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Flower Drum Song

Updated on November 20, 2018
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

In today’s politically correct climate and with immigration on the top of our political debate, a film from 1961 has some fabulous music and lyrics. The words and message have great meaning and relevance even today. A new generation of movie goers can appreciated this well done story.

- Oct. 2018

Background

This film from the 1960s has an all Asian cast. Similar to the new hit movie, Crazy Rich Asians, this was a romantic comedy of a different generation. The parallels are uncanny. Moreover, this film had great songs and lyrics by the great team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. This was the same team that created the King and I and the Sound of Music.

It was a simpler time in our history. Before the feminist movement and the #metoo generation, where men were men and women enjoyed a cherished status as the “weaker” sex. Not being too nostalgic, I missed those days. I missed the days when I could open a door for a lady, or pay someone a compliment, or just admire the opposite sex without worrying about being accused of inappropriate behavior.

By any measure, this film and some of the lyrics are not politically correct by today’s standards. We are so sensitive to the subject of women equality, and immigrants and minorities and race relations. Yet, this film has a positive message and the truth of men women relationships going back many enerations. As hard as some groups try, men and women are not equal in the sense that everything is treated the same. They are different in how they think, how they approach to problem solving, and how they act and feel. Not that one sex is superior to another but just they are different and probably by design. Opposites do attract.

Men do need to feel needed, and be the protector, and be the hero that saves the day and be the rock in times of crisis. Women needs to be the nurturer and caring and soft and gentile side to complement men. The ying and yang of nature and the balance of the universe.

My Story...

A broadway musical has great songs that tells the story much better than just dialog. The greatest musical of all times in my opinion “the Sound of Music”, would not be so memorable without the songs like “Climb Ever Mountain” or “My Favorite Things” and ”Do Re Mi” and my favorite somg of “Edelweiss”. These melodies and lyrics capture the essense of the story and made them richer and more relatable.

Flower Drum Song is the first box office success that featured an all Asian cast. In 1961, when I first arrived in the US, this was one of the great movies that year. I did not speak English that well at first. It took about a year to get caught up. Being a Chinese immigrant in Queens NY was unique. There were very few Asians at the time. I remember, there were only 4 families in our small neighborhood. We woud get together on weekends and have means together and the parents would play some Mah Jong while the kids watched TV or play games.

My teachers in our public school were great. They try to engage us to share our oriental culture in terms of art and music. It was sort of exotic for them to learn first hand a new culture from immigrants from this distant land. It made our transition to American life that much easier. We were made to feel welcomed and special in a good way.

The Songs That Told The Story...

Nancy Kwan

Summary

These songs and lyrics are truly timeless. They are true today as they were 60 years ago. It goes to show humans don’t change that much. As much progress we’ve made over the last few decades, we are still the same deep down.

This year, “Crazy Rich Asians“ is the talk of the town. It is a modern version of this similar story of love and tears and laughter and family and tradition.

I recommend both films highly.

© 2018 Jack Lee

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