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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 56 Flower Drum Song

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@Cameron H., you're a real cold cat!

 

Sorry about flaking on Friday, if anyone turned up on Rabbit.  I'm resigning from hosting unless it's my pick.  As for this movie, I'm still working through it so I will refrain.

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I was looking through the musicals available on Amazon Prime and this one caught my eye. I saw the Rodgers & Hammerstein in all caps, but this musical was unfamiliar to me.  Not that I'm a R&H expert, but I think almost everyone is familiar with their hits like Sound of Music, South Pacific, King & I, and Oklahoma.  Plus, Flower Drum Song featured an almost all Asian cast, which I didn't expect for a movie musical from that time period.  Yeah, it's dated , but overall I thought the music was alright, almost kitschy.  Never knew I Enjoy Being a Girl was from this musical. I wish the main leads, Mei Li and Wang Ta, were more interesting - they were both rather bland and I have no idea why or how they fell in love.  Did Wang Ta even have a song?  And what was the point of Helen, other than to throw a wrench into Mei Li and Wang Ta's relationship?  I would've been happy with more Linda, Sammy, and Wang Ta's little brother.

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4 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

I was looking through the musicals available on Amazon Prime and this one caught my eye. I saw the Rodgers & Hammerstein in all caps, but this musical was unfamiliar to me.  Not that I'm a R&H expert, but I think almost everyone is familiar with their hits like Sound of Music, South Pacific, King & I, and Oklahoma.  Plus, Flower Drum Song featured an almost all Asian cast, which I didn't expect for a movie musical from that time period.  Yeah, it's dated , but overall I thought the music was alright, almost kitschy.  Never knew I Enjoy Being a Girl was from this musical. I wish the main leads, Mei Li and Wang Ta, were more interesting - they were both rather bland and I have no idea why or how they fell in love.  Did Wang Ta even have a song?  And what was the point of Helen, other than to throw a wrench into Mei Li and Wang Ta's relationship?  I would've been happy with more Linda, Sammy, and Wang Ta's little brother.

I want to say Wang Ta sang on  “Chop Suey.”

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I somehow missed this being picked for the week. I'm going to watch it when I get home and refamiliarize myself with it. But I have some THOUGHTS on R&H and this musical. Again, want to revisit it before I actually comment.

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2 hours ago, tomspanks said:

I was looking through the musicals available on Amazon Prime and this one caught my eye. I saw the Rodgers & Hammerstein in all caps, but this musical was unfamiliar to me.  Not that I'm a R&H expert, but I think almost everyone is familiar with their hits like Sound of Music, South Pacific, King & I, and Oklahoma.  Plus, Flower Drum Song featured an almost all Asian cast, which I didn't expect for a movie musical from that time period.  Yeah, it's dated , but overall I thought the music was alright, almost kitschy.  Never knew I Enjoy Being a Girl was from this musical. I wish the main leads, Mei Li and Wang Ta, were more interesting - they were both rather bland and I have no idea why or how they fell in love.  Did Wang Ta even have a song?  And what was the point of Helen, other than to throw a wrench into Mei Li and Wang Ta's relationship?  I would've been happy with more Linda, Sammy, and Wang Ta's little brother.

I must agree with pretty much everything here. I did not buy Ta and Mei Li's romance at all. I could buy the romance between him and Linda. I heard Mei Li and Ta saying the words to each other, but I didn't see any emotion between either of them. I also didn't know about the "I Enjoy Being A Girl" song, and I really liked that piece. I also really liked the dance with Helen. 

I'm sure we all could go into a whole diatribe about the gender politics but I'll set that aside for now. However, I was thinking that this movie wasn't too bad on the racism square, and I nearly did a literal pearl clutch in those last five minutes with Mei Li's "inspiration" for how to deal with her betrothal to Sammy. Oh my! 

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3 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

However, I was thinking that this movie wasn't too bad on the racism square

Yea, I joked before I started that I assumed it would be, and it certainly isn't great by any means -- just way too many stereotypes that probably set the course for what people think about Asians for years afterward -- but you're right, it's not particularly racist.  There is some weird 'other'ing of immigrants in there (like they never heard of a bank or whatever; immigrant refugees aren't automatically uncivilized fools).  But still generally I am enjoying the film so far (I'm only halfway through as of yet).  The cast is all so very cool, that's what is standing out to me.

