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Thursday, May 30, 2013

BIRD OF PARADISE (1932)

Everybody’s favorite throw-the-native-beauty-in-the-angry-volcano pic finally gets a worthy DVD release on KINO. Sourced from excellent nitrate elements held by the George Eastman House archive, it replaces all those murky Public Domain issues, revealing a physical beauty once only guessed at. For director King Vidor, the film was a huge leap forward from his last two, THE CHAMP/’31 and STREET SCENE/’31, superb works that functioned within the technical constraints of Early Talkie mechanics. No more. Now, the freedom of movement & fluid camera work of the late silents are back in action. (Maybe it’s a great leap backwards.) We also get a full background score from Max Steiner, one of the first, and something of a warm-up for KING KONG/’33. The old story doesn’t clunk as much as you might recall, opening with a great meet-cute during a shark attack (!) before settling down to tribal rituals (courtesy of choreographer Busby Berkeley) and a tabu love affair for the fleshly charms of Dolores Del Rio & Joel McCrea in erotic Pre-Code form. Yummy stuff.

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