Flower Drum Song

(1961, 133 mins, DVD)
CAST Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong, Jack Soo, Juanita Hall, Reiko Sato
Classification:

This film of the 1958 Broadway musical by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein was groundbreaking for its use of a predominantly Asian-American cast, and for treating Chinese-Americans as Americans.

Newly arrived in San Francisco’s Chinatown is Mei Li, a "picture bride" from Hong Kong who has been chosen to be the wife of Sammy Fong, a nightclub owner. Sammy, however, is opposed to Old World marriage traditions and wants to select as his wife Linda Low, a singer and exotic dancer in his night spot. Consequently, he tries to unload Mei Li on the wealthy Wang family, who are seeking a bride for their eldest son, Wang Ta. But Ta has also been dating the wily Linda, unaware that she is merely interested in his money. At a party celebrating Ta’s graduation from college and Auntie’s graduation from citizenship school, the betrothal of Linda and Ta is suddenly announced, leaving Mei Li heartbroken and Sammy enraged. The latter soon has his revenge when he invites the Wangs to celebrate the Chinese New Year at his club. They abruptly call off their son’s engagement when they see Linda do a spicy striptease dance. Although Ta realizes his mistake and admits his love for Mei Li, she rejects him and forces Sammy to fulfill his contractual obligations. But in the middle of the wedding ceremony, Mei Li confesses that she entered the country illegally, thereby invalidating the marriage contract. Ta happily volunteers to marry her, and Linda and Sammy decide to make it a double wedding. Songs : "You Are Beautiful" (Ta); "A Hundred Million Miracles" (Mei Li, Dr. Li & Chorus); "I Enjoy Being a Girl" (Linda); "I Am Going To Like It Here" (Mei Li); "Chop Suey" (Auntie, Ta, San & Chorus); "Don’t Marry Me" (Sammy & Mei Li); "Grant Avenue" (Linda & Chorus); "Love, Look Away" (Helen); "Fan Tan Fanny" (Linda & Chorus); "Gliding Through My Memoree" (Frankie, Linda & Show Girls); "The Other Generation" (Wang, Auntie, San & San’s girlfriends); "Sunday" (Sammy & Linda).

"There’s nothing subtle or fragile about this "Flower Drum Song." It is gaudy and gaggy and quite melodic. Along those lines, it is quite a show." Bosley Crowther, New York Times (1961)