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Garden of Allah

Marlene Dietrich , Charles Boyer , Richard Boleslawski    DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 39.95
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Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer play a pair of lost souls who meet in the desert. She is the sheltered Domini, looking for spiritual enlightenment in the Sahara. He is Boris, a young monk who has abandoned the monastery, wanting to experience the outside world. Together, they fall in love and try to come to terms with their mutual guilt while having a passionate affair. C. Aubrey Smith and Basil Rathbone serve as guides for Domini. John Carradine cameos as a bizarre fortune teller.

Unfortunately, even an excellent cast can't save this sandy soaper from itself. Although the Technicolor cinematography is gorgeous, and Dietrich sports a new and more stunning gown for every desert occasion, viewers will find no oasis to quench their thirst. Basically, this is a very early version of Hollywood's "sex and sand" films, so popular in the 1950s--lush, unusual, and ultimately silly. --Mark Savary


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
A Trappist monk, who holds the secret of the monastery's excellent liqueur, makes a break for it, bumps into, and falls in love with, Marlene Deitrich, a devout Catholic, who learns the truth of his past from *BASIL RATHBONE* while vacationing in the trackless wastes of the Sahara desert. Will he or won't he return to the monastery, and why?
OMIGOD.
I never allow Political Correctness to get in the way of my enjoyment of a movie. In fact, I'll enjoy a movie to *spite* Political Correctness.
But this is one of the most racist movies I've ever seen. And it is massively inept. You really wonder how the same man who produced GWTW, David Selznick, could have produced this fiasco.
"The Garden of Allah" is unintentionally funny. In scene after scene, Arabs are depicted as being sex-obsessed bafoons. They are also depicted as having the same facial features as Northern Europeans, only with heavy dark make-up. And blue eyes peeking out.
Joseph Schildkraut and John Carridine play Arabs. Oh, okay. Then why not we use Hattie MacDaniel in our next movie to play Pat Nixon. Makes exactly as much sense.
There is a scene where a bunch of Arabs, all in matching white burnooses, are sitting around the desert at night, singing folksongs with some French Foreign Legionairres, and their heads are all moving back and forth to the same beat. One of the funniest scenes I've ever seen. Not meant to be.
In another scene, a "dancer" squats and bends backward, utterly grotesque, an insult to real belly dancing.
AAAAA!!!!
All I kept thinking was, "What would an Arab make of this movie?" Probably they couldn't even watch it, or would watch it in a boiling rage.
But there are other scenes, equally funny, that have nothing to do with Arabs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For Lovers of doomed exotic Romance Oct. 2 2002
Format:DVD
Handsome movie, breathtakingly filmed in color, in fact, one of the first full length films in technicolor.
The image of the dvd edition, is so near perfection that it's difficult to believe that this picture was released in 1936!
The plot is for sure outdated, but nevertheless the story of the doomed love affair between convent-educated Domini Enfilden and russian Boris Androvsky, a tormented trappist monk, who's just fled from his monastery, set against the beautiful background scenery of the desert, is enjoyable due to its aforementioned technical qualities and the "continental"appeal of both stars, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer.
Although Dietrich looks stylish and alluring as Domini Enfilden, I feel she never looked as good again, as in her early '30s black & white Paramount films, directed by Von Sternberg. Boyer is effective as the troubled monk, who wants a taste of the "outside world".
Excellent support by Basil Rathbone, Joseph Schildkraut and C. Aubrey Smith, plus a spectacular exotic arab dance sequence by then newcomer, Tilly Losch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A DIETRICH CURIOUSITY. Aug. 26 2002
Format:VHS Tape
An unusual film which will appeal to some for that very reason. The production values were obviously first-rate: the photography, musical score and direction are fine while the plot and characterisations are fairly rich and deep. As Domini, Dietrich is all nobility here. Seeking a spiritual rest after caring for her dying father, her advisor tells her to seek peace in the Algerian desert where she meets a trappist monk - who has broken his vows - in the person of Charles Boyer...This film wasn't one of Marlene's personal favourites: she thought the dialogue was in parts ridiculous - i.e. having to say such lines as "Nobody but God and I know what is in my heart" during a romantic interlude with Boyer. "The conceit of it! I tell you I very nearly died"! was her remark. Based upon the 1904 novel by Robert Hitchens, this curious film was shot on location near Yuma, Arizona. The film was sensitively directed by Richard Boleslawski and the still - gorgeous colour cinematography won an AA for Howard Greene.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AT LONG LAST! ! AS BEAUTIFUL AS IT IS SILLY!! Jan. 5 2001
Format:VHS Tape
About the third film made in full Technicolor, like most of David O. Selznick's early color films, this was only available in a mediocre VHS release (from the old Magnetic Video Company in about 1984!) which I recently hunted down on ebay, resigning myself to thinking that it would never be properly presented on video. Even that version showed it's incredible beauty. The new DVD is beyond anyone's wildest dreams as a document of how Technicolor originally looked and FELT. The over-ripeness of the material hardly matters as one breathtaking image follows another. The source material for this release isn't listed, but looks very close to have been newly mastered from the original nitrate negative. I'm going to take a look at Anchor Bay's new release of the "roadshow" version of DUEL IN THE SUN to see if it, too, is vastly improved over older video versions. Now, if whomever is in possession of the original Technicolor negatives of the 1937 A STAR IS BORN (Warner's perhaps?---the trailer included on the DVD of the 1954 version is STUNNING!), NOTHING SACRED and THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER could get it together, the important Technicolor output of Selznick International prior to GONE WITH THE WIND could be properly seen for the first time in over 60 years...hope springs eternal!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Un vrai torchon !
Marlene Dietrich est excellente comme toujours amsi pas le scénario malheureusement. L'histoire d'un frère qui quitte le couvent pour se marier ensuite avec une... Read more
Published 20 months ago by David
4.0 out of 5 stars warning about 'movie_village' marketplace seller
hello all,

this is a warning to anyone considering buying this used. i ordered it from a marketplace seller called 'movie_village' ...... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2009 by Paul Shikata
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully reserved.
I have a review from a movie magazine at the time of this films coming out with a drawing of Marlene as the Egyptian sphinx. Read more
Published on March 16 2002 by R. Varner
3.0 out of 5 stars Boleslawski's Bizarre Kitsch Masterpiece
This 1936 chic flick is a strange, moody, lush, sometimes silly but always fascinating romance set in Algiers starring the great screen icons Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by Robin Simmons
4.0 out of 5 stars Wavishing! Womantic! Wisible!
A Technicolor fever dream of a movie, GARDEN OF ALLAH is a guilty pleasure par excellence. Any dramatic tension that depends on the burning passion of Boyer and Dietrich is doomed... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2001 by Randy Buck
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic is Reborn
Producer David O. Selznick let the viewer know from the beginning of his films that they were "in the tradition of quality" from the colonial-like logo at the beginning... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2000 by James D'Arc
4.0 out of 5 stars ...so handsomely mounted it hardly matters.....
"The Garden of Allah" is probably the second or third feature film made in 3-strip Technicolor. It is Selznick's and Dietrich's first color film. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars A great romance
Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer star in THE GARDEN OF ALLAH, a tale of forbidden love and passion in the Algerian desert. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2000 by Byron Kolln
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