Garden of Allah [1936]

Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer play a pair of lost souls who meet in the desert. She is the sheltered Domini, looking for spiritual enlightenment in the Sahara. He is Boris, a young monk who has abandoned the monastery, wanting to experience the outside world. Together, they fall in love and try to come to terms with their mutual guilt while having a passionate affair. C. Aubrey Smith and Basil Rathbone serve as guides for Domini. John Carradine cameos as a bizarre fortune teller. Unfortunately, even an excellent cast can't save this sandy soaper from itself. Although the Technicolor cinematography is gorgeous, and Dietrich sports a new and more stunning gown for every desert occasion, viewers will find no oasis to quench their thirst. Basically, this is a very early version of Hollywood's "sex and sand" films, so popular in the 1950s--lush, unusual, and ultimately silly. --Mark Savary

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