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I also didn't think it was as racist as I was expecting it to be.  Seriously, I was bracing for super racist moments. 

I think the most uncomfortable I felt was when they started doing chop sueeeeeey for one of the songs?  I think System of a Down did it better 😝

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2 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea, I joked before I started that I assumed it would be, and it certainly isn't great by any means -- just way too many stereotypes that probably set the course for what people think about Asians for years afterward -- but you're right, it's not particularly racist.  There is some weird 'other'ing of immigrants in there (like they never heard of a bank or whatever; immigrant refugees aren't automatically uncivilized fools).  But still generally I am enjoying the film so far (I'm only halfway through as of yet).  The cast is all so very cool, that's what is standing out to me.

Yeah. I basically was expecting a pretty dated portrayal of Chinese immigrants, and probably some yellowface in the casting. It exceeded my expectations. But the last five minutes...

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Again no reason to complain but I found it funny that in a movie about Chinese people there was only one fully Chinese main cast member, Benson Fong who played Master Wang Chi. Nancy Kwan is half Chinese, Juanita Hall is African American and the rest of the leads are Japanese.  However, this is an all Asian cast with only a few white background extras in the restaurant scenes and one speaking part for a Caucasian actor who plays a mugger. This is also 1961 a time when John Wayne was Genghis Khan and Mickey Rooney was Mr. Yunioshi. The whole idea of an all Asian cast at that time and the movie isn't super offensive is mind blowing. Honestly good on this movie.

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11 hours ago, tomspanks said:

I was looking through the musicals available on Amazon Prime and this one caught my eye. I saw the Rodgers & Hammerstein in all caps, but this musical was unfamiliar to me.  Not that I'm a R&H expert, but I think almost everyone is familiar with their hits like Sound of Music, South Pacific, King & I, and Oklahoma.  Plus, Flower Drum Song featured an almost all Asian cast, which I didn't expect for a movie musical from that time period.  Yeah, it's dated , but overall I thought the music was alright, almost kitschy.  Never knew I Enjoy Being a Girl was from this musical. I wish the main leads, Mei Li and Wang Ta, were more interesting - they were both rather bland and I have no idea why or how they fell in love.  Did Wang Ta even have a song?  And what was the point of Helen, other than to throw a wrench into Mei Li and Wang Ta's relationship?  I would've been happy with more Linda, Sammy, and Wang Ta's little brother.

Wang Ta danced with Helen and I'm pretty sure he sang briefly but never soloed.

I think you hit the nail on the head my main problem with the movie. I get that Mei Li fell in love at first sight, Linda loved him for his wealth, and Helen had been crushing on him for years. Yet, outside of Linda I don't really see why that is. Wang Ta is handsome, smart, and rich but he is kinda blah character wise. If he was a bit more charming or charismatic I could see why Helen had been waiting for him or why Mei Li instantly feel in love with him. His falling for Mei Li is even more of a head scratcher. He liked her but then to jump to I must be with her, I didn't fully buy it.  

Also Sammy ends up with Linda and Wang Ta ends up with Mei Li but no love for Helen? Poor Helen.

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3 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

Also Sammy ends up with Linda and Wang Ta ends up with Mei Li but no love for Helen? Poor Helen.

I’m not going lie: I was crushing pretty hard on Helen. Ta doesn’t deserve her.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

I’m not going lie: I was crushing pretty hard on Helen. Ta doesn’t deserve her.

Helen sure is a tomato!

It does make me wonder why it never happened sooner. 

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I knew that "wetback" was a slur, but wasn't familiar with the origin of the word, so I started googling shit and came across this article.  It's a bit long, but an interesting read, especially about the political climate of the time.  

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/flower-drum-song-whitewashing-operation-wetback-message-1961/#!

