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France Nuyen's introduction to "South Pacific"
May 13, 2006 at the Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Transcription created March 2023. Date: 02.06.2023
France Nuyen and guest at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, USA May 13, 2006. Picture by Paul Rayton

Jeff Joseph, Moderator: Welcome to the Egyptian theatre and tonight we've got "South Pacific" in 70 millimeter. "South Pacific" was shot in 24 frames per second, 65 millimeter Todd-AO. The print we're running tonight is a brand new print struck by Schawn Belston, at 20th Century Fox, from the original camera negative of the standard release version of the film. It does have an intermission.

We have a special guest tonight, one of the stars of
"South Pacific", Miss France Nuyen [Applause].

France Nuyen: Thank you. I guess you were expecting somebody with long dark hair [laughter].

Well, I really thank you for coming out to see a 50 year old film. I am a little bit relieved because the last time that I saw the film was in San Pedro and it had been pieced together from several film [prints] that they could find all over the country and it looked like somebody had taken a shotgun and ... just, you know ... went through it. It looked like it was raining, and it was all pink and it was very depressing for me.

I would like to tell you a little bit of how I got the film. I was then 17 years old, and very, very, very innocent. I was working in a French bakery in New York on 9th Ave. between 78 and 79th St. and I wanted to become a model and of course that didn't quite work out for me. You know being Asian and the short little girl that I was.

And one day, the agency for the modeling [company] called me and said

"We want to introduce you to a producer and a director".

And so they came and picked me up in a limousine, which I had never set foot in before. They took me to Madison Ave., to a very, very tall building, with the longest, fastest elevator, which I had never also never been in before. I emerged somewhere on the 40th or 50th floor in an office which was no less than the office of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II on Madison Ave.

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France Nuyen and guest at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, USA May 13, 2006. Picture by Paul Rayton

Of course, I had no idea who were those giants? They were just nice old people [audience amused] and then Joshua Logan - thank God he spoke French, because I spoke no English. I remember he asked me:

"Mademoiselle, would you get up and and take off your shoes?"

And I had to run around their desk ... back and forth. They made me run a good five minutes, then smile and turn my face this way and that way. I walked out with a seven year contract with 20th Century Fox [applause]

-, which eventually turned into 10 years because the three years that they lent me to David Merrick to do "The World of Suzie Wong" on Broadway was taken out of my contract and put at the end.

And while everybody in "South Pacific" ...., for example, I was making less money than the electrician. So I like to think that I have seen the best of Hollywood and the best of our business. And I was at the "tail end" of what we call the stables, which means that people under contract that were used by the studio and lent out to other studios.

This film is very special to me, first of all because Joshua Logan pulled me out of my life that I had, and he taught me everything I know. His wife was equally as gentle and nice to me as well. And I learned how kind people were. Leon Shamroy, of whom you will admire the extraordinary photography, used to scare me because he wore very ... it's almost like the the baggy shorts that the kids wear today. They look like they borrowed them from somebody, and Leon had very skinny legs, a little pot belly, and he smoked large cigar and wore a baseball cap backwards. He was always looking through that glass looking at me. Every time I went by, he would go "Grrrrr...wouwww!", and I would run and scream and I thought he hated me. It took me nearly 35 years to understand that he absolutely adored me. And you will see how wonderful he photographed me and I was very, very lucky.

So thank you for coming and joining us [applause].

Miss France Nuyen as she appeared in 1957 during production of "South Pacific" in Todd-AO. Publicity still, 20th Century Fox, 1958. Editors' collection


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France Nuyen's introduction to "South Pacific"
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Updated 21-01-24