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The bronzed and be-flowered Mimi, a half-American, half-Tahitian girl, was raised on the island but longs for the good old U.S. of A. "All my life's been one long vacation," she sighs, "and I'm bored." Luckily, Hap Endicott arrives on the scene. He's an Ohio schoolteacher who has come to manage his late uncle's coconut plantation. The two meet cute, and love and singing ensue. Includes songs at the drop of the hat, some terrific Tahitian dancing, and a lovely moment when a lovelorn Hap looks up and sees Mimi swimming gracefully among the clouds. Written by
Forget the plot (what plot???), sit back and enjoy the nonsense...
It's safe to say that PAGAN LOVE SONG contains the thinnest wisp of a plot, even for an ESTHER WILLIAMS movie and barely a hint of conflict which only separates her briefly from HOWARD KEEL after a stormy argument over coconuts.
But MGM wisely uses Hawaii to substitute for Tahiti and filmed the whole fluffy romance in gorgeous Technicolor, provided songs for Keel to belt out in his robust baritone manner, and kept things moving nicely for a brief running time of 76 minutes. Result? One of the most attractive looking of all Esther's films, including a couple of dream sequences that have her appearing like a mermaid among the colorful coral reef backgrounds underwater. There's also a dreamy swimming scene set in the clouds, as Keel daydreams about the luscious swimmer.
It's a pity that none of the songs have much distinction and they are dropped into the proceedings with hardly any preparation--in other words, at the drop of a hat someone begins to sing with all the choreography intact. Keel's version of "The House of Singing Bamboo" is the best of the lot. It's only his second film, but he's already the pro when it comes to strutting his stuff for the camera.
He and Esther perform with a naturalness that seems to fit the faux Tahitian settings and seem completely well-matched as a screen couple under Robert Alton's smooth direction.
Summing up: An easy to take minor musical with enough eye candy to keep you pleasantly entertained even though there's almost no attempt at providing any real conflict in the easy-going storyline of a schoolteacher (Keel) who inherits a coconut plantation in Tahiti.
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