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The Pagan (1929)

Passed | | Drama | 27 April 1929 (USA)
A carefree South Seas native falls for the half-caste ward of a religious white man who desires her for himself.


W.S. Van Dyke


John Russell (from the story by), Dorothy Farnum (scenario) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Ramon Novarro ... Henry Shoesmith, Jr.
Renée Adorée ... Madge
Donald Crisp ... Mr. Roger Slater
Dorothy Janis ... Tito


Henry, the pagan son of a white father and native mother, has inherited land and a store, but he prefers the simple life. When he falls in love with a native girl, her guardian, who is trying to bring her up as a 'proper' Christian, but who also lusts after her himself, plots to keep them apart. Written by David Eickemeyer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hear Novarro Sing "The Pagan Love Song" --the whole world will be humming it! (Print Ad- St. Lawrence Plaindealer,((Canton, NY)) 22 October 1929) See more »




Passed | See all certifications »





English | Polynesian

Release Date:

27 April 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Pagão See more »


Box Office


$293,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print) | (Turner Library print) (19. (silent)

Sound Mix:

Silent (MovieTone) (synchronized music score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The name "Paumotu" islands is likely taken from the Tuamotus, which are part of French Polynesia. See more »


Tito: This is Sunday! Why you not go to church?
Henry Shoesmith, Jr.: Too hot in church. Why you go church?
Tito: Because God there.
Henry Shoesmith, Jr.: Same God out here, too... no?
Tito: Yes... He everywhere.
Henry Shoesmith, Jr.: Then why go see Him in hot church?
Tito: You are very bad?
Henry Shoesmith, Jr.: You are very funny.
See more »


Pagan Love Song
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Sung by an offscreen chorus at he beginning, Ramon Novarro and Dorothy Janis
Variations played in the score often
See more »

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User Reviews

"Come with me where moonbea-eeams..."
16 September 2013 | by jimjo1216See all my reviews

THE PAGAN (1929) is a "silent" film with a synchronized audio track (music and sound effects). This wasn't uncommon during the transition from true silent film to "talkies". Synchronized soundtracks enhanced otherwise silent films in theaters equipped for sound, while on-set sound recording technology was still being perfected.

The highlights of THE PAGAN's audio track are sections where Ramon Novarro sings "Pagan Love Song". In certain scenes, the recorded singing syncs up with Novarro's on-screen performance, making it seem as if he's singing right out of the screen (as Al Jolson had done in the groundbreaking talkie THE JAZZ SINGER [1927]).

Shot on location in Tahiti, THE PAGAN follows up directer W.S. Van Dyke's earlier tropical island drama WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS (1928), the first MGM film released with a synchronized soundtrack. Exotic silent screen star Novarro plays a carefree half-caste who owns a cocoanut plantation. Donald Crisp is a self-righteous white trader who considers it his "Christian duty" to raise beautiful half-caste orphan Dorothy Janis (King) as a "white" woman.

Novarro and Janis sing "Pagan Love Song" and fall in love, a match made in half-caste heaven. But Crisp doesn't want his ward associating with the heathen, even if Crisp paints on a hypocritical smile to do business with him. Hoping to earn Crisp's approval to romance Janis, Novarro decides to go into business, trading in his sarong for a suit of clothes. But Crisp has ideas of his own. Renée Adorée plays Novarro's friend, a white woman of dubious reputation living in the tropics.

The film is charming, with a nice romance and a taste of tropical exoticism. Viewers will have "Pagan Love Song" stuck in their heads for a while. The brunette Dorothy Janis is absolutely adorable, and it's surprising this film didn't launch her to stardom. Adorée gets higher billing for her supporting part, but it is Janis who makes an impression in a breakout role. Novarro comes out looking okay, too. The camera loves showing off his tanned body and this film led to more singing roles in the early talkie days.

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