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>
Much abuse has been heaped upon this film in users' comments here ("tripe," "hokum," etc.) and, yes, in later years even Marlene herself called it "twash," (along with most of the rest of her movies). But it's gweat twash and, in all fairness, much-loved weepies like "An Affair To Remember" have got nothing on this picture. The fabulousness (that's definitions 1 & 2 in Webster's) of the plot, the emphatic performances, the overblown dialogue and the sheer absurd audacity of full silver service and "dressing for dinner" in a tent in the middle of the Sahara; these are the very things for which you watch such a film. After all, if life was never like this anywhere, at any time, it sure should have been.
The user who suggested the "right mood" is necessary is absolutely correct, and it helps to remember the perspective of audiences of the time who, while the Depression dragged on, desired escapism that bore no resemblance to their real lives. We certainly have our escapist fare today and, believe me, "Spiderman," "The Matrix" and "The Fast and the Furious" are going to look at least as ridiculous - if not more so - after a half-century (if not before). So, please, let's not have any more carping about implausibility.
The aspects that have garnered the most criticism are some of the very elements that make it so much fun, but you must abandon your jaded cynicism and surrender yourself to the experience. I'd never recommend this film to everyone I know, but of those to whom I have done - people I knew could appreciate it - not one has gotten all the way through it without choking back a tear or two (if not outright bawling like a baby).
One thing everyone does seem to agree on is the ravishingly beautiful look of this picture, and they're oh-so-right about that. The DVD from Anchor Bay is particularly stunning - there are scenes that look like they were shot yesterday - so, if you decide to see the film, try to get your hands on a copy of that release.
Incidentally, this was not the first Technicolor picture in the three-strip process (as opposed to the two-strip, which goes back to 1922) shot on location, as one comment said. That honor most likely belongs to "Trail Of the Lonesome Pine," which was shot and released a few months earlier.
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