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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Garden of Allah [Blu-ray]


(Richard Boleslawski, 1936)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Selznick International Pictures

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:19:00.652

Disc Size: 21,129,523,544 bytes

Feature Size: 18,597,126,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.12 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 9th, 2018



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1558 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1558 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, None








Description: No Man Can Resist Her! Screen legends Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel) and Charles Boyer (Gaslight) achieve the finest performances of their careers, as they taste forbidden fruit under the seductive, blazing skies of the Sahara. Featuring a sumptuous score by composer Max Steiner (The Fountainhead), this sweeping epic of passionate romance is one of the most beautiful and atmospherically compelling pictures ever made. After the death of her father, convent-educated Domini Enfilden (Deitrich) heads for the desert seeking peace. But instead of tranquility, the sultry beauty finds passion in the arms of Boris Androvsky (Boyer) - secretly a Trappist monk who has broken his vows and lost his faith. Will Domini discover Boris' secret, and will his hidden past destroy their future happiness? Richard Boleslawski (Theodora Goes Wild) directed this David O. Selznick (Duel in the Sun) classic co-starring Basil Rathbone (The Mark of Zorro) and C. Aubrey Smith (The Hurricane).



The Film:

Marlene Dietrich's first Technicolor film is, in the simplest terms, beautiful.

The Garden of Allah follows Domini (Dietrich), who is lonesome after the death of her beloved father. In order to bring some change into her life, she heads off to the desert. At the same time, Boris (Charles Boyer), a Trappist monk, has decided to break his vows of silence and escape to the same destination. It is at the oasis that they meet, fall in love and get married.

Boyer plays the tortured soul with distinction. His dark European looks bode well with his character, as he struggles to throw off religion and keep the secret of his past from his new bride.

Excerpt from EyeForFilm located HERE

The Garden of Allah was based on a popular novel by Robert Hichens and had already been filmed twice before as a silent picture in 1916 and 1927. While still at MGM, Selznick envisioned Greta Garbo in the role of Domini, a devout woman who unknowingly falls in love with a Trappist monk who has fled his order in a crisis of faith. When Selznick left MGM and founded his own production company, Selznick International Pictures, he bought the rights to the story for $62,000. By then he had hired actress Merle Oberon to play Domini, but he ended up paying her $25,000 to cancel her contract since he didn't feel she had enough box-office draw. Selznick replaced her with Marlene Dietrich, on loan from Paramount, who still had box-office appeal despite a string of recent disappointments. Selznick paid her $200,000 and hired debonair French actor Charles Boyer to play the tortured monk, Boris Androvsky.

Selznick remained at his office in Culver City, California, while he sent the cast and crew to a remote part of the Arizona desert known as Buttercup Valley to begin shooting. He was well aware of Dietrich's reputation as a diva, and tried to put director Boleslawski's mind at ease about working with her. He assured him that he had talked to Dietrich about how high the picture's budget was and how "it was up to her to keep it from going higher." Selznick also cautioned Dietrich about her behavior, and she promised pure professionalism. In a memo to Boleslawski dated April 14, 1936, Selznick advised him to "go right ahead as though you were directing some newcomer, and not worry about any legend of Dietrich difficulties."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Garden of Allah looks better than I anticipated in 1080P. This early Technicolor holds up without excessive bleeding or sharp variations (after the first few minutes) in the palette. These films have their own 'look' and it's appealing when not misaligned. Some blues/purples and reds/maroons are impressive in the HD transfer that has a supportive bitrate. There are some color flecks but not much in terms of scratches or damage. The source must have been in decent shape. Its texture-thick and has a natural softness. I though this Blu-ray picture quality was very good all things considered.




















Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1558 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language with some Farsi. There are only a few aggressive effects (horses etc.) in the film but the audio is notable for the iconic Max Steiner's (Since You Went Away, Sergeant York, Key Largo, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, Bird of Paradise, Beyond the Forest, Pursued etc. etc.) sweeping score that sounds dramatic suiting the vast desert visuals. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Just 5 trailers - none for the film.



The Garden of Allah is a beautiful, vintage, film. Great leads with a Selznick-esque romance buried in the rich, epic, atmosphere. It's such a visual experience with Dietrich the perfect lead. The bare-bones Kino Lorber
Blu-ray is a great way to see this in your home theater. A commentary would have been a great addition, though but I was thoroughly entertained by the film. Recommended!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 33% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

January 3rd, 2018



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