………You’ll hear me say from time to time what a shame a film ( usually a musical or a western) wasn’t in color. Technicolor was available in Hollywood in the 1930s, but only used sparingly.
I recently watched The Garden Of Allah for the first time. What a feast for the eye.And showing that Technicolor in the early 1930s was already perfected. I’m not sure why it wasn’t used more – cost and lack of Technicolor cameras I’ve read.
I think this film would be even more admired , but it was let down by a script which really didn’t amount to much. Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer trying to ‘find themselves’ in the African desert. Marlene, an heiress who has led a sheltered life, Boyer, a Trappist monk with a crisis of faith.
A terrific supporting cast including a sympathetic Basil Rathbone (that didn’t happen often!), the wonderful Joseph Schildkraut as an Arab guide, John Carradine, Sir C. Aubrey Smith (and a young Marcia Mae Jones and Bonita Granville.)
Filmed partly in Yuma, Arizona by Selznick International Pictures, the visuals ( including an incredible costume range for Marlene) are everything- including many stunning close -ups of Marlene.
But in the end, I didn’t actually get to the end! It was so grindingly slow with so little action.
The film won a special Oscar for color cinematography, and Max Steiner was nominated for his music score.
Not much smiling from the two stars in the film.
The film’s director was Richard Boleslawski (1899-1937) who sadly died of a heart attack during the filming of THE LAST OF MRS.CHEYNEY (1937). Born in Poland, he came to Hollywood in 1929 and directed THE PAINTED VEIL, LES MISERABLES, CLIVE OF INDIA, THEODORA GOES WILD.
THE GARDEN OF ALLAH HOTEL:
The famed hotel on Sunset Boulevard was originally a private residence bought by silent star Alla Nazimova (1879-1945) in 1919 and converted it into a hotel in 1927 (the star then sold it in 1930 ).
Containing private bungalows, the hotel became very popular with Hollywood stars , but by 1959 the hotel was demolished.
Based on a 1904 novel by English writer Robert Hichens, there were two silent versions of the novel, in 1916 and 1927.
Robert Hichens also wrote The Paradine Case in 1933 .Hitchcock made the film version in 1947.
“The Garden of Allah”, according to IMDB , was the third feature made in color – after BECKY SHARP(1935) and DANCING PIRATE (1936).
During the 1930s several films, like THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE, LA CUCARACHA had color sequences.
In 1939 there were 13 three-strip Technicolor films; 15 in 1940 and 19 in 1941 – very small percentages of all films released.