Sight and Sound - 07/01/2012
"Vidor and Selznick were going for the full matinee thrill...and their film is packed with dense visuals and immaculate process-shot set pieces..."
Having inherited the warhorse stage piece BIRD OF PARADISE from his predecessor William LeBaron, RKO Radio production chief David O. Selznick opted to do the property up brown, hoping to transform the Richard Walton Tully original into RKO's "prestige" offering of 1932. Joel McCrea stars as a handsome South Seas soldier of fortune who falls in love with Dolores Del Rio, the daughter of a Polynesian native chieftain. Alas, their idyllic romance is destined to come to a sudden and violent end: tribal custom decrees that Del Rio is to be sacrificed to the local volcano. After initial resistance, the heroine nobly resigns herself to her fate, realizing that there is no place for her in her white lover's civilization. A more conservative (and far less costly) version of BIRD OF PARADISE was filmed in 1952, with Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget.