The Garden of Allah (1936 film)

The Garden of Allah is a 1936 American adventure drama romance film directed by Richard Boleslawski and produced by David O. Selznick. The screenplay was written by William P. Lipscomb and Lynn Riggs, who based it on the 1905 novel by Robert S. Hichens. Hichens's novel had been filmed twice before, as silent films made in 1916 and 1927. This sound version stars Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer with Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Joseph Schildkraut, John Carradine, Alan Marshal, and Lucile Watson. The music score is by Max Steiner.

The Garden of Allah
1936 US Theatrical Poster
Directed byRichard Boleslawski
Produced byDavid O. Selznick
Written byWilliam P. Lipscomb
Lynn Riggs
Willis Goldbeck
Based onThe Garden of Allah
1904 novel
by Robert S. Hichens
StarringMarlene Dietrich
Charles Boyer
Basil Rathbone
C. Aubrey Smith
Joseph Schildkraut
John Carradine
Alan Marshal
Lucile Watson
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyVirgil Miller
W. Howard Greene (uncredited)
Harold Rosson (uncredited)
Edited byHal C. Kern
Anson Stevenson
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 19, 1936 (1936-11-19)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States

It was the third feature film to be photographed in Three-strip Technicolor, and (uncredited) cinematographers W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson received a special Oscar for advances in color cinematography. The filming locations were in Buttercup, California and Yuma, Arizona.


Trappist monk Boris Androvski (Charles Boyer) feels enormous pressure at having to keep his vows as a monk, so he flees his monastery. Yet he is the only one who knows the secret recipe of "Lagarnine", the monastery's famous liqueur, a recipe passed down from one generation of monks to another. Meanwhile, heiress Domini Enfilden (Marlene Dietrich) is newly freed from her own prison of caring for her just-deceased father and also seeks the exotic open spaces of the North African desert to nurture her soul.

Androvski and Domini meet, fall in love, and are married by the local priest, after which the newlyweds are whisked off into the scorching desert – a trip that the local sand diviner has forecast will bring happiness and a bad end. Domini is unaware of Androvski's past as a monk.

When a lost patrol of French legionnaires finds its way into camp, one of their number recognizes the liqueur he is served. Boris's true identity is revealed. But not until he is rejected by his wife for breaking his final vows to God to live as a monk does Boris decide to return to the monastery, parting from his wife.



The film was originally budgeted at $1.6 million but this went over by an estimated $370,000, which ended up being roughly the size of the loss the film recorded.[1]

The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Score and Best Assistant Director, and W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson received an Honorary Academy Award for the color cinematography.

Following the success of the movie in Brazilian cinemas, in Rio de Janeiro the park between the beach neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema, i.e. Jardim de Alah, was named after the movie.

The film is watched by Cyndi Lauper in the beginning of her music video for "Time after Time."

See also


  1. David Thomson, Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, Abacus, 1993 p 230
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