Making the Grades
In the midst of World War II, Lieutenant Joseph Cable (John Kerr) flies into the Solomon Islands to prepare for a mission that will roadblock the Japanese from making further advances towards America. But Cable's task is anything but a walk on the beach. First he must convince French local Emile de Becque (Rossano Brazzi) to be a scout with him on a nearby island under Japanese occupation.
Facing an extreme risk of being discovered by the Japanese, de Becque's decision is made more difficult after setting eyes upon Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor), whom he meets "across a crowded room." Forbush heads up the nursing contingent of the local US Naval base, and is just as smitten with the Frenchman. Meanwhile, Cable takes a few moments away from his official duties to explore another nearby island, the mysterious Bali Ha'i, where the seasoned trader of wares, Bloody Mary (Juanita Hall), offers him her most precious article--the lovely Liat (France Nuyen)--her Tonganese daughter.
Heavy on the romance and light on the pounding war that was surrounding them, South Pacific affirms that love isn't blind after both Cable and Forbush are presented with separate scenarios that test their tolerance toward those of a different color. Diving into aspects of prejudice, both characters yearn to overlook embedded attitudes that are driving their romances oceans apart.
Fortunately, when the going gets tough, characters usually break into song. Armed with a battery of classics from Rodgers and Hammerstein's famous score, Forbush attempts to wash that man right out of her hair, while Cable cajoles with the men in affirming that there's nothin' like a dame... especially when you're planning some enchanted evening.
Aside from a handful of minor profanities, a few bikinis (al la 1950's), talk of war and women, the greatest concern for parents may be Cable's eagerness in getting to know Liat. Fortunately, the production code of the time keeps their implied relationship very vague.
Academy Award nominated for cinematography, this colorful epic (in some scenes the sky is literally canary yellow) is best viewed in the wide screen DVD or VHS version, providing more Pacific in the picture.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about South Pacific.
There is very little military action in this film even though it’s set in a war zone. The Navy men depicted here are anxious to fight, and the wounded men are portrayed as nicely recovering and in good spirits. Do you think this is an accurate picture of war?
In one scene Nellie argues she was born with prejudices she’s powerless to overcome. But Joe Cable claims bigotry is something you are taught. Where do you think these feelings and attitudes come from? Can they be changed?