The title screen reads, "Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific." As opposed to what, Bram Stoker's South Pacific? There's a plane flying over an ocean towards an island. With different music it could be the Miami Vice opening sequence.
"Quite a sight," says the pilot of the plane to Harry Connick Jr., who manages to pull off wearing that lieutenant's hat without it seeming all would-you-like-fries-with-that and silly. He makes small talk with the pilot. Something about him seeing lots of action in Guadalcanal. Pilot guy says on the island they're sitting around and waiting for their turn to come. Next we see the head nurse welcoming a bunch of young nurses to "the Waldorf-Astoria branch of the Navy Nurse Corps." Then out of nowhere, this oddly wizened-looking Boy Scout steps in and starts talking to the nurses. Oh wait, I guess it's Glenn Close. She's playing Nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush. As a Boy Scout. Really.
Harry Connick Jr. gets off the plane. I guess he's playing Joe Cable. And then he gets approached by Luther Billis, a.k.a. that guy from Murphy Brown, who has all the tattoos and is all scruffy and stuff. He's kind of annoying. I hope they vote him off the island tonight.
Anyway, he seems like he'd be the guy who scores drugs for everyone, except there are never any drugs in musicals. He says he can get a "samurai sword" and some "grass skirts." Huh? What the hell are people into on this island?
Why, they're into singing, that's what! As soon as Billis starts complaining to Harry Connick Jr. that all the women on the island are off limits, The Cargo Forklift of Musical Spontaneity comes by, and Billis jumps on and starts singing. Then everyone else nearby starts doing that weird Purposefully Passing By While Singing Thing. One singing forklift driver drives in such a way as to not quite interfere with the driving nor the singing trajectory of the other forklift driver, who is subsequently careful to yield to the singing guy on a bicycle. Harry Connick Jr. looks around like he's thinking, "Hey! They're singing! What a coincidence! It just so happens that I'm Harry Connick Jr.!" Anyway, what these guys are saying, in effect, is that they've got sunlight on the beach and moonlight on the sea, and mangoes and bananas they can pick right off the tree, and they've got volleyball and ping-pong and a lot of dandy games, but as for what they ain't got -- well, they ain't got dames.
Men wearing nothing but towels insist there is nothing like a dame. Sweaty shirtless men doing their morning drills say there is nothing like a dame. Men out walking around in their undershirts assert there is nothing like a dame. The only other time I ever saw this number was when a bunch of tenth-grade boys sang it in our high-school production, and I have to say that somehow this movie version is more impressive. But while they say there's nothing like a dame, I kind of think some of these guys, by the looks of them, might have found something, if you know what I mean.
Scene II, or whatever: a party at the officer's club, which has a swell tiki aesthetic going. Harry Connick Jr. is talking about the war with Commander Something-or-Other, a French plantation guy, and another guy -- well, we'll call him A Stranger. Enter Glenn Close. Introductions are made. The French plantation guy's name seems to be something like "Monsieur Ben-Wa" and the Stranger is named Emile de Becque. All the men act like they're captivated by Glenn Close's Little Dutch Boy look. Then the Commander guy dances with her and hits on her, and she reminds him that he has a wife and kids, and then across a crowded room she sees de Becque, and somehow, she knows, she knows even then, that somewhere she'll see him, again and again.