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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bird Of Paradise (1951)

In the late 19th century, a Frenchman (Louis Jourdan) accompanies his Polynesian school friend (Jeff Chandler) to his native island. There, the Frenchman has trouble adapting to their native customs which are alien to him but he falls in love with the chief's daughter (Debra Paget). But there's trouble in paradise when the Kahuna (Maurice Schwartz) prophesies that the white man will bring bad luck to the island. Based on the creaky 1912 play by Richard Walton Tully which King Vidor previously made in 1932, this is a kitschy piece of tropical nonsense that makes for a diverting afternoon of mindless movie watching. The director Delmer Daves' previous film had been the excellent BROKEN ARROW which was one of the first films openly sympathetic to the Native Americans. Perhaps Daves thought he could do something similar with the Polynesian culture. Daves' BROKEN ARROW stars, Chandler and Paget change their Indian buckskins for sarongs here but the film has about as much depth as a wading pool. Though filmed on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai, Winton C. Hoch's cinematography doesn't take full advantage of the islands' magnificent vistas. With Everett Sloane and Jack Elam.

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