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 Classic Movie Reviews

South Pacific Musical

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JAMES MICHENER
( Feb 1907 -- Oct 1997 )  

According to his own account, Michener never knew who his biological parents were or exactly when or where he was born. He said he was raised by an adoptive mother in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Swarthmore College in 1929 with degrees in English and psychology. He then travelled and studied in Europe for two years before becoming a high school teacher. From 1933 through 1936 he taught English at George School in Newton, PA, then earned his master's degree from Colorado State Teachers' College. After a year of teaching at Harvard, he joined Macmillan Publishers as a text book editor. During World War II he served in the Pacific area as a naval historian, travelling widely for his Navy job and also gathering ideas and materials he later used to write his Pulitzer Prize novel, Tales of the South Pacific. The book was adapted as a Broadway play and then as a motion picture. The 40 volumes he produced over his career (which sold 75 million copies) included such classics as: Hawaii (also made into a motion picture), Centennial (made into a 12-part TV series), Chesapeake, Alaska, Texas and Poland. His meticulously- researched novels mostly were set in specific geographic regions and significant time periods. Over his life he donated about 100 million dollars of his earnings to charities and willed his entire 10-million-dollar estate, plus all copyrights to his works, to Swarthmore College.

TITLE:   SOUTH PACIFIC

"They've got to be carefully taught."  

A film version of the hit Broadway play adapted from the James Michener WWII novel. An Army nurse (Mitzi Gaynor) faces a moral and emotional dilemma when she falls in love with a French plantation owner (Rossano Brazzi) on the tropical island where she is assigned to a large American military base. The problem is he was married to a Polynesian woman, who has died, and has two mixed-blood children. Her Arkansas roots make inter-racial marriage unacceptable. A Marine officer (John Kerr) has the same problem dealing with his love for a Polynesian girl (France Nuyen) who will never be accepted by his socially prominent Philadelphia family. The song about how racial prejudice must be "carefully taught" in childhood was highly controversial at the time and some movie houses in the South refused to show the film.

                                   

1958, Directed by Joshua Logan

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