September 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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South Pacific  (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
(with eight bonus tracks)
  Available on Naxos 8.120785
Running Time: 74.06
Crotchet   Amazon UK

south pacific

South Pacific opened on Broadway on 7th April 1949 and ran for 1925 performances. It was set in the World War II Pacific theatre and adapted from James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. It was about American sailors and soldiers fighting, loving and dying. This album, despite its rather boxed sound, proves just how superior the original stage version was to the 1958 film that employed some extraordinary, intrusive colour techniques and starred a particularly wooden cast: Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr France Nuyen and Juanita Hall (only Gaynor's and Nuyen's voices were not dubbed).

In the Broadway production, Mary Martin was a more mature, characterful Nellie (spelt Nelly on the back sleeve and Nellie in Richard Ouzounian's notes) Forbush, witty, street-wise but nonetheless willing to take a chance on romance. Listen to her cheerful 'A Cockeyed Optimist', then her sardonic 'I'm Gonna to Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair', and, in more sentimental mood, musing in 'Twin Soliloquies' how it would be to love her older French admirer, Emile de Becque. Ezio Pinza in this role brings colour and great expressiveness in his singing (such an individual, unmistakable voice) especially in the hit of the show, 'Some Enchanted Evening' and the lovely 'This Nearly Was Mine'. William Tabbert made a handsome and heroic Lt. Joe Cable and his hit number 'Younger than Springtime' is ardent enough if a little breathless.

Other unforgettable hits include the men's choruses, one addressed to 'Bloody Mary' and the other concerning the sex-starved sailors' dreaming 'There is Nothin' Like A Dame'.

This album has eight bonus tracks that include Mary Martin's youthful-sounding understudy Sandra Deel's rendering of 'A Cockeyed Optimist', Ezio Pinza singing Bloody Mary's song 'Bali Ha'i' and, interestingly, two ballads that were cut from the show: the exotic-sounding rumba, 'The Loneliness of Evening' and the sentimental 'My Girl Back Home' sung by Mary Martin as 'His Girl Back Home'.

A gem of a souvenir of a Broadway production that outshone the subsequent film.

Ian Lace

****(*) 41/2

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