In looking through the blog's site traffic, I saw that I got a couple of referrals from the blog Via Margutta 51. Being relatively lazy, I had never heard of the blog before, but the posts I read look interesting and well-written, especially considering that blogger Clara is writing in her second language. (Maybe I should blog about something in German, but the one time I tried titling a blog post in German, I got the verb wrong: note the verb in the link, and how I had to edit the title of the post.)
That having been said, I'm going to have to disagree slightly with her views on The Garden of Allah, which was the subject of her most recent post. It's somewhat odd that I'm defening a movie that's not one of my favorites, I think Clara's reviewis a bit too harsh. Her first criticism reads,
And you learn all this in the very first minutes. Really. Zero mystery.
Yet, this is the same technique used in some of the great noirs. If you consider Leave Her to Heaven, we know at the beginning that Cornel Wilde's character just got out of jail, and we know that Gene Tierney bore a lot of responsibility for Wilde's getting into jail. Fade to flashback, and the meeting of the two which just happens to be on a train as well. By the same token, we know from the beginning of Double Indemnity that Fred MacMurray is going to get shot, and from the beginning of Sunset Blvd. that Bill Holden is going to get the swimming pool he always wanted, the dope.
The big problem I have with The Garden of Allah is the things that make it a chick flick: it's just too melodramatic, and presented as too much of a tear-jerker, for somebody like me to enjoy as much as I should. (Of course, I'm the man who laughs at the funeral in Imitation of Life.) But the theme of Charles Boyer's character having an obligation to strangers and not just the people he wants to love is something that's quite similar to Deborah Kerr's moral crisis in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. (The latter movie probably works better because having a nun instead of a monk allows for the other character in the romance to be a rough man.) Also, going back to the people one is more fit for is a theme that comes up in Two For the Seesaw, which would probably be a better movie if Robert Mitchum hadn't been miscast.
But Dietrich and Boyer both put in good performances, and the Technicolor is gorgeous. I can see why somebody would keep mentioning the Technicolor.