"Broadway Comes to Broadway" was a series of nine roadshow musicals (plus "Cabaret"), most of them shown in 70mm. Both "South Pacific" and "Oklahoma!" were screened in Todd-AO, the latter particularly gorgeous in that format. But the version of "South Pacific" that Ralph secured was the real find of the series. He told me that the print was acquired from the people overseeing the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate. ("South Pacific" was made independently by the Magna Theater Corporation, which developed Todd-AO, and then distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox.)
The film that Ralph screened ran 171 minutes, which was its running time for a few weeks in 1958 before the powers elected to trim it down to 157 minutes (following less than enthusiastic reviews). The 14 minutes eliminated from the film consist mostly of trimmed dialogue here and there and much of it reduced Ray Walston's Luther Billis character.
The 171-minute and 157-minute versions of "South Pacific" are both included on the DVD and BluRay discs, but the longer cut on home entertainment has the usual/familiar order of sequences.
The souvenir program for "South Pacific," which is rather creative and arty for a movie program (designed, no less, than by legendary production designers Dale Hennesy and John De Cuir), includes a section called "the continuity...," which is the film from the point of view of its editor Bob Simpson - and, again, the opening follows the contours of the play.
If I had to guess, I would say that Logan's decision to change the chronology of the early musical numbers prior to the film's opening was made strictly for commercial reasons. It's more audience-friendly to open the film with something rousing like "Bloody Mary" than with the moody and introspective "Some Enchanted Evening." Just a hunch.
Script City, that corroborates the continuity detailed in the film's program and the movie that I saw that day at the RKO Cinerama.
Regarding that song, the version of it performed by Mitzi Gaynor was trimmed - truncated actually - way before the film's release, with the entire middle (sung by a chorus of nurese) eliminated. Rumor has it that Rodgers and Hammerstein wanted the song cut from the film altogether. From their perspective, while it was a big moment in the play - i.e., the novelty of the leading lady washing her hair on stage every night - it made less sense on film. It was less of a novelty in a movie. Also, it was a popular song - too popular to cut out entirely. So it was merely trimmed.
Note in Passing: Ralph Donnelly passed on September 21st, 2007. He was 75. He's missed.
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-The advertisement for the RKO Cinerama's "Broadway Comes to Broadway" series in 1979
~Rosanno Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in a scene from the film
~Gaynor in the "Twin Soliloquies" number