MURDER IN PARADISE
Which of Joshua Logan’s bummers is the worst—Mister Roberts, Bus Stop, South Pacific, Camelot or Paint Your Wagon? Probably South Pacific, because while it was a smash on Broadway with Mary Martin, it’s the equivalent of Bikini island on screen. Rosanno Brazzi, never having any trouble playing what Ed Margulies and Stephen Rebello call a “Euro-smoothie,” has the misfortune of never having been cast opposite an American woman equal to his sleazy suave hots. But to put him with Mitzi Gaynor and expect us to believe that he wouldn’t turn into a misogynist in paradise is the movie’s sickest joke. Would have been helpful for him to have learned from Stewart Granger how to wear Safari jackets, and considering the banquet of crotch food, he might have toned up a bit or at least asked the costumer to tighten his short sleeves. Just about the entire cast seems unintentionally designed to murder musicals. Imagine paying roadshow prices to get nauseated by insufferabe Gaynor, John Kerr (whose fate has zero impact), Juanita Hall and Ray Walston in coconut bra. It gets worse: not only has the score been demolished by hideously inept staging, Logan and cinematographer Leon Shamroy came up with the “beauty enhancing” idea of color-tinting their TODD AO Pacific heaven. In not one sequence are the effects anything less than hellish. (When Brazzi is mouthing “Some Enchanted Evening,” the dust-bowl tunnel vision suggests the encroachment of L.A. smog.) Oscar for best sound; nominations for color photography, scoring of musical picture. Winner of the Harvard Lampoon’s Worst Movie of 1958. Original running time: 171 minutes. (The 2001 Glenn Close TV version is better acted, with the exception of Lori Tan Chinn as “Bloody Mary,” and, I think, better sung. Close knows how to deliver show tunes and seductive Rade Sherbedgia spares us the Giorgio Tozzi scaling of “Some Enchanted Evening.” Harry Connick Jr. is no actor, and he has an uncanny resemblance to John Kerr, but all’s forgiven when he croons ala Frankie. A more recent Broadway version, aired by PBS, is commented on here.)
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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER (Revised 8/2015) All Rights Reserved.