Bird of Paradise

1932

Adventure / Drama / Romance

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 53%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 47%
IMDb Rating 6.0 10 1330

love pre-code volcano exotic island

Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
July 31, 2022 at 09:48 PM

Director

Top cast

Joel McCrea as Johnny Baker
Lon Chaney Jr. as Thornton
720p.BLU
754.99 MB
962*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 22 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

Where Were Those Missionaries?

This was a scandalous picture for 1932, an interracial romance with a nude Dolores Del Rio. Bird of Paradise has Del Rio as the daughter of the chief of a South Sea Island where a schooner lands that has Joel McCrea in the crew. McCrea has left the Depression ridden USA behind and now wants to stay on the island. He's decided to see if all the stories are true about the hedonistic natives.

What he doesn't bargain for is falling for Del Rio. But she being the daughter of the head guy is spoken for. Nevertheless they elope in a manner of speaking and start kanoodling on another island.

You can see why this film was such a big hit that year. With so many young men out of work, who wouldn't want to take off to the South Seas as Joel McCrea did? I say young men because women for the most part were not considered part of the work force.

I think the problem later on with this film after the Code came in was not the alleged nudity, you can't tell in any event. Both McCrea and Del Rio spend a lot of time in various stages of undress. Nor is it the interracial romance, Dorothy Lamour later carried on with a lot of anglo visitors in the South Seas with the Code in place. I think the real problem is that the film in its way respects the animist traditions of the native religion. They worship the volcano on that island and no missionaries are around to tell them different. After 1935 you would NEVER see Del Rio making ready to throw herself in the volcano to save her man and his friends. And this is in fact accepted. I'm sure Joel must have wished the missionaries had been there and had converted the natives.

Bird of Paradise is dated, but still moderately entertaining.

Reviewed by Steffi_P 7 / 10

"You certainly make civilization look silly"

There was a certain kind of picture in the "pre-code" era, in which the licentiousness of the times would throw up any kind of strange fantasy. In the most significant period of sexual liberation before the 1960s, and still in an era where plucking a bride from a primitive culture did not seem a bit dodgy, a picture like Bird of Paradise could exist. A yarn like this would be the stuff of corny B-flicks a few decades later, but back in 1932 it was acceptable A-feature material.

So what we have here is a rather odd dichotomy. A daft storyline, yet one pulled off with panache. The producer and director is King Vidor, one of the most uniquely talented filmmakers of all time, and what's more he appears to have taken Bird of Paradise very seriously. His camera set-ups give an almost documentary feel to the proceedings. He doesn't force us in with point-of-view shots, or make us coldly objective, but often has us peeping over shoulders or from behind props, like an extra amid the action. This not only gives us the feeling of being there, it is also incredibly vivid and dynamic. He directs with a mixture of realism (most of the extras were genuine Polynesians) and bizarre stylisation, culminating in rituals which become macabre and frenzied riots.

Bird of Paradise also includes a couple of "before they were famous" curios. Those wild tribal dances are choreographed by Busby Berkeley. His stark, abstract formations are already evident, and nicely suit the feel of this picture. Then there is music by Max Steiner, composing what happens to be one of the earliest examples of an orchestral backing score in a talking picture. Steiner's score is a little awkward in its mixing, but melodically it is fine, establishing themes for different characters, setting tones, matching action but never once threatening to upstage the images. Berkeley and Steiner would soon take up residence at Warner Brothers, and the rest would be history. Oh, and there's one more curio, in that you several times clearly hear the Hawaiian word "wiki", nearly seventy years before anyone thought of joining it to "pedia".

The cast of Bird of Paradise are a rather odd bunch, but it doesn't seem to matter. The ship's crew members are filled out with a number of comedy supporting players, like 'Skeets' Gallagher and Bert Roach. They make the onboard scenes a little more interesting, but their appearances are fleeting and their performances muted enough that they never threaten to overbalance the picture or make it too farcical. Lead man Joel McCrea was a competent rather than an exceptional actor, but he has the ideal physique and manner for the character. Importantly he is also a generous player, who never attempts to steal the scene. And finally we have Dolores del Rio, of course looking far more Hispanic than Polynesian, but nevertheless convincing as a native woman, and certainly vivacious.

In spite of, or perhaps because of the talkies being firmly established and no longer stilted, Bird of Paradise seems more than anything like a silent picture. It does not make do without dialogue, but what dialogue there is tends to be superfluous, the images speaking eloquently enough. In other words, you could have released it as a silent, and not needed many title cards. With its mystical, exotic tone we do not really need to hear the actors rabbiting on to retain a sense of naturalism. And yes, it does contain many moments that are somewhat laughable (such as Joel McCrea riding a turtle like it was a surfboard), but thanks to its inventive direction, spot-on casting, and professional production it manages, against all odds, to salvage some dignity.

Reviewed by Ron Oliver 7 / 10

Love, Romance & A Volcano

A young man, sailing the South Seas with friends, is saved from a shark by a lovely chief's daughter. They fall madly in love, only to have him learn that his beautiful BIRD OF PARADISE is destined to be sacrificed to Pele, the volcano god.

Essentially a piece of fluff, this film is enhanced by the performances of Dolores Del Rio & Joel McCrea. They handle the romantics quite nicely (her skinny dip providing proof this is a pre-Production Code movie). The rest of the cast, which includes Lon Chaney Jr. & 'Skeets' Gallagher, exist purely to provide support to the stars.

Location filming in Hawaii and a beautiful, evocative score by Max Steiner emphasize the languid mood of the plot.

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