Bird of Paradise (1932)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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Critic Reviews for Bird of Paradise
If Bird of Paradise had used a director that knew how to loosen up but still become involved in the story, it might have had a more sensual, romantic feel in addition to its exoticism.
Audience Reviews for Bird of Paradise
This is a hard film to look at. On the one hand with modern sensibilities it's very easy to just cringe and toss this movie out as typical of the casual racism of the 30's and never look at it again. After all this movie was not lovingly kept in the archives. The DVD print I watched was falling apart and at times almost inaudible...
But there's something quite contrary when one puts on their 1932 cap. Just 2 years from this movie's make the puritanical Hayes Code would step in and make the very concept of an interracial relationship against the rules. The very fact that in 1932 an audience could go to the cinema and see a movie with all-American white Joel McCrea and Mexican star Delores Del Rio (who Orson Wells said was "the most interesting woman" he'd ever met) fall in love and act upon said love is insane at the very least. That kind of thing begs another look from this almost forgotten movie.
Let's not forget the insane eroticism of this movie. Del Rio walks around with a very carefully placed Lei and grass skirt... and not much else. According to film lore she was naked in the underwater shots but due to lighting and film degradation it's impossible to tell. McCrea (a damn good looking man) walks around towards the end of the film in little more than a big loin cloth. The scene where McCrea and Del Rio feed each other coconut milk and it slops over their mouths is practically a sexual encounter and all the other little instances make this the most sexualized pre-coder I've ever seen.
If nothing else see it for the fact that it is one of the few American talkies Del Rio ever made before the Hayes Code destroyed her career and she went back to Mexico.
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