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|
|Directed by||Richard Boleslawski|
|Produced by||David O. Selznick|
|Written by||William P. Lipscomb|
|Based on||The Garden of Allah|
by Robert S. Hichens
C. Aubrey Smith
|Music by||Max Steiner|
W. Howard Greene (uncredited)
Harold Rosson (uncredited)
|Edited by||Hal C. Kern|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
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.
- Marlene Dietrich as Domini Enfilden
- Charles Boyer as Boris Androvski
- Basil Rathbone as Count Ferdinand Anteoni
- C. Aubrey Smith as Father J. Roubier
- Joseph Schildkraut as Batouch
- John Carradine as the "Sand Diviner"
- Alan Marshal as Captain de Trevignac
- Lucile Watson as Mother Superior Josephine
- Henry Brandon as Hadj
- Tilly Losch as Irena
- Irene Franklin as female American tourist
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.
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.