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2. Complete technical credits,
3. Copyright and release information, plus running times.
4. A brief synopsis.
4. Extensive background notes, including awards, nominations and recipients.
5. Comments and reviews.
The following review by Gillian Button, entitled "One for the Film Buffs", appeared in the Cumberland "Times" on June 30, 1990, shortly after "Award-Winning Films of the 1930s" was first published in England.
A film critic since the early 1960s, John Howard Reid spent most of the decade writing articles, interviews and reviews for French movie periodicals including Cahiers du Cinema, Presence du Cinema and Cinema d'Aujourd'hui.
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Mathematicians will argue that the term, 1930s, applies to the years 1931 through 1940. The author, however, has taken the popular view that the decade extends from 1930 through 1939. As a special bonus, however, he has also included the award-winners of 1927, 1928 and 1929! So what we have here is not only a comprehensive but an unusually complete account of all the generally released movies that won awards presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1927 through 1939. Unlike other books that cover this topic, this book includes ALL the award-winning feature films, not just the main winners. Most books on this topic, even those who claim to be "complete", always exclude those films associated with honorary award winners such as Judy Garland ("Babes in Arms"), Mickey Rooney ("Hold That Kiss" and "Judge Hardy's Children"), Edgar Bergen ("The Goldwyn Follies"), Shirley Temple ("Baby Take a Bow" and "Bright Eyes"), Charles Chaplin ("The Circus"), etc. Yet these awards were not given lightly or surreptitiously, but were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors. Their recipients have every right to be honored, praised and remembered for their achievements as have the winners of awards that were voted by the members.
Arranged alphabetically for easy reference, all the honored and award-winning movies from 1927 through 1939 are here, complete with:
1. Full cast lists.
As a freelance writer, living near London's famous Pinewood studios, Reid interviewed many of the period's prominent actors and directors including George Raft, Clifton Webb, William Holden, Richard Widmark, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, William Bendix, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, John Farrow, Anthony Asquith, Roy Baker, Leo McCarey, Richard Thorpe, George Cukor, Robert Siodmak, Joseph Losey, Anthony Mann and Otto Preminger.
"Award-Winning Films of the 1930s" is John Howard Reid's third film anthology, following "Memorable Films of the Forties" and "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s". Unlike the films discussed in the earlier books, all the movies in "Award-Winning Films of the 1930s" won one or more of the annual awards presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, California. Films such as "Gone With the Wind", "The Wizard of Oz", "Grand Hotel", "San Francisco", "The Garden of Allah", "Lost Horizon", "It Happened One Night", "Broadway Melody", "The Hurricane", "Goodbye Mr Chips", "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", "Cleopatra", "Kentucky", "Naughty Marietta", "A Damsel in Distress", "Gold Diggers of 1935", "The Awful Truth" and "In Old Chicago".
"Award-Winning Films of the 1930s" is a useful handbook for those interested in movie facts, credits, reviews and trivia.
the GARDEN OF ALLAH
Marlene Dietrich (Domini Enfilden), Charles Boyer (Boris Androvsky), Basil Rathbone (Count Anteoni), C. Aubrey Smith (Father Roubier), Joseph Schildkraut (Batouch), John Carradine (sand diviner), Tilly Losch (Irena), Alan Marshal (De Trevignac), Lucile Watson (mother superior), Henry Brandon (Hadj), Helen Jerome Eddy (nun with convent girls), Charles Waldron (abbé), John Bryan (Brother Gregory), Bonita Granville, Marcia Mae Jones, Betty Jane Graham, Ann Gillis (convent girls), Ferdinand Gottschalk (hotel clerk), David Scott (Larby), Andrew McKenna (mueddin), Eric Alden (Anteoni’s lieutenant), Leonid Kinsky (voluble Arab), Barry Downing (little Boris), Russell Powell (Ouled Nails proprietor), Jane Kerr (Ouled Nails madam), Harlan Briggs (American tourist), Irene Franklin (tourist’s wife), Louis Mercier, Marcel de la Brosse, Robert Stevenson (De Trevignac’s patrol), Michael Mark (coachman), Nigel de Brulier (lector), Pedro de Cordoba (gardener), Adrian Rosely (Mustapha), Robert Frazer (Smain), Marion Sayers, Betty Van Auken, Edna Harris, Frances Turnham (exotic dancers), Louis Alez (blind singer), Maria Riva (woman), Frank Puglia (man), Henry Kleinbach (man), Ann Bupp (girl), and “Corky” (Bous-Bous).
