Friday, September 28, 2012

Pagan Love Song (1950).

Pagan Love Song (1950). A beautiful south seas musical, where everyone lives in the sun and looks out for each other. This is one of my favorites films from the Esther Williams DVD volume II collection.

A tanned Esther Williams plays a Half-Tahitian Half- American woman.( Mimi Bennett), who lives with her rich aunt. Bored of the easy life of Tahiti and longs for the excitement of the United States. But when (Hazard Endicott) played by Howard Keel, arrives to take over his late uncle's coconut plantation, she has a change of heart.

At first Hazard mistakes Mimi for one of natives, and instead of correcting Hazard, Mimi playfully pretends to know just a little bit of English.

Later.. Mimi stops by to invite Hazard to a party at her house. Hazard accepts the invitation. Expecting the guests to be natives, Hazard comes dressed in a sarong. When he finds the guests are dressed in suits and evening dresses. He leaves the party  and Mimi, realizing that her joke has gone to far, catches up with him and tells him the truth.

After a short time they become engaged. Everything is going well until one day when Mimi witnesses Hazard lose his temper with one of his workers Tavae. Mimi does not like Hazard's harsh treatment of Tavae and breaks off their engagement. Will Mimi ever forgive Hazard?

This is a gorgeous film. Scenery of the island of Tahiti was beautiful. A cute story line with some wonderful songs and one amazing coral sea ballet. I also enjoyed seeing the native dances. One that really stood out in my mind was the SIMONE knife dance. Rita Moreno plays a feature role, in sarong and long beautiful hair.

Esther Williams, was 6 months pregnant while filming PAGAN LOVE Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse were the first choices for the leads, but Charisse was pregnant at the time. A new screenplay was then written for Esther Williams to star in.


Rita Moreno (born December 11, 1931), was born Rosa Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, to Rosa María, a seamstress, and Paco Alverío, a farmer. She moved with her mother to New York City at the age of five, and took the surname of her stepfather, Edward Moreno.

She began her first dancing lessons soon after arriving in New York from a friend of her mother, a Spanish dancer called Paco Cansino, who was the uncle of Rita Hayworth.

When she was 11 years old, she lent her voice to Spanish language versions of American films. She had her first Broadway role as "Angelina" in Skydrift.  By the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts.

She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans and Singin' in the Rain, in which she played Zelda Zanners. In March 1954, Moreno was featured on the cover of Life Magazine with a caption “Rita Moreno: An Actresses' Catalog of Sex and Innocence.” In 1956, she had a supporting role in the film version of The King and I as Tuptim.

Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise's and Jerome Robbins' film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musical, West Side Story, which was played by Chita Rivera on Broadway.

Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role. After winning the Oscar, Moreno thought she would be able to continue to perform less stereotypical film roles, but didn't make another movie for seven years after winning the Oscar....

Moreno went on to be the first Hispanic to win an Emmy (1977), a Grammy (1972), an Oscar (1962) and a Tony (1975).

 In 1985, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago. Other roles Besides appearing in Singin' in the Rain, The King and I, Summer and Smoke (1961), West Side Story, The Night of the Following Day (1968) and Carnal Knowledge in (1971), Moreno appeared on the PBS children's series The Electric Company in the 1970s, most notably as Millie the Helper. Moreno screamed the show's opening line, "HEY, YOU GUYS!"

She also had roles as the naughty little girl Pandora, and as "Otto", the very short-tempered director. Moreno appeared in the family variety series The Muppet Show, and she made other guest appearances on television series such as The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, The Cosby Show, George Lopez, The Golden Girls, and Miami Vice.

 She was also a regular on the short-lived sitcom version of Nine to Five (based on the film hit) during the early 1980s. Broadway and television Moreno's Broadway credits include: The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Gantry, The Ritz, for which she won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress, and the female version of The Odd Couple.

In 1993 she was invited to perform at President Bill Clinton's inauguration and later that month was asked to perform at the White House. During the mid 1990s, Moreno provided the voice of Carmen Sandiego on the animated Fox show Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

 In 1995, she co-starred with Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, Deborah Winters and Peter Graves in the Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

 In the late 1990s, she gained exposure to a new generation of viewers when she played Sister Pete, a nun trained as a psychologist in the popular HBO series, Oz. She made a guest appearance on The Nanny as Coach Stone, Maggie's (Nicholle Tom) tyrannical gym teacher, whom Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) also remembered from her school as Ms. Wickavich. Moreno continues to be active on stage and screen.

 In 2006, she portrayed Amanda Wingfield in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's revival of The Glass Menagerie. She was seen on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as the dying mother of Detective Goren. She was a regular on the short-lived TV series Cane.

In 2011 she accepted the role of the mother of Fran Drescher's character in the TV sitcom Happily Divorced. In September 2011, Moreno began performing a solo autobiographical show at the Berkeley Rep (theater) in Berkeley, California, Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup written by Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone after hours of interviews with Moreno.

Moreno dated Marlon Brando for 8 years, and attempted suicide in his home in 1962. On June 18, 1965, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist who was also her manager. He died on June 30, 2010. They have one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Gordon-Fisher, and two grandsons, Justin and Cameron Fisher.


  1. I believe I saw Pagan Love Song way back in the 80s when a channel was showing a bunch of Esther Williams movies. I don't really remember much from it now, though.

  2. Chip Lary, I enjoy a good Esther Williams film, on one of those quiet Sunday afternoons..


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