At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH (KINO/LORBER)

By • Jan 4th, 2018 •

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BluRay review by Roy Frumkes

This is magnificent, early 3-strip Technicolor.  Marlene Dietrich had been doing all those fetishistic flicks for Joseph Von Sternberg, all of them outrageous and still compelling today. But everyone must have been wondering what she would look like in color.  Well, director Boleslawski keeps the fetish going.  These are some of the greatest close-ups ever recorded, and they just keep coming throughout the film’s 79 minutes.  The DVD was quite lovely, but the BluRay edges it out.  And if you can appreciate color as style over content, then your collection is begging for this addition.

Don’t, however, expect Von Sternberg’s gift with actors.  The script is weak and the actors are not given much to do, in particular Charles Boyer as a depressive monk on the run from a monastery who flips over Dietrich, who herself is at a crossroads. But there is one more spectacular thing to highly recommend – the dance/performance of Tilly Losch, an Austrian born Dancer/actress/painter who hung out with the likes of Lotte Lenya, Max Reinhardt and Kurt Weill. You can’t take your eyes off her in an exotic dance performance that seems to exist outside the film’s narrative, and she comes back ten years later to give you more of the same in DUEL IN THE SUN, another retina-melting use of Technicolor. Somewhere in her looks and makeup she has a Jennifer Jones thing going, and I wonder if Selznick was taken with her?  Whatever the truth, it’s a good thing he used her.  She had precious few other film appearances.

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