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Josef von Sternberg
Edward Everett Horton
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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 <email@example.com>
Surreal Tale of Two People in Search of Peace and Happiness
Gorgeous Techicolor production telling the unusual tale of the romance between a woman of strong religious faith and a Trappist monk who has left his monastery, breaking his vows. The film opens at a convent in Europe, where a former student prays - a lonely beauty in black named Domini (Marlene Dietrich). She is advised by the Mother Superior to go to the desert and "find herself", and lose her grief over her father who has recently died. In the train car on the way into the Sahara she sits opposite a very, very troubled man (Charles Boyer) - our former monk. She's soon at a hotel near a palm-treed oasis where she again sees our mysterious troubled man as he is stumped over what to do when confronted by a very seductive dancing girl. Domini becomes friends with him, though knows nothing of his past - romance soon to follow.
This film is sentimental, melodramatic, and different (in a way, almost surreal and even a bit campy) - I found it to be quite fun and entertaining. The photography in this is really interesting - it is full of extreme facial close-ups and beautiful color shots of caravans of horses crossing the desert, silhouetted figures against a sunset sky. Marlene Dietrich gives a nicely done, though restrained, performance here and looks gorgeous. Charles Boyer - not usually one of my favorites - is actually pretty good in this, I think the part sort of suits him and he looks quite young and handsome too. Basil Rathbone is fine here, except given very little to do. Another great orchestral score by Max Steiner helps keep the drama rolling - all in all, a very enjoyable film.
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