Siren of the Tropics

Siren of the Tropics

Directed by Henri Étiévant and Mario Nalpas • 1927 • France
Starring Josephine Baker, Pierre Batcheff, Régina Dalthy

Made around the time she was making a Paris splash as a Folies Bergère star, Josephine Baker’s first major film casts her as Papitou, a free-spirited, animal-loving girl who falls in love with André (Pierre Batcheff), a sophisticated young man who has been sent to the Caribbean as a prospector. She is unaware that he is betrothed to another and that his work assignment is actually a perilous ruse concocted by his scheming boss. As the truth becomes known, Papitou finds herself pursuing André back to Paris, where fate intervenes. Will Papitou’s new job as a music-hall performer 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, and contains perhaps her greatest dance work on celluloid, the frenetic “Charleston.”

Please be advised: this film contains offensive racial stereotypes. For more information, we suggest watching scholar Terri Simone Francis contextualize Josephine Baker’s film career in the “Terri Simone Francis on Josephine Baker” program below.

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Siren of the Tropics
  • Siren of the Tropics

    Directed by Henri Étiévant and Mario Nalpas • 1927 • France
    Starring Josephine Baker, Pierre Batcheff, Régina Dalthy

    Made around the time she was making a Paris splash as a Folies Bergère star, Josephine Baker’s first major film casts her as Papitou, a free-spirited, animal-loving girl who falls...

Extras

  • Terri Simone Francis on Josephine Baker

    In the following interview, conducted by filmmaker Ina Diane Archer in 2021, scholar Terri Simone Francis explores Josephine Baker’s early career, her transition from screen to stage, and the way colonialist fantasies vie with Baker’s own vision and ambition in her films.