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Interesting In a Number of Respects, & Del Rio Is Dazzling
This feature is interesting in a number of respects, both in its techniques and in its subject matter. And if neither of those is enough, Dolores Del Rio has a role that allows her to dazzle the viewer with her beauty and her screen presence. A young-looking Joel McCrea, as her co-star, is himself earnest and likable, though he is overshadowed by Del Rio in their scenes together.
The story starts off with McCrea, as a sailor on a yacht, being rescued from a shark by Del Rio, as the daughter of the king of a native tribe. Romance develops from there, with McCrea's character dreaming of taking her back home with him when his trip is done, but having his plans hindered by the responsibilities she faces as a king's daughter. (Why any man, given the opportunity to live alone with a woman like Del Rio on a tropical island, would yearn for 'civilization', is also a pretty good question.)
The story features some rather sensitive themes in the running contact between the two cultures. If it does not always face them comfortably, at least it is relatively even-handed much of the time. Although some 'primitive' beliefs are ascribed to the natives' culture, they are portrayed as sincere beliefs. There are also a number of points of interest on the technical side. Most obviously, there are the wealth of atmospheric shots of the tropical setting. But beyond that, there are a few interesting attempts to offer some interesting views with the camera, such as the water-level shots in the opening sailing sequence.
One particularly interesting idea is that, for a long time, the language barrier is allowed to stand realistically between the characters, especially in McCrea's efforts to communicate, instead of using a stock device to get around it. Only much later is it assumed that Del Rio's character has learned enough English to be able to communicate.
Certainly, there are times when this feature shows a little of its age, and in some respects it's not completely successful. But it would probably be worth watching to see Del Rio alone, and the rest of it contains several interesting aspects.
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