Bird of Paradise (1951 film)

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Bird of Paradise
Bird of paradise English Poster.jpg
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Delmer Daves
Screenplay by Delmer Daves
Based on the play
by Richard Walton Tully
Starring Debra Paget
Louis Jourdan
Jeff Chandler
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Winton C. Hoch
Edited by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 14, 1951 (1951-03-14) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,650,000 (US rentals)[1][2]

Bird of Paradise is a 1951 drama film directed by Delmer Daves. It stars Debra Paget and Louis Jourdan.[3]

Plot[edit]

Andre Laurence (Jourdan) takes a trip to a Polynesian island with his college roommate Tenga (Chandler). He assumes the native life and marries his friend's sister, Kalua. An eruption of a volcano and the Kahuna, the island's shaman, decides that the volcano can be appeased with the sacrifice of Kalua.

Cast[edit]

O'ahu native Queenie Ventura (married name Dowsett), born 1930, half pure Hawaiian and half Portuguese, joined the cast as a featured dancer and the local lead actress.

Production[edit]

The movie was announced in May 1950.[4] It reunited several personnel from Broken Arrow including Deborah Paget, Delmer Daves and Jeff Chandler. Chandler joked that his character was a variation on his performance as Cochise in Broken Arrow.

The story is really about a conflict of worlds in 1850: a primitive people who live by their beliefs and the civilisation - in quotes - brought by the white man. The problem is never resolved; even marriage can't do it - but... we used some wonderful locations and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.[5]

Sterling Hayden was mentioned as a possibility for the male lead.[6] Eventually Louis Jourdan was cast. Delmer Daves claims he wrote "a practically new story" from the play.[7] It was Maurice Schwartz's second movie role.[8]

The film was shot on location in Hawaii starting in August 1950.[9] Key locations were Hanalei Bay, Waikiki, Kona Coast and Volcano.[10]

Chandler had to be flown back every weekend to Los Angeles in order to fulfill his radio commitment to Our Miss Brooks.[5]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

When the film was released, The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther panned the film, writing, "There is certainly nothing original—or particularly blissful, we would say—about the romantic tumble here taken by a visiting white man for a beauteous native maid...Unfortunately, Delmer Daves, who directed and wrote the script, either didn't or wasn't permitted to pitch the whole film in this slyly kidding vein. And the consequence is a rambling mishmosh of South Sea romance and travesty, of solemn high-priesting and low clowning, of never-never spectacle and sport."[11]

On the other hand, the staff at Variety magazine gave the film a favorable review, writing, "Richard Walton Tully's old legit piece, Bird of Paradise, makes another trip to the screen in a refurbished version. Previous filming of the play was in 1932 and, while Delmer Daves' version deviates from the Tully form, the essentials of the drama are still there, plus a beautiful Technicolor camera job, haunting island music and the use of actual locales...Paget hits a high level in her performance as the Princess Kalua. She, as well as the other players give their characters considerable sincerity. Jourdan is an excellent choice as the island visitor, as is Chandler as the prince."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  2. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 224
  3. ^ Bird of Paradise at the TCM Movie Database
  4. ^ TWO SIGN FOR ROLES IN PARAMOUNT FILM: Miriam Hopkins, Thelima Ritter to Play Mothers of Leads in 'A Relative Stranger' By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 May 1950: 41
  5. ^ a b Jeff Chandler Finally Gets to 'Act His Age': Rising Young (31) Screens Player Considers Himself 'a Lucky Kid' SCHEUER, PHLIP K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Oct 1950: D3.
  6. ^ FILMLAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 May 1950: A7.
  7. ^ JOAN BENNETT GETS LEAD IN FOX MOVIE: STAR OF 'MERRY WIDOW' By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 June 1950: 40.
  8. ^ Maurice Schwartz Set as Witch Doctor; 'Wild Land,' 'Pantang' Slated Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 June 1950: A7.
  9. ^ Polynesian Idyl: Hawaiians, History, Volcanoes and Flora Aid in Filming 'Bird of Paradise' Hot Work Native Tunes – By Grady Jhnson. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Aug 1950: 83.
  10. ^ Film Plans For New 'Bird Of Paradise' By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 08 Sep 1950: 5.
  11. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, March 15, 1951. Last accessed: February 10, 2011.
  12. ^ Variety. Film review, March 14, 1951. Last accessed: February 13, 2011.

External links[edit]