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Edward Everett Horton
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Edward G. Robinson,
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Josef von Sternberg
Anna May Wong
Domini, an heiress who has led a cloistered life, visits the North African desert for spiritual renewal. There she meets Boris, recently escaped from a Trappist monastery. Their friendship ripens into love, but he conceals his past from her. Then in a remote oasis, they meet a man who knows his secret. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
North Africa in the 1930's. To a small Arab town on the edge of the Sahara comes a beautiful woman looking for meaning to her life & a handsome Trappist monk fleeing from his crisis of faith. They will meet and passions will be stirred, but not even the Sand Diviner knows if they will find happiness or sorrow, here, in THE GARDEN OF ALLAH.
The plot is pure hokum, but the film is still great fun & beautiful to look at. Marlene Dietrich & Charles Boyer are a superb screen couple. She is, to put it simply, gorgeous, and Boyer gives a most effective, understated performance, letting his sensitive face do much of his acting for him.
The supporting cast is excellent: Basil Rathbone, in a sympathetic role as a Count who loves the desert; Joseph Schildkraut as a friendly, talkative guide (all the "Arabic" he & others speak in the film is pure gibberish); Lucile Watson as a gentle Mother Superior; Alan Marshal as an honorable young French officer; Tilly Losch as a dangerous dancer; Henry Brandon as a comic porter; John Carradine as the mysterious Sand Diviner; and magnificent Sir C. Aubrey Smith as a wise old priest.
Movie mavens will recognize Helen Jerome Eddy as a nun; Marcia Mae Jones & Bonita Granville (peeking over the nun's shoulder) as convent girls; gaunt Nigel De Brulier as a monastery lector; and Ferdinand Gottschalk as a hotel clerk, all uncredited.
Color films of the 1930's are both rare & lovely to look at, and this movie is no exception - the cinematography is as colorful as the desert itself. THE GARDEN OF ALLAH was the first Technicolor film to be shot on location. Yuma, Arizona gave the film makers all the sand dunes they could desire, but contaminated drinking water & 135 degree heat soon had the company in revolt. When the daily rushes showed Boyer's face had burned a bright tomato red, producer David O. Selznick finally gave in. The remainder of the film was shot on a Hollywood sound stage.
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