I was so distracted this morning as I tried to do my daily writing! Last night at my artist friend Marcus Boas’s house (if you want to read about him, check out this link and scroll down to my article “When Women Were the Special Effects”), a bunch of us were watching the 1954 historical action movie Princess of the Nile, on a recording made by a friend from an old broadcast on AMC. The dancer Debra Paget was so sexy in this movie I couldn’t stop thinking about her all morning…
The movie was kind of a wildly inaccurate historical mash-up (for example, they re-used Corinthian columns from a Roman movie called Demetrius and the Gladiators in the set design of an Egyptian palace), but it was a fun melodrama with a light touch, and Debra seemed to be dancing through a lot of what we saw (we’ve only got through the first third so far–you know, we want to savor it).
What was cool about Debra was that unlike the ass-kicking females of today’s action fantasy cinema, she wasn’t doing it to prove a point about “female empowerment” like they do today, thereby making modern action flicks into not so subtlely emasculating political statements. (Because today’s action “heroines” invariably beat the daylights out of men.) Instead, in 1954, Debra was just showing off her beauty and athleticism and dancing skills, embodying popular pulp fiction fantasies about lusty wenches, wily princesses, and fearless warrior girls, and having a great time while giving the audience a great time.
You can check out the action scenes right on You Tube here. Listen closely for Michael Rennie’s great line right after she finishes dancing: “This wench pleases me!” That’s what I call dialogue!! I love that over-heated, over-the-top stuff, it’s so much fun. Every time I even think of that line, I crack up.
“This wench pleases me!” Best intoned with a British accent! 🙂
Debra Paget retired from the screen in the 1960s, is in her late 70s now, and is involved in Christian evangelism. In my opinion, her movie appearances were definitely early manifestations of her ability to connect with the Divine. And to connect us with it, too. Because I see the evidence of the Divine in such things as dancing girls, indeed I do–as the strippers I’ve known over the years would testify, if I could locate them all to ask! 😉
If you want to learn more about Debra Paget’s career, check out a great site called Luis’ Debra Paget Page here. That’s where I got the shot of Debra dancing. You can find the movie poster here. I don’t work for them; I just saw that they sell the poster.