it with West Side Story or The King and I- that’s an insult to not only both Robert Wise and Walter Lang but everyone else on here as it’s far from a classic piece of cinema. And just for the record Hwang was obsessed with it because the story was so godawful and completely and entirely rewrote it and even dropped a song!
    Chop Suey!

    Sorry, I was around when the revisal was being developed, so I don't need you to tell me what he was obsessed and not obsessed with. He was obsessed with the film because he'd never seen a movie with so many Asians in it who are being treated with RESPECT. If you are now saying you aren't boycotting anything then your post was very confusing to just about everyone, which is why I responded to it in the way I did. Back to Hwang – the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization came to him and asked him to do the revisal because no one was licensing the show at that point – rather silly in my opinion, since it's delightful and quite different than the film – better structured and not cloying – and he did his revisal, which failed and is not done either. He sucked all the fun out of the show. Oh, and its star, Lea Salonga – did you rail on about HER casting? Last I looked she was hardly Chinese, but Hwang had no problem with her doing the show. I equated it with West Side and King and I because you seem so upset by casting that is not accurate. Both of those films are filled with people who are not the exact ethnicity of the people they are playing. You can't go on about Miss Umeki not being Chinese while ignoring the other films mentioned. Then again, to go on about Miss Umeki is, IMO, just silly.

    I hope you're not saying he dropped Chop Suey from the show because he did not. The only song dropped was The Other Generation, simply because it made no sense with his new plot. They added the cut song My Best Love (which I'd recorded on one of the Lost in Boston albums, with its original orchestration), and they interpolated The Next Time It Happens and I'm happy to tell you that it was my complaining about that interpolation that finally got it excised from the show – they took my suggestion about what to replace it with, too.

    Finally, while I do have a soft spot for the film of Flower Drum Song, it's simply not as good as the Broadway version. The performances are delightful, however. And the score shines with its Alfred Newman arrangements.

  83. haineshisway

    Yes, remember when this thread was positive and praising a beautiful new transfer of Flower Drum Song? I do.

    Can't wait to see this transfer and most definitely would purchase a BD, once available.:thumbs-up-smiley:
    Optional thread title: "A Peking at Flower Drum Song".:)

  84. haineshisway

    The performances are delightful, however. And the score shines with its Alfred Newman arrangements.

    Newman's arrangement of the overture literally gives me goosebumps! What a thing of beauty!

  85. For me, it's Newman's chart for Love, Look Away that puts the film in a whole other class. Robert Russell Bennett's orchestration – and I love Robert Russell Bennett – is ordinary and doesn't find the heartbreak that Newman does. It's fantastic.

  86. haineshisway

    For me, it's Newman's chart for Love, Look Away that puts the film in a whole other class. Robert Russell Bennett's orchestration – and I love Robert Russell Bennett – is ordinary and doesn't find the heartbreak that Newman does. It's fantastic.

    Agreed. I also would have liked the Helen Chou character to have been better used. She is much more important in the original book. The actress in the film is terrific, but the staging and choreography of the number is no match for the scoring. Audiences I was with during original release never got this sequence.

    [I must confess that I often find the "practical" girl in a film to be more to my liking. For example, Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) in Vertigo.]

  87. It has been a while since saw the film, so refresh my memory but doesn't the character who sings "Love Look Away" more or less vanish from the film after that point? It seems like her story is a loose end by the finale. I do think "Love Look Away" is truly one of R and H's most beautiful songs.

  88. Jim*Tod

    It has been a while since saw the film, so refresh my memory but doesn't the character who sings "Love Look Away" more or less vanish from the film after that point? It seems like her story is a loose end by the finale. I do think "Love Look Away" is truly one of R and H's most beautiful songs.

    That is about right. There is more in the book. I think it is perhaps the only "torch song" R&H wrote.

    I wonder if having 3 girls in love with Ta was too much!

  89. haineshisway

    Sorry, I was around when the revisal was being developed, so I don't need you to tell me what he was obsessed and not obsessed with. He was obsessed with the film because he'd never seen a movie with so many Asians in it who are being treated with RESPECT. If you are now saying you aren't boycotting anything then your post was very confusing to just about everyone, which is why I responded to it in the way I did. Back to Hwang – the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization came to him and asked him to do the revisal because no one was licensing the show at that point – rather silly in my opinion, since it's delightful and quite different than the film – better structured and not cloying – and he did his revisal, which failed and is not done either. He sucked all the fun out of the show. Oh, and its star, Lea Salonga – did you rail on about HER casting? Last I looked she was hardly Chinese, but Hwang had no problem with her doing the show. I equated it with West Side and King and I because you seem so upset by casting that is not accurate. Both of those films are filled with people who are not the exact ethnicity of the people they are playing. You can't go on about Miss Umeki not being Chinese while ignoring the other films mentioned. Then again, to go on about Miss Umeki is, IMO, just silly.

