‘Be Mine…or Not…’

Well Rochellelynn I am taking you up on the challenge stated in your ‘Be Mine…Classic Hollywood’ Post. I don’t have a list but I have a movie that I had never seen before last month, not even a teeny tiny clip.  I am not a Marlene Dietrich nor Charles Boyer fan but I took a chance and watched the 1936 version of, ‘The Garden of Allah’.  It was the ‘Max Steiner’ music score that drew me to this picture. Then it was the opening scene when David O. Selznick’s name appears on screen while the credit’s rolled and if there wasn’t a camel and Bedouin in the background of a red sunset sky I would have sworn it was a clip from ‘Gone with the Wind’. Then it was how they introduced the story thru the minor characters. First, it was at the Convent through a conversation between a nun and some school girls (Marsha Mae Jones).  Then the Mother Superior (Lucille Watson, I kept waiting for her to be nasty) advises Dietrich to visit the desert after listening to her ask for solace and advice as she seeks the meaning to her life. Then at a monastery a few hours from the desert where a trappist monk has run away also seeking the meaning to his life. A lot of my favorite character actors are in this film. C Aubrey Smith, Joseph Schildkraut, Alan Marshal, John Carradine, Basil Rathbone. Basil delivers the two lines in the movie that simplify the meaning of the story;  ‘A Man who fears to acknowledge his God is unwise to set foot in the desert’ and  ‘The Arabs have a saying Madame; ‘the desert is the Garden of Allah’. In 1936, this movie was nominated for an Academy award for its Musical Score-Max Steiner; it was also the first time to acknowledge the use of color in a film. W. Howard Greene & Harold Rosson received a Special Award Plaque for Color Cinematography for ‘the Garden of Allah’. It was also the first year that supporting actors were acknowledged for their performances.   Bonita Granville whose appearance in ‘Garden’ though brief (in the convent with Marsha),  she was able to show her acting abilities in another memorable movie made in 1936, ‘These Three’ in which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her performance  in which she terrorizes fellow co-star Marsha Mae Jones. Unlike ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ where there was at least a glimmer of hope for the couple, there wasn’t even a gleam of happiness for the excellently acted star-crossed couple at the end of the 1936 version of ‘The Garden of Allah’, (this was post code here) however the parting words from Dietrich to Boyer ‘You will be with me always’ took on a new hidden meaning for me after I read the synopsis from the 1927 MGM version (pre-code) which left at least a small expectation for at least a  bittersweet type of  ending… instead of the ‘No hope at all’ ending of the 1936 version. Those Post Pre-Code classichollywood writers were the greatest I should have known they would have left a clue.  Now I need to see the 1927 version, maybe by next Valentine’s Day…

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