Movie Night

Our editors give two thumbs up for 10 great beach films.

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South Pacific (1958)

South Pacific (1958)

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical set on a tropical beach in World War II seems dated enough these days to be classified as high camp. Still, while I smile at the burst-into-song moments and cringe at the corny script, I remember what it felt like to be a young girl viewing this big-screen extravaganza. Filmed on the island of Kauai, South Pacific was an introduction to the intoxicating beauty of Hawaii, and it nourished the seeds of wanderlust sprouting in my small-Virginia-town heart. I swooned over Lt. Joe Cable (played by John Kerr) and hoped he would stay with Liat (France Nuyen), a Polynesian girl living on a shimmering isle called Bali Ha'i. I longed to look like blonde nurse/ensign Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor) and thought she was crazy to run from Frenchman Emile de Becque (Rossano Brazzi) because of his Eurasian children. Those two love stories gave a courageous nod to the idiocy of racism about the time the Civil Rights movement had the entire country taking sides in a battle for common sense. Having seen the film seven times during its early years, to this day I can sing the lyrics to every song―from "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" to "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair." Whenever I pop in the remastered DVD, intermission music and all, I know I'll have "Some Enchanted Evening"―and so will you. ―Susan Haynes

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