After becoming an instant classic when it hit the stage back in 1949, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific has spent most of its sixty-one year old life celebrating in the immediacy of the live performance, save two moments. First, in 1958, a cinematic adaptation was whipped up by director Joshua Logan, which won an Oscar for Best Sound, and a nomination for both score and color cinematography. Many years later, in 2001, a television film was offered up by NBC, starring the likes of Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr.

But now South Pacific is returning to the big screen -- with a twist.

Variety reports that Amber Entertainment's Ileen Maisel and Bob Balaban (actor/producer/story Gosford Park) are developing a new feature production of the musical. The classic tunes will be kept, but this won't be the South Pacific you remember. The plan is to "pursue a harder-edged version." Balaban says: "Our movie will be a tougher, more realistic retelling of the same classic story of two very different people whose love for each other transcends their enormous cultural differences. We think there's a whole new audience just waiting to fall in love with its magical score, epic romance, and exotic locale."

I must say, I'm intrigued at the thought. I've no idea how musical numbers from the '40s will merge with a hard, real edge, and I'm eager to see what Balaban has in mind. This may be the man who directed My Boyfriend's Back, but he's also got a great theatrical and Hollywood history that includes conceiving the idea for Gosford Park along with Robert Altman. There is, of course, the "remake" idea to consider, though I don't think that it really applies here. Due to the immediate and unsaved nature of theater, and how it morphs over the years through new minds and actors, it seems fitting to revisit the musical again.

Now I just wonder if Alec Baldwin will try to take his Carnegie Hall performance to the screen, and make up for a career he sees as a failure?