Friday, 10 October 2014

Art of the Cover - Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song: Motion Picture Soundtrack" (1961)

Despite having as much, if not more text than the musical soundtrack, the film soundtrack uses the visual space of the cover much better, placing the fan front and center and tasking it as another tableau upon which the album title (still in fake Chinese font) and Chinatown buildings (more pagodas!) a drawn. Nice use of "Fan Tan Fanny" (aka a photo of Nancy Kwan) on top to add a bit of visual spark.

The back cover includes the same Kwan photo plus stills from the film and a minimum of liner notes.

The Broadway production of FDS was a huge success - one of the bigger, bonafide R&H hits after a couple of failures - and film development began soon after. Casting-wise, several of the key actors from the musical came back, namely Umeki and Hall, but most of the other major principles were replaced.

Playing Wang Ta was now JA heartthrob James Shigeta - who was already a recording artist and successful actor - replacing hapa Hawaiian singer Ed Kenney. Jack Soo moved up from understudy to take over as Sammy Fong. Benson Fong stepped in as Wang Ta's father (replacing Keye Luke) and most surprising, to me, Pat Suzuki was replaced by Nancy Kwan. I'm not privy to the details behind that casting choice but while Kwan was undoubtedly the bigger actor draw - she didn't have singing experience and in the film, her voice was dubbed in by B.J. Baker (a white singer).

The film, like the musical, was also a success and has become the most familiar way most Americans have ever become familiar with the musical and its songs.

from  flowerdrum

1. Main Title - Overture 'Flower Drum Song'
2. A Hundred Million Miracles
3. The Other Generation
4. I Enjoy Being A Girl
5. I Am Going To Like It Here
6. Chop Suey
7. Grant Avenue
8. Gliding Through My Memoree / Fan Tan Fanny
9. Love, Look Away
10. Dream Ballet
11. Sunday
12. You Are Beautiful
13. Don't Marry Me
14. Finale: Wedding Procession Wedding Ceremony End Title
15. Love, Look Away

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