In the 1930s, Bali became the place to be. Extolled as a paradise on earth with beautiful (mostly topless) natives and an exotic culture, the small island was soon swarmed by the rich and famous. When the Marquis Henry de la Falaise de la Coudraye or "Hank" to ex-wife Gloria Swanson and current wife/producer Constance Bennett arrived in Bali with a Technicolor crew in 1933, there had already been a slew of "documentaries" that reaped box office success in the United States. Directed by the dilettante husband of two famous movie stars, how good could the film be? Slashed apart by censors around the world, Legong quickly disappeared and was forgotten.
Now fully restored to its glistening two-color Technicolor by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Legong has been revealed as a cinematic classic. With its impressive sensitivity to Balinese customs (the dance and religious rituals they filmed have become extremely important for their ethnographic value alone) and an eye for the natural beauty of the island, the film ranks with F. W. Murnaus Tabu as an enduring masterpiece of tropical splendor.