The Idol Dancer (1920)

 |  Drama  |  21 March 1920 (USA)
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This D.W Griffith silent classic features a new music score by writer composer, Jim Roberge.


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Cast overview:
Clarine Seymour ...
Creighton Hale ...
Walter Kincaid
George MacQuarrie ...
Rev. Franklyn Blythe
Kate Bruce ...
Mrs. Blythe
Porter Strong ...
Rev. Peter
Anders Randolf ...
The Blackbirder
Walter James ...
Chief Wando
Thomas Carr ...
Donald Blythe
Herbert Sutch ...
Old Thomas
Adolph Lestina ...
Black Slave
Ben Grauer ...
Native Boy
Walter Kolomoku ...
Native Musician
Florence Short ...


A religious zealot and his nephew are thrown together on a South Seas Island with an alcoholic beach comber and a native dancer. A battle to see who will "civilize" whom ensues. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Release Date:

21 March 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fires of Love  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the making of both this film and The Love Flower (1920), filmed simultaneously in December 1919, D.W. Griffith and his cast and crew experienced rough seas while sailing on the yacht The Grey Duck from Miami to Nassau. Two persons were washed overboard and were rescued, but there was no food for three days. See more »

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User Reviews

Dancing and Fighting without Pants
29 October 2007 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Richard Barthelmess (as Dan McGuire) is a Beachcomber, "a derelict thrown upon the shore by shifting waves and winds of many adventures"; gin is his only consolation. Clarine Seymour is Mary, with the "blood of vivacious France, inscrutable Java, and languorous Samoa mingle in her veins"; the South Sea natives call her "White Almond Flower". Arriving on the South Sea isle is its missionary's nephew Creighton Hale (as Walter Kincaid), "an invalid, whose greatest moral offense has been kissing his cousin in a dark hallway." Ms. Seymour's heathen dancing ignites passion and jealousy in Mr. Barthelmess and Mr. Hale.

"The Idol Dancer" is Seymour, but another dancer steals the show: Florence Short (as Pansy), she first appears about five minutes into the film. Described as "a savage flower who yields to missionary clothes, but wriggles free from all other conventions," the character is ludicrous. It's difficult to believe there was a time when this sort of portrayal was inoffensive! Short lusts after Peter, a native minister, and several others. Also eye-opening are two fight scenes between "white boy" Thomas Carr and "native boy" Ben Grauer. The latter boy doesn't wear pants, and worships the Devil (he's native, remember); this upsets young Carr, who wants the other kid to wear pants, and convert to Christianity. Later, (if you are still watching) the boys have a re-match. Carr wins the second fight, and forces pants on Grauer; though, he does put up a struggle! When Grauer tries to take his pants off, Carr threatens to punch him; then, he makes Grauer go to Church.

Otherwise, this D.W. Griffith directed film is notable for the scenic South Sea photography, by G.W. Bitzer. George MacQuarrie and Kate Bruce are noteworthy (as Rev. and Mrs. Franklyn Blythe). Herbert Sutch (as Old Thomas) is "a trader on the beach, very much perplexed by the strange, sweet, exotic maidenhood of his adopted daughter (Seymour)." Barthelmess and Hale perform well, despite it all. Sadly, Seymour unexpectedly died as this film was being released; she was a promising young actress.

*** The Idol Dancer (3/21/20) D.W. Griffith ~ Richard Barthelmess, Clarine Seymour, Creighton Hale

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