Pagan Love Song

Pagan Love Song

Original film poster
Directed by Robert Alton
Produced by Arthur Freed
Written by Robert Nathan
Jerry Davis
William S. Stone (novel)
Starring Esther Williams
Howard Keel
Minna Gombell
Charles Mauu
Rita Moreno
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
December 29, 1950
Running time
76 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,920,000[1]
Box office $3,360,000[1]

Pagan Love Song is a musical romance film released by MGM in 1950 and starring Esther Williams and Howard Keel. Set in Tahiti, it was based on the novel Tahiti Landfall by William S. Stone.


Mimi Bennett lives with her wealthy aunt Kate on the South Pacific isle of Tahiti. A half-Tahitian, half-Caucasian girl, Mimi's dream is to someday leave this world to live in America.

Hazard Endicott's arrival changes her plans. He is a school teacher from Ohio who has inherited a Tahiti estate. His first task is to hire a servant and he mistakes Mimi for a native girl, offering her a job. She amuses herself by not telling him the truth.

The estate turns out to be little more than a shack. Endicott also miscalculates an invitation to a party at Kate's, coming in casual island attire to an event with elegantly dressed guests. Mimi takes pity on him and a romance blooms.



The film was originally announced as Tahiti and was to star Ann Miller, Howard Keel and Ricardo Montalban.[2] Eventually Miller was replaced by Esther Williams and Montalban by Charles Mauu.[3]

The film was to have been directed by Stanley Donen but Williams refused to work with him again after Take Me Out to the Ballgame.[4] Location work was done on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.[5][6]

Esther Williams realised she was pregnant during the shoot. She claimed she nearly drowned during filming.[5]

The film went $400,000 over budget.[5]

Deleted songs

"Sea of the Moon", performed by voice-dubbed Esther Williams, was cut from the released film; this video outtake still survives today.[7]

Howard Keel sings "Why Is Love So Crazy?" in the released film version, but a reprise performed by Esther Williams was cut; this video outtake also still exists.[8][9]

Howard Keel's song "Music on the Water" was deleted from the released film. The audio pre-recording survives; the status of the video outtake is unknown.[10]


According to MGM records the film earned $2,157,000 in the US and Canada and $1,203,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $108,000.[1] This was considered a relative disappointment for an Esther Williams movie.[5]


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 07 May 1949: 17.
  3. David Wayne to Stay for Films Till Fall Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Mar 1950: 10.
  4. DRATTLER DRAMA IS BOUGHT BY RKO: Studio Acquires 'Miami Story' as Vehicle for Robert Ryan --Author Named Producer Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Jan 1950: 10.
  5. 1 2 3 4
  6. HAWAII HAILS CONQUERING HEROINE: Attraction Boom Actors All By JOHN ROTHWELL LIHUE, Kauai, T.H.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 May 1950: 116.
  7. "Sea of the Moon" from Pagan Love Song at YouTube
  8. Esther Williams performing "Why Is Love So Crazy?" dubbed by ghost singer - outtake on YouTube
  9. Performances of "Why Is Love So Crazy?" by Esther Willams and Howard Keel on YouTube
  10. "Music on the Water" pre-recording by Howard Keel at YouTube

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