I just heard from filmmaker Arthur Dong, who sits on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' National Film Preservation Board, that Flower Drum Song, the classic 1961 film version of Rodgers and Hamerstein's musical, has been selected by the Academy to be placed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
For each title named for the prestigious annual list, the Library of Congress's Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations. Flower Drum Song is now on the list of films to be preserved by the Academy Archive. Here's what Arthur in his nomination:
"Flower Drum Song" 1961: This film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was the first film from a major Hollywood studio that featured an all-Asian cast performed by mostly Asian actors. Up to this point, Hollywood productions often cast white actors in yellowface. It starred two of Hollywood's most prolific and well-known Asian American actors, Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta. For almost 50 years, this film has represented an unparalleled and unprecedented milestone for both the film industry and the Asian American community. During it's first decades of release, it was the first time that many Americans were given a picture of Chinatown beyond the exotic tourist facades. No film since "Flower Drum Song" has had such a major and lasting impact on projecting a three-dimensional portrait of Asia America. The film garnered five Oscar nominations, and was choreographer Hermes Pans last production (I think). The film is currently on the list for preservation at the Academy Archive.Despite its flaws, I really get a kick out of this film. It's just this great piece of classic guilty pleasure musical, and a milestone for Asian American cinema. It's great to see it make the registry. The 25 films that made this year's National Film Registry, include The Killers, Deliverance and The Terminator(?!): 'The Terminator,' 'Deliverance' Chosen for National Film Registry. View the full list here.