Cast: Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr, Ray Walston, Juanita Hall, France Nuyen, Russ Brown, Jack Mullaney, Ken Clark, Floyd Simmons, Candace Lee, Warren Hsieh, Tom Laughlin, Francis Kahele, Robert Jacobs, John Gabriel, Richard Harrison, Ron Ely, Steve Wiland, Richard H. Cutting, Joe Bailey, Buck Class, Richard Kiser, Linc Foster, Doug McClure, Stephen Ferry, Beverly Aadland, Jim Stacy, Muriel Smith, Giorgio Tozzi, Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft
Two children, islanders Ngana (Lee) and Jerome (Hsieh), sing Dites Moi (Tell Me). In 1943, Ensign Nellie Forbush (Gaynor) is at an island in the Coral Sea where U.S. Navy personnel prepare to engage the forces of the Empire of Japan. The Navy is trying to persuade a local man, Emile de Becque (Brazzi), to help establish an outpost on one of the Solomon Islands. After meeting at a dinner party, Nellie and Emile begin to see each other. Emile is a middle-aged French plantation owner. Nellie is a young nurse from Arkansas, new to the South Pacific, who radiates honesty and candor. She and Emile grow increasingly attracted to each other. Lieutenant Joseph Cable (Kerr) arrives at the U.S. Navy base and is noticed by Bloody Mary (Hall), a Tonkinese (Vietnamese) woman who thinks Cable may be the right man for her daughter Liat (Nuyen). Lieutenant Cable has a secret intelligence mission. Seabee Luther Billis (Walston) is one of the Navy men made restless by the lack of amenities or action at the island base. The Navy nurses are difficult to reach officers, and Bloody Mary, a stout middle-aged merchant, is one of the few island women in sight. Billis convinces Lieutenant Cable to sign out a boat and accompany him to a mysterious nearby island, Bali Ha’i. The islanders keep their young women at Bali Ha’i, and it is there that Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her teenage daughter, Liat. Nellie attends a party where she enjoys meeting Emile’s friends. She finds Ngana and Jerome adorable, but is unaware of their true relationship to Emile. Nellie and Emile are in love with each other. Cable and Liat also fall in love, as Bloody Mary intended. Emile tells Nellie about his past, including the fact that Ngana and Jerome are his children from his marriage to a Polynesian girl that has passed away. He asks Nellie to marry him. Torn between her love for Emile and her reservations about marrying a widower with two interracial children, Nellie refuses his offer. Bloody Mary, aware of Cable’s liaison with Liat, insists that he marry Liat, but Cable tells her he cannot. Infuriated, Bloody Mary takes her daughter away. The time comes for Lieutenant Cable to go on his mission, and Emile, despondent over Nellie’s refusal, agrees to accompany him. The two are taken to an island in an enemy-controlled area, where they spy on Japanese naval operations. Nellie and Liat learn that Emile and Cable face extreme danger. The two men radio their observations from their hidden outpost, doing their best to evade detection by the Japanese. The menace of war, always nearby, is about to touch them. The musical’s many wonderful songs include Some Enchanted Evening, There is Nothin’ Like a Dame, Younger Than Springtime, and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair. There is a peculiar use of mood-signifying color filters for some scenes. Filmed partly on location at Kauai, Ibiza, and at Tioman Island. Music by Richard Rodgers. Script by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan. Based on the Broadway musical of the same name and on the book Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener.