Flower Drum Song (1961)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The only Rodgers and Hammerstein cinemadaptation to be produced by Universal Pictures, Flower Drum Song was, alas, also the only Rogers and Hammerstein film to lose money at the box office. It looks far better now than it did back in 1961, if only because of the paucity of musical films in the 1990s. Essentially a comedy about the culture clash between old-world Chinese and assimilated Chinese-Americans, the film begins when Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki) and her grandfather (Kam Tong) smuggle themselves into San Francisco. It seems that Mei Li has arrived to honor an arranged marriage between herself and Runyonesque nightclub owner Sammy Fong (the incomparable Jack Soo). This might prove delicate, since Sammy is in love with flashy cabaret entertainer Linda Low (Nancy Kwan). Meanwhile, Linda is romancing Wang Ta (James Shigeta), the son of a wealthy Chinatown merchant (Benson Fong). Soon, however, Mei Li and Wang Ta have fallen in love.......It's a complex plot, to be sure, but comedy and music manage to predominate. The songs include "I Enjoy Being a Girl" (a tour de force for the special effects department, and for Nancy Kwan), "A Hundred Million Miracles," "The Other Generation," "Love Look Away," "I Am Going to Like It Here," "Don't Marry Me," "You Are Beautiful," "Grant Avenue" and "Chop Suey." Flower Drum Song is attractively produced and consummately acted; while no classic along the lines of King and I or Sound of Music, it deserves a second look.
Classics , Comedy , Musical & Performing Arts , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


Nancy Kwan
as Linda Low
James Shigeta
as Wang Ta
Miyoshi Umeki
as Mei Li
Juanita Hall
as Auntie/Madame Liang
Jack Soo
as Sammy Fong
Benson Fong
as Wang Chi-Yang
Reiko Sato
as Helen Chao
Patrick Adiarte
as Wang San
Kam Tong
as Dr. Li
Victor Sen Yung
as Frankie Wing
Soo Yong
as Madame Fong
Ching Wah Lee
as Professor
James Hong
as Headwaiter
Spencer Chan
as Dr. Chon
Arthur Song
as Dr. Fong
Weaver Levy
as Policeman
Herman Rudin
as Holdup Man
Cherylene Lee
as San's Girl Friend
Virginia Lee
as San's Girl Friend
Virginia Grey
as TV Heroine
Paul Sorenson
as TV Sheriff
Ward Ramsey
as Great White Hunter
Laurette Luez
as Mexican Girl
Robert Kino
as Bank Manager
W. Beal Wong
as Tailor
Jon Fong
as Square Dance Caller
Willard Lee
as Tradesman
Frank Kumagai
as Tradesman
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Critic Reviews for Flower Drum Song

All Critics (4)

Though not one of Oscar and Hammerstein best works, this Oscar-nominated musical about culture clash merits a viewing.

Full Review… | April 19, 2012

Lesser of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals has some good songs, performances.

July 13, 2007

Somehow, they wreck Rogers and Hammerstein, although R&H didn't do all that well with the original musical.

December 20, 2004
Greenwich Village Gazette

Enjoyable, old-fashioned stage-to-screen musical.

May 23, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Flower Drum Song

Plenty of great songs. My favorite is probably "Love Look Away," and it's tough to beat the appeal of a young Nancy Kwan in her absolute prime. Amazing to see Miyoshi Umeki in a romantic lead as well. I will miss her.

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

One thing I will say about this film is the music was great. Not surprising it's a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical but I didn't particularly like the story. The Flower Drum Song is one of the lesser known musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. The only other upside to the movie was James Shigeta, he was yummy to look at. My impression of the movie is that it would've been better to have stayed as a play. www.what-to-watch.com

Laura Rachel
Laura Rachel

So, I found a Rogers & Hammerstein musical I hadn't seen...now I know why...just an ok musical. The story was good...a Chinese woman and her father come to San Francisco to marry her off, by the traditionally "arranged marriage" way. Mioshi Umeki, who was the first Asian to win an Oscar (for Sayonara) but I remember her mostly as Mrs. Livingston on The Courtship of Eddie's Father series, was so cute and perfect as the little Chinese woman. I love musicals and I thought most of the musical numbers kinda sucked...that's what made this just ok for me...but it did have other aspects that kept my interest.

Robin P.
Robin P.

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