Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Screenplay: Paul Osborn
(based on book, "Tales of the South Pacific," by James Michener)
Director: Joshua Logan
Choreographer: LeRoy Prinz (Boar Tooth Ceremonial number)
"South Pacific" tells the story of Americans based on a South Pacific island during WW II and the native people with whom they interact. It centers on two love stories: the story of Nellie Forbush, a young naive nurse from Arkansas, and Emile deBecque, an older Frenchman who has had a life full of varied experiences, and the story of Lt. Joe Cable from Philadelphia and the young and beautiful Liat, a Tonkenese girl with whom he falls in love. Among the backdrop of WW II fighting and danger, Joe and Nellie must come to grips with their inbred feelings of prejudice and their love for people from different worlds.
It is WW II and American naval troops are stationed on a South Pacific island. Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor) is an American naval nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, who has been assigned to the island. She meets Emile deBecque (Rossano Brazzi), a rich, older man, and they fall in love. Emile tells Nellie about his past and that, as a youth, he killed a man in France. Emile, however, does not tell Nellie everything about his past - he fails to mention that he was married to a Tonkenese woman, now deceased, and that he had two children with her.
Lt. Joe Cable (John Kerr) is sent to the island for a dangerous, secret mission that might involve Emile deBecque. At first, Emile refuses to help the US government because he is afraid that endangering his life by going on the mission with Joe will harm his relationship with Nellie. However, when Nellie finds out about Emile's two half-Tonkenese children, her prejudices emerge and she breaks off her relationship with Emile. He then volunteers for the mission.
While awaiting Emile's answer, Joe meets and falls in love with the daughter, Liat, of Bloody Mary, a Tonkenese native of the nearby island of Bali Ha'i. Like Nellie, Joe's prejudices prevent him from marrying Liat.
Joe and Nellie both try to come to grips with their prejudices and, before leaving on his spying mission on another island, Joe tells Nellie that if he returns, he will marry Liat. Nellie doesn't know about Emile's decision to join Joe, but when she hears that he is involved and his life is in danger, she, too, overcomes her prejudices and goes to Emile's house to take care of his young children until he returns.
Joe, unfortunately, dies and leaves Liat with a broken heart. Emile, however, does survive and he returns home to find Nellie waiting for him.