Available only as a fragment for decades, Siren of the Tropics is Josephine Baker’s feature film debut. Made in 1927, around the time Josephine was making a Paris splash as a Folies Bergère star, Siren establishes the rags to riches, fairy tale template from which her subsequent films would be cut.
Josephine plays Papitou, a free-spirited, animal-loving native girl who falls in love with Andre, a sophisticated young man who has been sent to the Parisian Antilles as a prospector. She is unaware that he is betrothed to another, or that his work assignment is actually a perilous ruse concocted by his scheming boss. As the truth becomes known, Papitou finds herself pursuing Andre back to Paris, where fate intervenes. Will Papitou's new job as a music hall performer (a natural role for La Baker) bring the romantic resolution she so desperately desires?
Though silent, Siren of the Tropics abounds with musical energy, aided in no small part by Josephine Baker's innate screen magnetism. The film contains perhaps her greatest dance work on celluloid, the frenetic "Charleston."
The supplemental material on this DVD contains scenes of nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.
Music Composed and Performed by Donald Sosin
Licensed by Lobster Films
DVD Extras Include:
- "Josephine Baker: The Performer" (2005, 18 min.) Includes interviews with Lynn Whitfield (actress, The Josephine Baker Story), Margo Jefferson (The New York Times theatre critic), Elizabeth Kendall (dance critic and historian) and Josephine Baker’s adopted son, Jean-Claude Baker.
- "Oh, Papitou" - NY cabaret impresario Steve Ross performs a musical number written for Siren of the Tropics
- Josephine at the Folies Bergère
- "The Fireman of the Folies Bergère" (8 min.) A rare silent comedy that features Josephine Baker’s first appearance on film.
- "The Charleston," song and performance
- A Folies Bergère Stills Gallery
- The Memoirs of Josephine Baker
- A rare behind-the-scenes video clip
- The Memoir Illustrations: A Stills Gallery
Interested in bringing Siren of the Tropics to your school or library? If you'd like to have an in-class viewing, on-campus screening, or purchase the DVD for your library's collection, please contact Estelle Grosso or call (212) 629-6880 with your request.
Siren of the Tropics may also be available with Public Performance Rights (PPR) and Digital Site Licensing (DSL) for colleges and universities. To purchase the DVD with PPR or DSL, please contact Estelle Grosso or call (212) 629-6880. Click here to learn more at Kino Lorber Edu.
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