Bird of Paradise (1932)

Article #1310 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-15-2004
Posting Date: 3-14-2005
Directed by King Vidor
Featuring Dolores del Rio, Joel McCrea, John Halliday

A white man falls in love with a native girl on a south seas island, not knowing that she is the daughter of the chief and fated to be cast in the volcano to appease the gods.

Apparently, this type of story was old hat even at the time this was made. It’s a pretty elaborate production, though; my only wish is that it could have been in color. It’s also pretty racy; this was before the production code, and we have scenes of the native girl swimming naked (I don’t know if it’s Dolores del Rio or a stand-in; you never get a good look at her during this sequence) and another of del Rio wearing a top that consists of nothing more than a couple of leis. You also get a scene of Joel McCrea swimming with a turtle, sliding down a hill on a palm leaf, and teaching English to Dolores del Rio. This being the type of story it is, it’s at least borderline fantasy anyway, but the appearance of a shark and a plot point involving the volcano’s curse give it marginal horror touches as well. A certain Creighton Chaney (you know; Lon’s son) plays one of the sailors, though I can’t say whether he was given any lines of dialogue. The movie would be remade in 1951.


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