    I hope you're not saying he dropped Chop Suey from the show because he did not. The only song dropped was The Other Generation, simply because it made no sense with his new plot. They added the cut song My Best Love (which I'd recorded on one of the Lost in Boston albums, with its original orchestration), and they interpolated The Next Time It Happens and I'm happy to tell you that it was my complaining about that interpolation that finally got it excised from the show – they took my suggestion about what to replace it with, too.

    Finally, while I do have a soft spot for the film of Flower Drum Song, it's simply not as good as the Broadway version. The performances are delightful, however. And the score shines with its Alfred Newman arrangements.

    Well I had read that Hwang was both obsessed with the film because it treated Asians with respect (why wouldn’t it?) but also because of the embarrassing white man STEREOTYPICAL PORTRAYALS of Asians and which is why he rewrote the entire thing- otherwise why rewrite it? So exactly why did he rewrite and not stage as it was originally written then if there’s nothing wrong with it?
    And no I was not saying he dropped Chop Suey.
    And if you had any sense of history you would know the generation of Chinese following WWII would be specifically incensed for having any Japanese play a Chinese and probably vice versa see Memoirs of a Gheisha and it’s controversy. Salonga is Philipino

  90. Robert Crawford

    Only on HTF would people be arguing about the casting of a soon to be 60 year old film. It's kind of late to correct it now.;)

    Not as long as Nancy Kwan is still with us, it ain't.:)
    Hey, come to think of it, Flower Drum Song could be Steven Spielberg's re-make follow-up to West Side Story;
    with Ms. Kwan as technical adviser;
    along with Ted Chapin and Bruce overseeing the musical aspects of the R&H score;
    and the casting of our new unknown Asian talents;
    and directed by Bi Gan;
    with Yao Hung-i and Dong Jinsong as DP.
    Yes, it is far better to remake a diamond in the rough than it is to remake an already established masterwork.
    Other than that, Robert Crawford is correct.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  91. noel aguirre

    Well I had read that Hwang was both obsessed with the film because it treated Asians with respect (why wouldn’t it?) but also because of the embarrassing white man STEREOTYPICAL PORTRAYALS of Asians and which is why he rewrote the entire thing- otherwise why rewrite it? So exactly why did he rewrite and not stage as it was originally written then if there’s nothing wrong with it?
    And no I was not saying he dropped Chop Suey.
    And if you had any sense of history you would know the generation of Chinese following WWII would be specifically incensed for having any Japanese play a Chinese and probably vice versa see Memoirs of a Gheisha and it’s controversy. Salonga is Philipino

    And yet, Mr. Hwang wasn't incensed that Miss Umeki played her character – funny that. And you can't have it all ways from Tuesday. If you're incensed about her casting then it follows you must be incensed about Ms. Salonga, Mr. Chakiris, Ms. Wood, Mr. Brynner… Mr. Hwang was asked to rewrite it, and he took a different road, which was what he felt like doing. The original took its road – to be a – now, wait for it – popular musical comedy of its era. And it was. And it ran FAR longer than Mr. Hwang's more serious version, although there were many criticisms that HE was making it stereotypical, too, just in a different way. But clearly you have your sense of what's what and I, and others, have ours and are able to understand the context of when the show was written and when it takes place and the novel it's based upon.

  92. Bruce, I noticed that the soundtrack cd released on Verve about 20 years ago is out of print now and fetching between $25 and $100 on Amazon. Any chance Kritzerland would be interested and/or able to re-issue it?

    The OBC and the redux both remain in print but it’s a shame the soundtrack isn’t.

  93. Matt Hough

    And the soundtrack LP was one of my most frequently played musicals as a pre-teen.

    The Broadway cast recording was one of my first stereo records. I still play it and love the scratch I put into it.

    I recorded the film soundtrack from the 4-track magnetic mixed into 2 channels when it played the theatre I worked at.

  94. JohnMor

    Bruce, I noticed that the soundtrack cd released on Verve about 20 years ago is out of print now and fetching between $25 and $100 on Amazon. Any chance Kritzerland would be interested and/or able to re-issue it?

    The OBC and the redux both remain in print but it’s a shame the soundtrack isn’t.

    I wish! Universal has been impossible for us – but I'm hoping that might change. I'd love to put it out.

  95. haineshisway

    I wish! Universal has been impossible for us – but I'm hoping that might change. I'd love to put it out.

    I do hope it changes. You do such an excellent job with past releases and the extras on your CD releases are wonderful.

