- Actors: Marlene Dietrich, Charles Boyer, Tilly Losch, Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith
- Directors: Richard Boleslawski
- Writers: Lynn Riggs, Robert Hichens, W.P. Lipscomb, Willis Goldbeck
- Producers: David O. Selznick
- Format: NTSC, Import
- Language: English
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
- Release Date: Nov. 28 2000
- Run Time: 79 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00004Y6AM
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Garden of Allah [Import]
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. Marlene Deitrich goes to a European convent to get advice on what to do with her life. She's dressed, OF COURSE, to the nines. She couldn't survive more than a mile away from a 24-hour source of silk stockings. This is a woman whose greatest trek would be from the backseat of a limo to the front door of a nightclub.
So this nun, a propos de rien, says, "Why don't you go out into the desert?" Yeah, right! Nuns always say that to women who go to them for advice!
And ... Basil Rathbone. Need I say more? Basil Rathbone in a bright red robe -- thrown over a houndstooth check wool jacket -- wandering around the Sahara, trying to look at home? I don't think so.
AND THEN you get an hour into this unintentional laugh-fest and there comes the scene where Boyer has to explain to Deitrich why he left the monastery, and Boyer is so fantastic in this scene, so genuinely, deeply moving, when he's finally given a chance, by this movie, to act, and given a chance, by this script, to say something coherent, and it's one of the most moving moments that the movies have produced on the matters of faith in God, and worldliness, and sex, and eroticism, and love. Really. It's that good -- good enough to sit through an hour of inept movie-making just to see it, and place in it context. Check it out.
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.
this is a warning to anyone considering buying this used. i ordered it from a marketplace seller called 'movie_village' ...... and they sent me the MGM version. after i complained, they apologized and said they didn't have the 'anchor bay' version to send me.
i received a refund, but only after having to mail it back to them AT MY EXPENSE.
that was in the summer of 2008.
it's feb 2009 and they are STILL claiming to have the 'anchor bay' version to sell.
don't waste your time, or at least send them an email to make sure they REALLY have it, before ordering it.
EDIT - feb 2009 --------
Take it from some one who has now seen both the mgm AND anchor bay versions of this film/dvd.
THE version to get is the Anchor Bay. The 3 strip technicolor print they used to make the dvd transfer with is GORGEOUS, and even though the mgm is 'acceptable' it is NOTHING compared to this version.
you'd NEVER believe this film was made in 1936.
a testament to the quality and longevity of films photographed in 3 strip technicolor.
other such marvelous films and associated transfers ....
special editions of 'gone with the wind', 'singing in the rain', "an american in paris', 'the adventures of robin hood', 'meet me in st.louis', and 'the wizard of oz' ..... make sure and get the versions that have undergone the warner bros. patented 'ultra resolution' restoration (for 3 strip technicolor films)
there's STILL nothing like 'technicolor' colour !
This particular film is rather dated, but it is still quite amusing, and in it's own way, absolutely breathtaking !