Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sarong, Farewell!

When's the last time you went to the movies and saw the leading man in a sarong? It's not a common occurrence, but maybe after a glance at these men you'll feel it ought to be.

The first three photos of this collection are from The Pagan (1929) with Ramon Novarro as the title character, a half white-half native young man in love with Renee Adoree, a native girl under the stern guardianship of white man Donald Crisp.
Of course, King of the Sarong was Jon Hall, famous for a string of adventure epics opposite Maria Montez and for The Hurricane (1939) with Queen of the Sarong Dorothy Lamour. The exhilarating climax of this disaster epic still holds up today!
Also in the film were Thomas Mitchell (who played Scarlett's father in Gone with the Wind that same year) and Mary Astor. (This film was remade in 1979 and you can read all you'd ever want to know about it here and also towards the bottom of the page here.)

Hall followed up The Hurricane with South of Pago Pago (1940), which costarred Frances Farmer.

He's seen below with Olympe Bradna, a French dancer and actress who left the biz after a few years to enjoy a seventy-year-long marriage to a California social notable.

Although an obvious cash-in on the prior blockbuster, it lacked the direction of the great John Ford and in spite of any positive attributes is close to forgotten today.

Donald Houston took a turn with this look in 1949's The Blue Lagoon with Jean Simmons. (You didn't think Chris Atkins and Brooke Shields were first at bat, did you? They traded in sarongs for loincloths in their 1980 update.)
Interesting that Houston and Simmons' little newborn baby has the same hairdo that Atkins sported in the remake!

1951's Bird of Paradise featured a rather yummy-looking Louis Jourdan in a sarong opposite the beautiful Debra Paget.

Also wrapped up in the story is Jeff Chandler as Paget's brother (!) and who is caught in a pretty wretched brown wig.

This was itself a remake of an earlier film, Bird of Paradise (1932) , which featured Joel McCrea in a sarong opposite Dolores del Rio.  

You can read (and see) more of the handsome Mr. McCrea here.
As evidenced by this lackluster photo of the ordinarily-attractive Jourdan, Paget and Chandler, sometimes spending most or all of a movie's running time in a sarong can wind up making one look like a "boob." Since trotting around shirtless in brightly-colored fabrics would likely be considered corny or campy today, I doubt we'll be seeing any of today's stars giving it a whirl, but who knows. Maybe some sort of story will warrant it again!


Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

If this is the new "bite sized" Poseidon then I'm all for it! Shirtless photos of Ramon Navarro, Jon Hall, and Louis Jourdan? Yes please.

And you know, I think a new sarong movie would be excellent. They come around occasionally. Didn't Jason Scott Lee traipse around in one not too long ago? And The Rock is just made for it.

Keep up the great work, and don't worry about taking it "easy."

roberta steve said...

Be still my heart! I'm all for photos of Joel McCrea in a sarong! One of my all time favorites. Wasn't it Maureen Stapleton who thanked Joel in her Oscar acceptance speach for inspiring her to be an actor? I don't know why but I always associate Maureen and Joel.

Know you're crazy busy Poseidon, so thanks for this "bite size" bit of heaven!

Poseidon3 said...

Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed this! And there will be even smaller bites than this, I'm afraid! I had been working on this post prior to the avalanche of work that came my way recently.

Roberta, I just want to tell you that in my house is a VHS of "Oscar's Greatest Moments: 1971-1991" and I know every frame of it by heart, keep it under 24-hour motion detection and attack dog surveillance, etc... and Maureen's acceptance speech is featured on it. HOWEVER, after she says she'd like to thank "everyone I've ever met in my entire life" it cuts off. So I had to go look it up and, sure enough, she thanked her inspiration Joel McCrea right afterwards! How fascinating! Further research reveals that Maureen spent her childhood at the movies, went practically every day and idolized Robert Taylor, Clark Gable and Joel McCrea. Perhaps she mentioned him aloud because he was the only one still living at that time and would hear it. Very neat!! Thanks for sharing!

roberta steve said...

Poseidon, after I posted my comment, I, too did some research and saw the clip of Maureen's speech as well. I also found an article about the memorial service her friends held for her after she died. Her theatre buddies regaled the audience with funny stories about Maureen's quirks. But, according to the article, the thing that got the biggest laugh was when they brought out a life sized cardboard cutout of Joel McCrea! So apparently Joel was truly special to her.

Also read a nice obit of Joel which mentioned Maureen's "crush" on him. She
Even got to meet him once!

Scooter said...

I did not know that the 80's Blue Lagoon was a remake. Learn something new everyday. I've commented on the lack of creativity coming from Hollywood with all the remakes of late. Turns out, it was always thus!

joel65913 said...

Oh the sarong, what an odd piece of clothing but on the right person it's quite the eye catcher. It certainly suited these men very well.

I just saw the original Blue Lagoon on YouTube a couple weeks ago. It was an improvement on the remake but still rather hokey. Donald Houston had all the elements of a bronzed God in the male lead but somehow I found him curiously sexless. I think it was his innate British reserve despite having grown up on a desert island! He came across as very stiff, Jean Simmons however was breathtaking and even though she had a certain timidity she was much more relaxed and natural. Watching the two it was easy to see how she moved forward to big international stardom and he settled into a respectable but unspectacular career.

That last picture! How was it not killed by the studio? It takes two handsome men and makes them look odd and one of the most beautiful women who was ever in film and turns her into a wax figure.