LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS was one of the last silent films to be released. It did have a musical soundtrack though and was shot in two-strip Technicolor. Filmed entirely on the island of Bali (in what is now Indonesia) using non-professional actors (native Balinese). The film serves better as a time-capsule of the Balinese people rather than melodrama. I say that because as drama - LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS is rather simplistic compared to other films of the era. I have read that during it's initial release in New York City, tickets were selling for $5 - a princely sum, really...when you consider that you could get a steak dinner (at the time) for something like $1. Why the high price? I can only think of one...err, TWO reasons why!
Yes, this film contains gratuitous footage of topless Balinese women. I suppose it was allowed by the censors because of that "National Geographic" mentality. It's okay to show women topless if they happen to be natives of a third-world country. But surprisingly...there are very few of the "saggy" variety to be seen in this film. Director Henri de la Falaise preferred the "perkier" look. I guess if you are able to feature gratuitous perky breasts...well, who needs a "story"?!?...and then you can charge 5 bucks and nobody would mind, I guess.
There are really only four major characters in the film.
Poutou (Poetoe Aloes Goesti) is the young Balinese village girl who has the love-sickness for a young Balinese musician - known only here as "The Boy" (Njong Njong Njoman). The boy seems like a nice young man but doesn't notice how much Poutou is attracted to him.
Poutou's father (Bagus Mara Goesti) - who loves cock-fighting - notices his daughter eyeing The Boy once too often and suggests she invite The Boy over for dinner. Good idea!
Go back to choking your chickens old man, because the moment The Boy sets his eyes on Poutou's younger sister (Saplak Njoman)...well, the classic love-triangle unfolds...to rather fateful consequences.
The film is relatively short: 65 minutes...and despite the bare breasts and the lurid sounding title - LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS is a very, very tame film. If you ask me, I think something like BABY FACE (1933) is a much hotter and sexier film overall and does so without resorting to showing any uncovered female breasts.
As I mentioned...the film does serve as a pretty good time-capsule of native Balinese village life in the 30's. Captured are some of the native dances and rituals which may be of some interest to some. Too bad the musical soundtrack wasn't a bit more Balinese.
The censors did get wise to this film...cutting out the bare breasts footage eventually. I thought they would end up maybe with a 3 minute film...but no - it was actually more like 30 minutes.
I hope they didn't charge 5 bucks for that!!!