Hundreds of films and television shows have been made in Hawaii beginning with the 1923 Paramount Pictures release "The White Flower." The last forty years have seen Hawaii become a major locale for many major motion pictures set in Hawaii, the South Pacific and elsewhere in the world. These are our favorite films made in Hawaii but set in the South Pacific.
John Ford's comedy-drama set aboard an insignificant ship stationed in the Pacific during World War II was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Jack Lemmon won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Ensign Pulver. The film also stars Henry Fonda in the title role and James Cagney as Captain Morton.
The motion picture adaptation of Roger and Hammerstein's musical "South Pacific" was filmed on the island of Kauai using often peculiar color filters which distract from the beauty of the islands. The film has an all-star cast featuring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in the lead roles. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, but won only for Best Sound.
3. Bird of Paradise - 1951
Delmer Daves' remake of the 1932 film of the same name stars Debra Paget as an island princess who falls in love with a visiting Frenchman (played by Louis Jourdan) against the wishes of her people. The motion picture was beautifully filmed on the island of Kauai in Technicolor and features a score filled with native songs and chants. Still not available on DVD.
Richard Murphy directed this comedy set during World War II aboard a sailing ship designed to look like a native trading craft. The crew and it's captain (played by Jack Lemmon) are sent on a secret mission in waters patrolled by the Japanese. The film was based on a true story of a mission ordered by Army General Douglas MacArthur. The motion picture was filmed on the islands of Kauai and Oahu.
This least well known of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies is a sweet romantic comedy featuring the two premier actors of our time in this genre. John Shanley's film tells the tale of a hypochondriac who, when told that he is dying, accepts an offer to throw himself into the volcano of a remote tropical island. En route, however, he learns that there are many reasons to keep on living.
Ivan Reitman's adventure-comedy about a New York magazine editor and the gruff pilot who are forced to put aside their dislike for each other in order to survive after crash landing on a deserted South Seas island stars the unlikely duo of Harrison Ford and Anne Heche. The film was released shortly after Anne Heche's announcement of her longtime relationship with Ellen DeGeneres.
Frank Sinatra directed and starred in this story of American and Japanese soldiers who, when stranded on a tiny Pacific island during World War II, must make a temporary truce and cooperate to survive. This was the only film directed by Sinatra. The picture was filmed on the island of Kauai.
Mervyn LeRoy directed this moving story set on a South Seas island. It tells the story of an alcoholic priest (Spencer Tracy) who enlists the aid of three condemned convicts (one played by Frank Sinatra) to help in the rescue of native children threatened by an erupting volcano. It is a story of faith and redemption. The movie was filmed on the island of Maui.
John Ford directed this John Wayne romantic comedy about two ex-Navy men who remain on a South Seas island after World War II. One, "Guns" Donovan (Wayne) runs the local bar. The other, a doctor (Jack Warden), has married a local princess. A former shipmate (Lee Marvin) arrives, followed by a high society Bostonian (Elizabeth Allen). Filmed on Kauai, this picture is filled with local scenery.
10. King Kong - 1976
The John Guillermin version of the classic story of the great ape and the girl was poorly received by most critics and the viewing public alike. Jessica Lange's portrayal as the girl kidnapped by Kong was panned by almost all. The picture was partially filmed on areas of the island of Kauai rarely seen by humans, however, and for that reason alone is worth seeing.