The Garden of Allah (1936 film)

The Garden of Allah is a 1936 American adventure drama romance film directed by Richard Boleslawski, produced by David O. Selznick, and starring Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer. The screenplay was written by William P. Lipscomb and Lynn Riggs, who based it on the 1904 novel of the same title by Robert S. Hichens. Hichens's novel had been filmed twice before, as silent films made in 1916 and 1927. The supporting cast of the sound version features Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Joseph Schildkraut, John Carradine, Alan Marshal, and Lucile Watson. The music score is by Max Steiner.

The Garden of Allah
The Garden of Allah 1936 poster.jpg
1936 US Theatrical Poster
Directed byRichard Boleslawski
Produced byDavid O. Selznick
Written byWilliam P. Lipscomb
Lynn Riggs
Willis Goldbeck
Based onThe Garden of Allah
1904 novel
by Robert S. Hichens
StarringMarlene Dietrich
Charles Boyer
Basil Rathbone
C. Aubrey Smith
Joseph Schildkraut
John Carradine
Alan Marshal
Lucile Watson
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyVirgil Miller
W. Howard Greene (uncredited)
Harold Rosson (uncredited)
Edited byHal C. Kern
Anson Stevenson
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 19, 1936 (1936-11-19)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States

It was the third feature film to be photographed in Three-strip Technicolor, and (uncredited) cinematographers W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson received a special Oscar for advances in color cinematography. The filming locations were in Buttercup, California and Yuma, Arizona.


Trappist monk Boris Androvski (Charles Boyer) feels enormous pressure at having to keep his vows as a monk, so he flees his monastery. Yet he is the only one who knows the secret recipe of "Lagarnine", the monastery's famous liqueur, a recipe passed down from one generation of monks to another. Meanwhile, heiress Domini Enfilden (Marlene Dietrich) is newly freed from her own prison of caring for her just-deceased father and also seeks the exotic open spaces of the North African desert to nurture her soul.

Androvski and Domini meet, fall in love, and are married by the local priest, after which the newlyweds are whisked off into the scorching desert – a trip that the local sand diviner has forecast will bring happiness and a bad end. Domini is unaware of Androvski's past as a monk.

When a lost patrol of French legionnaires finds its way into camp, one of their number recognizes the liqueur he is served. Boris's true identity is revealed. But not until he is rejected by his wife for breaking his final vows to God to live as a monk does Boris decide to return to the monastery, parting from his wife.



The film was originally budgeted at $1.6 million but this went over by an estimated $370,000, which ended up being roughly the size of the loss the film recorded.[1]

Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a neutral review, adopting the New Statesman summary wholesale as "shabby priests counting pesetas on their fingers in dingy cafés before blessing tanks". Greene praised the surrealism of the film as "really magnificent", and noted that the dialogue had a distinctly apocalyptic tone closely matched by Dietrich's delivery of her lines.[2]

The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Score and Best Assistant Director, and W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson received an Special Award for the color cinematography.

Following the success of the movie in Brazilian cinemas, in Rio de Janeiro the park between the beach neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema, i.e. Jardim de Alah, was named after the movie.

The film is watched by Cyndi Lauper in the beginning of her music video for "Time after Time."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ David Thomson, Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, Abacus, 1993 p 230
  2. ^ Greene, Graham (25 December 1936). "The Garden of Allah". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. pp. 125-126, 128-129. ISBN 0192812866.)

External linksEdit