Bird of Paradise
King Vidor, David O. Selznick (executive) for RKO
directed by King Vidor
starring Dolores Del Rio, Joel McCrea, John Halliday, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher, Bert Roach, Lon Chaney jr (as Creighton Chaney), Wade Boteler, Arnold Gray, Reginald Simpson, Napoleon Pukui, Agostino Borgato, Sofia Ortega
screenplay by Leonard Praskins, Wells Root, Wanda Tuchock, based on the play by Richard Walton Tully, music by Max Steiner
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On a yachting trip through the South Seas with his friends, Johnny
(Joel McCrea) meets lovely native girl Luana (Dolores del Rio) and decides
to stay behind while his friends continue their trip. But when he wants to
get intimate with her, her tribe forces teh two apart because she's a
Princess and mustn't be touched. To keep them apart, she is supposed to be
married to a Prince from the neighbouring island, and Johnny is tied up so
he cannot interfere. He is freed though by an old and sympathetic native
woman, and he grabs Luana from the wedding ceremonies and they manage to
get away to a dessert island, where they are living just like in paradise
... that is, until the volcano on Luana's island is starting to erupt, and
her tribe comes to take her back. Johnny tries to prevent it but is
fighting a losing battle - until his friends return from their roundtrip,
shoot a few of the natives who are trying to kill Johnny, and take him and
Luana with them. Luana tries her best to come to terms with going with
Johnny and learning the joys of something he calls civilisation,
but seeing the volcano erupt, she becomes convinced it's her people she
belongs to, and she returns to her island, even if that means she might be
sacrificed to the volcano god before long ...
Not necessarily a
great film in the traditional sense of the word, but a great piece of
old-fashioned escapism, with larger than life adventure and romance as
well as exotic locale firmly in place, as well as lovely Dolores del Rio
in some very revealing (for its time) outfits and a nude swimming scene. Add to that a very
competent directorial effort and beautiful locations, and you've got one
nice piece of camp.