  96. haineshisway

    Don't get too excited. Someone pointed me to Vudu where you can watch Flower Drum Song in what I believe is a brand new high definition transfer. Interestingly, the Universal logo is gone and replaced with a Samuel Goldwyn logo – perhaps they have streaming rights? I'd just watched a bit of the Universal DVD a few weeks ago – well, this is quite the step up from that, let me tell you. Incredible clarity, gorgeous color, and the sound blew me away. I didn't watch it all, but I did see about an hour and skipped around after that. Check it out – you can watch it for free (with ads) or purchase for 6.99. Can someone tell me how the purchase thing works? Do you download it? Anyway, what a pleasant surprise and I'd love to hear other thoughts.

    https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Flower-Drum-Song/5882

    Great to hear perhaps this is how they are going to release the Blu ray edition the CinemaScope version of Oklahoma! on Blu ray starts with the Samuel Goldwyn logo!

  97. TJPC

    100 000 000 miracles. This movie and the Pat Boone “State Fair” are the only R&H movies not available on Blu ray. I wish the companies involved would put them out instead of celebrating the 30th and 1/2 Birthday of “The Sound Of Mucilage” with another configuration — including a free nuns habit!

    Me too!

  98. haineshisway

    It is, perhaps, and I know this is heresy, my favorite R&H score. I was not aware they were still licensing the original version. That actually makes me want to do the show 🙂

    Mine too along with 'Allegro'; 'State Fair'; 'Cinderella'; 'Pipe Dream' &'Me and Juliet'. Flower Drum Song was R&H's greatest musical comedy so I am guilty of heresy as well!!

  99. richardburton84

    I still need to see this one, though I like what I’ve heard in the clips I’ve seen of it, so hoping a Blu-ray can come out soon so I can fix that. As for my favorite R&H score, I’m going to have to go Cinderella (which I’m sure will be considered just as heretical), though Carousel is a close second.

    Yes I would like to see a remastered colorized version of the Julie Andrews 'Cinderella' one of their greatest scores

  100. roxy1927

    Hard to watch I would say is pretty much the same thing as cringeworthy. However just using your words I would say her performances are anything but hard to watch. She brings a hard desperate and sometimes licentious nasty edge to Bloody Mary. And in FDS she gives a very warm humorous musical comedy performance. Dick and Oscar knew what they were doing.

    They did indeed the ones they liked they used more than once Juanita Hall, Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Shirley Jones ,Gordon MacRae etc

  101. haineshisway

    I wish! Universal has been impossible for us – but I'm hoping that might change. I'd love to put it out.

    Actually, the FLOWER DRUM SONG movie soundtrack album may not belong to Universal anymore. It was a Rodgers and Hammerstein Records, Inc., production that was leased to Decca initially. Maybe the Decca lease isn't up yet, I don't know, but I do know it's like the 1959 THE SOUND OF MUSIC OC album. The lease to Columbia is up, and the R&H group is putting it out itself through their Concord/Craft Recordings.

    https://craftrecordings.com/thesoundofmusic-60thanniversary/

    –JVS

  102. edelweissflower

    Yes I would like to see a remastered colorized version of the Julie Andrews 'Cinderella' one of their greatest scores

    No, you wouldn't. Only a kinescope exists of it, and those are low quality results of placing a camera in front of a broadcast. There's a reason why they've only done colorizing on filmed productions, and that is because the resolution of film is lightyears better so there's much more information to work with. It's why you've seen colorized TV shows of Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners — all shot on film — and not much else from television.

  103. TJPC

    100 000 000 miracles. This movie and the Pat Boone “State Fair” are the only R&H movies not available on Blu ray. I wish the companies involved would put them out instead of celebrating the 30th and 1/2 Birthday of “The Sound Of Mucilage” with another configuration — including a free nuns habit!

    Actually, the Pat Boone State Fair was issued on Blu ray by Twilight Time (I have it). Apparently, it's still available.
    https://www.twilighttimemovies.com/state-fair-blu-ray/

  104. Rick Thompson

    No, you wouldn't. Only a kinescope exists of it, and those are low quality results of placing a camera in front of a broadcast. There's a reason why they've only done colorizing on filmed productions, and that is because the resolution of film is lightyears better so there's much more information to work with. It's why you've seen colorized TV shows of Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners — all shot on film — and not much else from television.

    yes thats true but wasn't sure if they could somehow colorize it they have color photos of the actual color broadcast to match the colors, did you know there is a least another kinescope of the show which was made as dress rehearsal? would love to have that on video too

  105. edelweissflower

    yes thats true but wasn't sure if they could somehow colorize it they have color photos of the actual color broadcast to match the colors, did you know there is a least another kinescope of the show which was made as dress rehearsal? would love to have that on video too

    I'm sure Jon Cypher would love to have it since he likely didn't mess up in it the way he did in the broadcast version.

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