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The working title of this film was Tahiti. Pre-production news items in Daily Variety indicate the following information about Pagan Love Song: A January 1950 Daily Variety news item notes that Stanley Donen was orignally set to direct the film but was replaced by Robert Alton following Esther William's refusal to appear in the film under Donen's direction. According to the news item, William's objection to Donen stemmed from a dispute that had begun on a previous picture they had made together, although modern sources claim that the dispute between Williams and Donen erupted because of a comment Donen reportedly made in which he stated that Williams had no talent.
Filming was originally set to begin on location in Tahiti in the late summer of 1949 and was to have been a part of M-G-M's ambitious world-wide production program. By late January 1950, M-G-M abandoned its plans to shoot the film in Tahiti, opting instead for several locations on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. M-G-M auditioned The Mary Kaye Trio for the film and announced that Taline Coray was set for a role, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Charles Mauu, who plays "Tavae", was a Tahitian prince in real life. After six weeks of location shooting on Kauai, the production moved to the M-G-M studios in Culver City, where the film was completed.
In 1953, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, a $100,000 plagiarism suit was brought against M-G-M by a woman named Helen Taylor, who alleged that the studio had pirated her ideas for this film and the film Duchess of Idaho. No information has been found regarding the outcome of the suit. Modern sources indicate that screenwriter Ivan Tors contributed to the screenplay, and that Roger Edens and Lela Simone worked as associate producers on the film.
Modern sources relate the following information about the film: In Honolulu, Alton engaged a group of Polynesian musicians to record Tahitian music for the film. Two songs, "Music on the Water" and "Here in Tahiti We Make Love," by Warren and Arthur Freed, were deleted from the film. The film was completed at a cost of $1,906,265 about $400,000 over budget, and grossed more than $3,200,000 in its initial release. The film was one of only two motion pictures directed by Alton, who choreographed several films for M-G-M in the 1940s and 1950s. The highly popular title song, which was composed by Harry Warren and Nacio Herb Brown in 1929, has been recorded by several artists, including Dinah Washington and Glenn Miller.