Directed by Henry Koster • 1961 • United States
Starring Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong
Introduction: This film has been programmed as part of the series Hollywood Chinese, a survey curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong on the history of Chinese representation in American cinema. For further context, we recommend watching his series introduction and his documentary HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, now playing on the Channel.
This landmark musical was the first—and, even for decades after, only—major Hollywood feature to showcase a majority Asian American cast. Based on the Broadway hit by Rodgers and Hammerstein adapted from C. Y. Lee’s novel, FLOWER DRUM SONG brings together the powerhouse talents of Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Miyoshi Umeki, and Jack Soo in a breezy story of romance, marriage, and generational and cultural clash set against the colorful backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Among the showstopping musical highlights is Kwan’s vivacious rendition of “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”