The year is 1943. The place is the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. The US armed forces want to set up a naval base in readiness for the invasion of New Guinea which is held by the Japanese.
For this, they need the help of French plantation owner Emile de Becque (Rossano Brazzi).
Nurse Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor, pictured) and Becque have become very close, but she refuses to marry him because he has children by a Polynesian woman (now dead).
Lt. Joseph Cable (John Kerr) of the Marine Corps is also on the islands on a dangerous mission. He has met and fallen for a Polynesian girl, Liat (France Nuyen) but he has difficulty proposing because of her ethnic background.
Lots of difficult decisions must be made in this war-torn time.
Joshua Logan cast a wide net when looking for Nellie: Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Doris Day were all considered – but Mitzi Gaynor did the best screen test.
Director of Photography Leon Shamroy was Oscar-nominated for the general excellence of his work and also for a system of coloured camera filters that he devised, whereby various scenes could be tinted in the colours that portrayed specific feelings.
The songs include Some Enchanted Evening, Younger Than Springtime, There Is Nothing Like A Dame and Bali Hai.
Emile de Becque
Giorgio Tozzi (singing voice)
Nurse Nellie Forbush
Lt. Joseph Cable, USMC
Lt. Buzz Adams