The music! The scenery! The weird colored camera filters! The film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific" tells the story of true love's triumph over outdated prejudices amid the dangers of war, and the songs are timeless. Test your knowledge of the movie now!
Although he is being assigned to a Naval base, Joe is a Marine. That's why Captain Brackett, upon meeting Joe for the first time, asks why he has been assigned there.
Mary is a beloved character at the base, bringing local culture and native trinkets for sale. The guys call her Bloody Mary and even sing a song to her by that title.
As they are approaching the naval base, Joe seems skeptical about the number of islands controlled by the Japanese, but he gets the picture when they come under fire as the plane descends. Maybe this is how pilot Buzz Adams earned his nickname.
Luther Billis is most anxious to get to the mysterious island of Bali Hai, but one thing stands in his way. Only officers are allowed to sign out boats and he is an enlisted man. When Joe arrives, he sees an opportunity.
Not only is the island filled with native women, but most of the local planters sent their daughters to Bali Hai when the U.S. military is in the area. Luther wants to experience the local culture he has heard about, but like most of the guys, he is mostly interested in the women.
Mary tells Joe that Bali Hai means "your special island," adding that she is certain it is special for him, in particular.
Ensign Nellie Forbush is a nurse assigned to the naval base hospital. She helps care for the guys on the base when they are sick or injured.
Nellie tells Emile that even though they are in a dangerous area and in the middle of a war, she refuses to be gloomy and pessimistic. The song Cockeyed Optimist expands on her feelings.
Nellie is from Little Rock, Arkansas, a far different world from the South Pacific island where she is now stationed. She became a nurse and joined the Navy to see more of the world and meet people who are different from those in the small-town life she has known.
Nellie and Emile have only been seeing each other for two weeks when he asks her to marry him. Although both agree that it is a short time, they feel they know what is in their hearts.
Emile confesses to Nellie that he was forced to leave France because he killed a man in his hometown. When he explains the circumstances, she says the information doesn't bother her because she knows he is a good man.
Emile and Nellie met at a function at the base Officer's Club. They were attracted to each other immediately and began seeing each other.
Joe and Emile are asked to undertake a dangerous "coast watch" mission to further the war effort. The job is to hide in the mountains on a nearby island where they can see the area below and report on the movement of enemy ships.
Emile is not unsympathetic to the Navy's cause, but he has just found happiness with Nellie. He does not want to take a chance on losing the future they are planning.
From the moment she meets Joe, Mary is determined that he should marry her daughter, Liat. Her instincts are good, because they fall in love immediately.
Liat takes Joe to a secluded lagoon where they enjoy swimming together. Her mother comes along and sings the classic song "Happy Talk."
There are lots of rumors about the mysterious planter, and the captain wants to know more about him before asking him to join a spy mission. Who better to ask than Nellie, since it is known that the two have been dating.
"Some Enchanted Evening" is perhaps the most famous song in South Pacific. Emile sings this romantic ballad to Nellie when they share an evening together at his plantation as he tells her he wants a future with her.
Mary tells Joe that since the war started, she has made lots of money by selling her trinkets to the guys on the base. She promises to continue working and earning money so Joe and Liat can spend all their time enjoying themselves.
Part of Nellie's role on the base is helping plan and implement entertainment for the troops. Although she is distraught over the state of her relationship with Emile, she goes ahead with the base's Thanksgiving show, much to the delight of her audience.
In one of the film's most memorable songs, Nellie vows to "wash that man right out of my hair and send him on his way." Some of her fellow nurses join her and encourage her decision.
The planters on the island have come from other parts of the world and it is rumored that they are running from something. In Emile's case, at least, this proves to be true.
Emile hopes to accomplish two things with his gathering. He wants Nellie and his friends to meet each other, but his larger goal is to let her see what her life would be like if she marries him and stays with him on the island.
When Emile explains to Nellie the reason he left France, he tells her the man he killed was a bully and the people in his town were glad Emile killed him. He brings up the topic again in a conversation with Captain Brackett, saying there is nothing worse than a bully.
After reading a letter from home, Nellie tells Joe that her mother doesn't understand or like anyone who is different. This frustrates her, because Nellie has come halfway around the world hoping to meet people unlike those she grew up with.
The highlight of the show is the musical number "Honey Bun." While Nellie sings the song, Luther parades around the stage in a wig, grass skirt and coconut bra.
Nellie is not bothered by the fact that Emile has two very young children, or that he was married before. Because of the way she was raised, she is upset that his late wife was not white, but rather a native of the island, and she decides that she cannot overcome that.
Marie Louise Island is chosen because it overlooks the "bottleneck," or a channel through which Japanese naval vessels often pass. Because he used to have a plantation on the island and knows it well, Emile is asked to join Joe in the mission.
Since his initial reason for refusing the mission no longer exists, Emile agrees to participate. This means the mission, which was about to be scrapped, can go forward.
Since Nellie has broken off contact with Emile, she does not know he has embarked on a dangerous mission for the Navy. When she hears talk among patients about "the Frenchman" and the valuable information he is sending, she asks Captain Brackett if they are talking about Emile and he confirms it.
Although they realize it is wrong, both Nellie and Joe learn that they hold deep-seated prejudices that they did not realize existed. Although Joe loves Liat, he cannot bring himself to marry her because she is Polynesian, and Nellie has the same feelings about Emile having been married to a Polynesian woman.
Luther's presence on the plane becomes known when the Japanese blow a hole in the section where he is hiding. He falls out of the hole, but parachutes safely to the water and creates a diversion that ends up helping the plane land safely.
After providing a great deal of information on enemy movement, Joe and Emile must move quickly because the Japanese are zeroing in on their location. Later Emile transmits a sad message to the base, letting them know that Joe did not survive.
"Younger Than Springtime" is the song Joe sings to Liat when he first meets her on Bali Hai. The song comes up several more times during the film to denote the love they feel for one another.
Not knowing whether he is dead or alive, and realizing that her love for Emile outweighs her prejudices, Nellie goes to his home and cares for his children while he is away. She serves them lunch, but they refuse to eat until she sings the French song their father sings with them.