Flower Drum Song

Year: 1961

Studio: Universal Pictures & Ross Hunter Productions

Screenplay: Joseph Fields
(based on the novel by C. Y. Lee and the book of the Broadway play)

Director: Henry Koster

Choreographer: Hermes Pan


Brief Synopsis:

The "Flower Drum Song" is about the generational gaps in families of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco in the 1950s. Mei Lei comes to America with her father for an arranged marriage with Sammy Fong. But Sammy loves Linda Low, a singer-dancer in his nightclub so he changes the arrangements so that Mei Lei can marry a young university student from a traditional family. This does not initially work out, however, because the student thinks he is in love with Linda Low. In the end, the couples are matched correctly, and the parents have to accept the younger generation's desires to marry for love.

Detailed Synopsis:

Mei Li (Myoshi Umeki) and her father come illegally to San Francisco from China so that Mei Li can marry Sammy Fong (Jack Soo), in an arrangement made between Sammy's mother and Mei Li's father. Sammy, however, is in love with Linda Low (Nancy Kwan), a dancer in his nightclub. But Sammy knows a young man, Wang Ta (James Shigeta), from a traditional Chinese family and he arranges a marriage between Mei Li and Wang Ta.

Mei Li and Wang Ta meet and are attracted to each other but Wang Ta, like Sammy, is in love with Linda Low, or at least he thinks he is. Linda loves Sammy and wants him to marry her so, to make him jealous, she convinces Wang Ta to marry her. This angers Sammy who arranges for Wang Ta and his father to see Linda doing a provocative dance in his nightclub.

Wang Ta, shocked and disillusioned by Linda's behavior, gets drunk and takes comfort for a night in the apartment of a female friend of his. Mei Li, who by this time loves Wang Ta, discovers that he spent the night in another woman's apartment and, not knowing that nothing happened between Wang Ta and his friend, refuses to marry him.

Mei Li's father decides that Sammy must now honor the marriage agreement between him and Mei Li. But Sammy wants to marry Linda and Mei Li and Wang Ta clear up their differences and they want to marry.

At Mei Li and Sammy's wedding, Mei Li reveals that she and her father came to America illegally and Sammy's mother stops the wedding. Wang Ta agrees to marry Mei Li even though she could be deported and Sammy marries Linda.