If it can find nothing else, the cinema can always turn to florid human beauty—as David Selzniek realized: “I want del Rio and McCrea in a South Sea romance,” he said. “Just give me three wonderful love scenes like you had in The Big Parade and Barclelys the Magnificent. I don't care what story you use so long as we call it Bird of Paradise and del Rio jumps into a flaming volcano at the finish.”
And so King Vidor set sail for the Pacific to make the purest visual tribute to del Rio’s burning loveliness. This Lolita had been the child of wealthy parents, married at sixteen, when her Humbert appeared: the American film director Edwin Carewe. He whisked lier away to Hollywood and directed her in Joanna (25), High Steppes (26), and Pals First (26). In time, she was better appreciated by other directors, principally Raoul Walsh who cast her as Charmaine, beguiling Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe in What Price Glory? (26), and then as the Spanish girl in The Loves of Cannen (27). Carewe directed her as the peasant girl in Resurrection (27) and she went on to make The Gateway of the Moon (28, John Griffith Wray); The Trail of '98 (28, Clarence Brown); No Other Woman (28, Lou Tellegen); and The Red Dunce (28, Walsh). With Carewe again, she made Ramona (28), Revenge (28), and Evangeline (29). Mrs. Carewe divorced her husband around this time and del Rio’s Mexican husband died. But the Carewes were reunited and Dolores married the MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons.
She remained a leading player for another four years: The Bad One (30, George Fitzmauriee); Bird of Paradise (32); Flying Down to Rio (33, Thornton Freeland); Wonder Bar (34, Lloyd Bacon); Madame Du Barry (34, William Dieterle); In Caliente (35, Bacon); and I Live for Love (35, Busby Berkeley). She went to Britain to make Accused (36, F reeland) and made only second features—Lancer Spy (37, Gregory Ratoff); International Settlement (38, Eugene Forde); and The Man from Dakota (40, Leslie Fenton). After appearing in Journet/ into Fear (42, Norman Foster)—she was beloved oi Orson at the time—she went back to Mexico and flourished there. In 1947, she was the Magdalene figure in John Ford’s The Fugitive (47) and in the 1960s she had two notable supporting parts in American films: Flaming Star (60, Don Siegel) and Cheyenne Autumn (64, Ford). Those films, as well as her appearances in Mexican, Spanish, and Italian movies, show her beautv unabated, as in Cinderella, Italian Style (67, Francesco Rosi).