When watching Debra Paget, For Example (2015) and seeing clips of the actress‘s work, I was struck by the beautiful colors and dramatic shots that could be found in many of her films, which I had presumed to be mostly B movies. Maybe they weren’t all quality or fully successful pictures, but I caught myself finding aspects of them to admire.
Bird of Paradise (1951) stood out in this regard. I’ve only seen King Vidor‘s 1932 version starring Dolores del Río in its entirety, not the Delmer Daves‘ remake starring Paget. Dolores looked beautiful in her film and played her part well, but Paget had an acting advantage to make her character’s tragic ending even more impactful–Technicolor and framings like below. The intensity of color suggests the intensity of the heat and flames she’s walking through and the intensity of the lava she will be leaping into..
The colors and subject matter connected me back to another film I’d seen in February at the BAMPFA, Guy Maddin‘s The Forbidden Room (2015). His dream-like mix of genre stories within genre stories connecting to other genre stories that fade in and out of each other as one takes momentary prominence also featured island sequences with their not-so-indigenous-looking natives, volcano shots and flames, and another sacrifice. A Grantland interview cites Vidor’s movie as an influence, it was part of an earlier wave of Polynesian pictures, but it’s easier to see Daves’ movie as having greater influence. It’s in the oversaturated colors; it’s in the shots of another dark-haired woman’s flame-framed face. A great moment will make a film live on–in memories, in the subconscious, in dreams, and maybe once again on the screen. Reinterpretation is a compliment.