The Garden of Allah (1936)

Approved   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Romance

The Garden of Allah (1936) Poster

The star-crossed desert romance of a cloistered woman and a renegade monk.


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26 August 2005 | drednm
| The Bottomless Trunk of Clothes!
Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer give solid performances in this beautiful but empty film. The irony is that Dietrich plays a woman with a beautiful but empty life. Truly gorgeous cinematography and sets, and yes Dietrich's bottomless trunk of clothes are also fabulous. She look great; Boyer looks young and trim.

Story of a woman seeking meaning and an ex-priest seeking life seems pretty stale, but set against such unreal sets and skies it somehow works, given the two stars, the terrific score by Max Steiner, and a good supporting cast. The film runs like 76 minutes and seems badly edited, plus certain characters just appear or disappear.

Joseph Schildkraut is funny as the Arab guide, C. Aubrey Smith is the old priest, Lucile Watson the mother superior, Tilly Losch the dancer, John Carradine the diviner, and Basil Rathbone plays.... well I'm not sure. He just rides in from the desert and spoils everything! As others have noted, John Gilbert was slated to star with Dietrich. I can't help but think he would have been wonderful. The role of world-weary Boris would have suited the great Gilbert quite well. And after the success of Queen Christina (with Garbo), his career might have gotten back on track.

I can't think of any other 30s film Dietrich did in color. She looks great and wears some terrific clothes. My favorite is the Valentino as The Shiek-like outfit she wears by the pool.

Certainly worth a look for the lush sets and color and the two great stars.

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