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Locations Magazine April 2005

BALI - Location of Hollywood’s Last Silent Film

Bali, Indonesia was the setting for the last silent film ever produced in Hollywood and the last film to use the two-strip Technicolor process.

Released by Paramount International in 1935, Henri de la Falaise’s “Legong: Dance of the Virgins”, was originally only shown outside the USA due to concerns about female nudity in the film and the uproar it would cause.

Married to silver screen legend Gloria Swanson from 1925-31, she described Faliaise as the love of her life and the abortion of his child in 1928 at the height of her fame one of her greatest tragedies.

Long inspired by Bali as a place of sensuality, mystery, romance, and adventure, Hollywood first filmed “Goona Goona” on the island in 1932.

Shot by Andre Roosevelt (US President Theodore Roosevelt’s nephew), “Goona Goona” was originally released in two-color Technicolor and one of the last films released with unsynchronized sound track.

Finally in the late 1930's both “Legong” and “Goona Goona” were shown in cinemas in Hollywood and New York City attracting thousands to see bare breasted native girls.

These films helped launch Bali as a free loving paradise for a host of Hollywood trendsetters including, Water Spies, artist-musician and homosexual lover of director F.W. Murnau (“Nosferatu” 1924), renowned playwright Noel Coward, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, and silent screen star Charlie Chaplin who is quoted as saying “if it comes to the worst, we’ll go to Bali”.

It also resulted in the opening of a Gay nightclub in New York City called Goona Goona in 1927.

This popularity prompted Roosevelt and M.J. Minas, an Armenian film showman, to establish Thomas Cook and American Express offices on Bali in 1924.

Since then Bali has continued to be an artistic and spiritual haven for celebrities from around the world and a magnet for filmmakers of today.

Just completing two months filming on Bali and neighboring of island Lombok is director Marc Esposito’s "Toute la Beaute’ du Monde" (Pierre Javaux Production) starring Marc Lavoine and Zoe Felix. Discussions are presently underway with Kennedy Miller (“Babe”, “Mad Max”) to film the Australian thriller "Mango River", and next year Kalimantan (Borneo) will be the setting for LeBrocquyFraser (2004 Golden Globe Award Winners “Osama”) production of "Almayer's Folly" based on Joseph Conrad’s 1850s novel and starring Harvey Keitel.