THE GARDEN OF ALLAH (1936)
Directed by Richard Boleslawski from the novel by Robert Hichens. Outrageously romantic yarn set in the North African desert has apostate Trappist monk Boris Androvsky (Charles Boyer) and socialite Domini (Marlene Dietrich) meet, marry and separate when Boris has pangs of conscience and returns to his monastery. A mad love story with deliriously heavy breathing, solemn looks and pathos throughout. Entirely phony and Hollywood backlot-ish in spirit and in fact, it is nonetheless a major curiosity. Boyer, the European heartbreaker of the period, is his inimitably soulful, tortured persona, but not suave this time. Dietrich is more approachable than, and not vampish as, in most of her other films.
Film was shot in a novel, warm Technicolor process that was a step ahead, won special Oscars for the cameramen and has a quaint beauty today. The color fits well the wonderfully molassy Max Steiner score. So does the huge wardrobe that Dietrich brings -- in two or three small, light suitcases. She is a fashion-plate, a one-woman show of chic who, with this picture, probably launched the turban craze of the 1930s. Lavish, sumptuous, illogical, this is an oddly sexless "Brief Encounter" movie that was widely admired in its day. (Edwin Jahiel)
Monday 28 August 95, 10 am, AMC
Copyright © Edwin Jahiel
Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel