"South Pacific"

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Tarantella
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Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:09 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

"South Pacific"

Post by Tarantella » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:37 am

Tonight I'm indulging myself, yet again, with the marvellous music of Rodgers & Hammerstein - in particular "South Pacific" (the film soundtrack). The wonderful orchestrations of Robert Russell Bennett for the stage presentation in the 40's were used for the 50's film. My beloved Conrad Salinger worked with RRB in the late 20's/early 30's on Broadway and this accounts for some of 'Connie's' arrangements for the Freed Unit at times, sounding very similar to Robert Russell Bennett's orchestrations for Rodgers & Hammerstein. The 'fingerprints' are very strong. Here's some information from Wiki about RRB:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Russell_Bennett

Rodgers actually claimed that RRB made his music "sound better than it really was", particularly for the "Victory at Sea" series for television.

"South Pacific" is a remarkably eclectic score compared with the other major productions. "Bali Ha'i", a hymn of fragrant mysticism in a modal sound-world; "Honey Bun" and its roaring twenties brashness; the quasi operatic "Twin Soliloquies/Some Enchanted Evening"; a censorious and dramatic ballad "Carefully Taught"; the lushly romantic "Cockeyed Optimist" and its plaintive and tragic counterpart "Younger Than Springtime" - those last amongst the few 'typically' R&H songs in this score. "There is Nothing Like a Dame" and "Bloody Mary" are boisterous macho celebrations of the female.

Given the source material of "South Pacific", it's probably unsurprising that the score is so eclectic. The mixture of comedy and tragedy in this play/film doesn't always work, but I love it anyway!!

And tonight its ringing in my ears as I track some dear friends on internet Flight Radar, winging their way to Singapore. Technology!!! Bloody incredible:

http://www.flightradar24.com/-0.17,103.91/7

jbuck919
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Re: "South Pacific"

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:27 pm

It's one of their great classic scores, and the movie wisely uses every single number from the play. (In contrast, Sound of Music drops two weaker numbers from the play and replaces them with two that are even weaker.)

Juanita Hall, who played Bloody Mary on Broadway, was somewhat vocally exhausted by the time of the movie. You can find her singing Bali Hai in her own voice on YouTube and understand why she had to be dubbed. However, there is also a YouTube of Happy Talk with Hall's own voice, to show you what might have been. It is a much smoother transition from the speaking to the singing than we hear in the movie. (For some reason, this print is left-right reversed.)


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Tarantella
Posts: 1089
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:09 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: "South Pacific"

Post by Tarantella » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:13 pm

And the very serious and socially controversial issue of miscegenation is right there in that tender scene. Rodgers & Hammerstein never dodged danger in their shows. Oscar was a superb human being.

Hall's performance was brilliant - warm, sympathetic and very appealing - and she nicely captured the wiley side of her character. John Kerr was an interesting actor - a Harvard trained lawyer who returned to practice in LA after his film career ended. He always played the "sensitive" type (remember "Tea and Sympathy"?!! Vincente Minnelli - another absolute hero!). Kerr was just right for the part of the "Loo-tellen" in "South Pacific" and rendered events even more tragic with those soulful eyes and magnificent tenor speaking voice of his. (I have a complete, knee-shaking weakness for the well-modulated male speaking voice!)

Thanks for posting the mellifluous "Happy Talk". I can remember singing it at school with a girlfriend - gosh we were hardened youngsters back then: ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

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