ROUBEN, ROUBEN

Charles Champlin's interview with Rouben Mamoulian did much to keep that survivor of the glory days of the Hollywood studio empire alive in the minds of a generation weaned on maverick film makers ("Mamoulian: The Directors Guild Midwife," Jan. 19).

If he were entering the industry as a young man today, Mamoulian would surely have been among the most independent of directors.

Although Champlin astutely observed that Mamoulian does not usually preserve anecdotes with disappointing endings, further conversation between the two might have revealed that Joshua Logan, not he, directed "South Pacific."

As the properties of Rodgers and Hammerstein flourished into a systematic industry, the pair sought more malleable, less independent artistic leadership for their increasingly earthbound musicals.

"South Pacific" may have been "rhapsodic," as Brooks Atkinson called it, but it echoed little of the lyricism and "seamlessness" that Mamoulian and Agnes De Mille brought to "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel."

BENNETT T. OBERSTEIN

Los Angeles

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