  • R&H had "lifelong interests in issues of social and racial justice, especially regarding ties between the United States and Asia."  For real?
  • Gene Kelly directed the Broadway production of Flower Drum Song
  • Cam Bert mentioned this, but I had no idea that Juanita Hall was an African American actress
  • In 1954, the INS launched “Operation Wetback
  • The original ending of FDS was more confrontational

Re: Helen - I kept waiting for her to pop up at the wedding ceremony at the end!  I can't believe we never get a resolution to her character after Wang Ta leaves her apartment.  Also...did Wang Ta and Helen sleep together or did he only pass out?  I liked her dream dance sequence a lot!  As usual, even in her dream, Wang Ta was the blandest part of the dance.

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7 hours ago, tomspanks said:

I knew that "wetback" was a slur, but wasn't familiar with the origin of the word, so I started googling shit and came across this article.  It's a bit long, but an interesting read, especially about the political climate of the time.  

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/flower-drum-song-whitewashing-operation-wetback-message-1961/#!

  • R&H had "lifelong interests in issues of social and racial justice, especially regarding ties between the United States and Asia."  For real?
  • Gene Kelly directed the Broadway production of Flower Drum Song
  • Cam Bert mentioned this, but I had no idea that Juanita Hall was an African American actress
  • In 1954, the INS launched “Operation Wetback
  • The original ending of FDS was more confrontational

Re: Helen - I kept waiting for her to pop up at the wedding ceremony at the end!  I can't believe we never get a resolution to her character after Wang Ta leaves her apartment.  Also...did Wang Ta and Helen sleep together or did he only pass out?  I liked her dream dance sequence a lot!  As usual, even in her dream, Wang Ta was the blandest part of the dance.

The article ends on the cheerful note "Mei Li and Wang Ta's fate is unknown..." can't we just assume they lived happily ever after? Why cast doubt?

Re: Helen - I assumed he passed out. Her song and dance (her dance the best part of the movie I thought) were more about wanting him and losing him. The dance ends with her finding him and being with him only to be swept away out of his grasp. That doesn't seem like the dance of someone who hooked up with the man they've been pining for.

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33 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

The article ends on the cheerful note "Mei Li and Wang Ta's fate in unknown..." can't we just assume they lived happily ever after? Why cast doubt?

Re: Helen - I assumed he passed out. Her song and dance (her dance the best part of the movie I thought) were more about wanting him and losing him. The dance ends with her finding him and being with him only to be swept away out of his grasp. That doesn't seem like the dance of someone who hooked up with the man they've been pining for.

I liked the little brother's dance even more than Helen's!  

Ok fine, I think I was projecting too much and was hoping she got to knock boots before getting written out of the movie completely.  And would it be better or worse if every romantic rejection ended with your crush pushing you down a slide?  

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6 hours ago, tomspanks said:

 

Ok fine, I think I was projecting too much and was hoping she got to knock boots before getting written out of the movie completely.  And would it be better or worse if every romantic rejection ended with your crush pushing you down a slide?  

Yeah, but sex with Ta would be like eating flavorless ice cream. She’s better off without him. Besides, like Paul Simon in Kodachrome, having sex with Ta would never match her sweet imagination. 

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15 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Yeah, but sex with Ta would be like eating flavorless ice cream. She’s better off without him. Besides, like Paul Simon in Kodachrome, having sex with Ta would never match her sweet imagination. 

Second that statement.

Okay maybe we don't want to go down this road but it is also safe to assume him and Linda were not sleeping together either right?

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19 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Yeah, but sex with Ta would be like eating flavorless ice cream. She’s better off without him. Besides, like Paul Simon in Kodachrome, having sex with Ta would never match her sweet imagination. 

Thanks for ruining flavorless ice cream for me 

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22 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Thanks for ruining flavorless ice cream for me 

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4 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

Second that statement.

Okay maybe we don't want to go down this road but it is also safe to assume him and Linda were not sleeping together either right?

I’m not sure! He did pin her

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5 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

I’m not sure! He did pin her

He did but that was their first "date." When he phones he said they were on a double date together but him with the wrong girl and her with the wrong guy. Which means there is yet another woman who wants the plain cream ice cream known as Wang Ta. What is it we are not seeing about this guy?

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Maybe everyone had sex with Ta but no one remembers because it was so goddamn boring?

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

Maybe everyone had sex with Ta but no one remembers because it was so goddamn boring?

And that's why she had that dream sequence of letting him go?  Because he sucked in bed?

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