South Pacific Parent Guide
Diving into aspects of prejudice, this musical follows two characters who yearn to overlook cultural attitudes that are driving their romances oceans apart.
Parent Movie Review
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 for more Pacific scenery in the picture.Directed by Joshua Logan. Starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr. Running time: 157 minutes. Theatrical release March 19, 1958. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is South Pacific rated Not Rated? South Pacific is rated Not Rated by the MPAA The MPAA did not rate South Pacific due to its release prior to 1958.
Overall: B A musical tale of two Americans struggling to overcoming prejudice while serving in the South Pacific during World War II, although it focuses more on the song and dance than the inner conflict.
Violence: B Airplanes are shot at on several occasions. Souvenir seller displays shrunken head. Man talks about killing another man in self-defense. Bound and squealing pig shown at boar ceremony. Man dances on hot coals. Pranksters throw dart at man hitting him in the backside. Hole shot in tail of airplane. Man makes angry threats to navy man who disobeyed orders. Man accidentally falls from plane, but is saved by parachute. Inflatable boat dropped on man. Men shot at in several scenes. Planes drop bombs. Recovering wounded men shown in hospital. Men bury dead body.
Sexual Content: B- All characters clothing reflects the warm climate, with shirtless men and women in short shorts, bikini tops, and bathing suits, as well as depictions of native people wearing typical south pacific traditional dress. Men deprived of female company sing about their admiration of a feminine figure. Several instances of men talking about looking for female company. Foreign woman calls man “saxy” Body parts masked or covered in bathing suits during shower scenes. Several depictions of unmarried couples hugging and kissing. Sexual relationship implied between unmarried man and woman. The phrases “lover” and “make love” are used. Girls wear dance costumes, show legs and swing hips in dance sequence accompanying song with some sexual references. Cross-dressing man wears grass skirt and coconut-shell bra.
Language: B At least: 11 mild profanities (some appearing in lyrics of a song and a character’s name). Some mild name calling and teasing also depicted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: B Secondary character smokes cigar on several occasions. Main characters engage in social drinking in several scenes, one of which has character admitting to being drunk.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
South Pacific Parents' Guide
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?
The most recent home video release of South Pacific movie is March 31, 2009. Here are some details…
South Pacific: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: 31 March 2009
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical South Pacific celebrates its 50th Anniversary with this 2-disc Blu-ray release. Authored in BD-J with AVEC (MPEG 4) compression on two dual-layer 50GB discs, the movie is presented in widescreen format with audio tracks recorded in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (English), 4.0 Dolby Surround (English), Stereo (English), and 5.1 Dolby Digital (French and Spanish). Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin.
Bonus extras include audio commentaries (by President Ted Chapin of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and by musical theater writer Gerard Alessandrini), English Sing-A-Long Karaoke subtitles, and a Songs-Only option.
As well there are:
-Extended Road Show Version (with 15 additional minutes of footage).
-Commentary by Film Historian Richard Barrios.
- Passion, Prejudice and South Pacific: Creating An American Masterpiece (a full-length documentary).
- Making Of South Pacific .
-60 Minutes Exclusive: The Tales of the South Pacific (with Diane Sawyer and writer James Michener).
-Fox Movietone News: South Pacific on the Screen A Perfect Hit and State Department Confers High Honor on South Pacific.
-Vintage Stage Excerpts Performed by Original Broadway Stars Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza (Some Enchanted Evening and A Wonderful Guy).
-Mitzy Gaynor Screen Test.
-Original Theatrical Trailer.
Related home video titles:
South Pacific was produced in a made-for-TV movie in 2001. Check our review of this updated version. For a look at other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals see our reviews of The Sound Of Music and The King And I.