Director: RICHARD BOLESLAWSKI. Adapted by W. P. Lipscomb and Lynn Riggs from the 1904 novel by Robert Hichens. Photography: Harold Rosson and W. Howard Greene. Color by Technicolor. Film editor: Hal C. Kern. Assistant film editor: Anson Stevenson. Music: Max Steiner. Production designer: Lansing C. Holden. Art directors: Sturges Carne and Lyle Wheeler. Set decorator: Edward G. Boyle. Costumes: Ernest Dryden. Special effects: Jack Cosgrove. Construction foreman: Harold Fenton. Technicolor color consultant: Natalie Kalmus. 2nd unit director: John Waters. Assistant director: Eric Stacey. Production manager: Raymond Klune. Assistant to the producer: Willis Goldbeck. Uncredited script contributor: Willis Goldbeck. Additional photography: Virgil Miller. Make-up: Sam Kaufman. Props: Irving W. Sindler. Special effects photography: Clarence Slifer. Wardrobe: Bill Bowman. Music orchestrations: R.H. Bassett, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernhard Kaun, George Parrish, Edward B. Powell. Camera operators: Wilfrid M. Cline, Robert Carney. Assistant cameraman: Nelson Cordes. Costume maker: Jeanette Couget. Electricans: Morris Rosen, Oran McPherson. Grips: Frank Leavitt, Don Dickey. 2nd assistant director: Chauncy Pyle. Dialogue director: Joshua Logan. Sound engineer: T.A. Carman. Sound recording: Earl A. Wolcott. RCA Victor Sound System. Producer: David O. Selznick.
Copyright 11 November 1936 by Selznick International Pictures, Inc. Released through United Artists. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall, 19 November 1936 (ran 2 weeks). U.K. release: December 1936. 9 reels. 85 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: The beginning of the novel has been slightly changed. Hichens writes of Domini’s father: “When Lord Rens died, still blaspheming, and without any of the consolations of religion, Domini felt the imperious need of change . . . Lord Rens had come to regard his daughter almost with enmity in his enmity against her mother’s religion, which was hers . . . Domini remained a Catholic, but she gradually ceased from being a devout one.” This is somewhat removed from the screenplay’s atrocious opening scene in a goody two-shoes convent. It’s not so bad that Domini’s character has been modified (in obvious defence to the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church), but that the scene is written with such embarrassing clumsiness. Another invented scene follows — not quite so determinedly pedestrian — in which the groundwork is laid for Boyer’s desertion. After this we move straight into the Hichens novel, following all the detail of its plot and incidents closely (and even much of its dialogue) to the finish. (The novel ends with a short epilogue — scarcely more than a page in length — which was actually filmed but subsequently deleted from release prints. Barry Downing played little Boris.)
NOTES: Although he wrote many later novels (including The Paradine Case which was also filmed by Selznick), Robert Smythe Hichens (1864-1950) never equalled the success of his early The Garden of Allah which sold a staggering 800,000 copies in its initial hardcover editions (and is probably still in print. My edition is dated 1971). A well-written book with much accurate, closely-observed detail (too much in fact for modern tastes), it offers not only a grandly romantic story of love and mystery set against a fascinatingly unusual yet breathtakingly picturesque background, but meticulously describes the inner rewards and setbacks of an idealised heroine’s self-imposed search for peace, love, fulfillment. “Idly she fancied that perhaps in the sunny solitude of Beni-Mora, far from all the friends and reminiscences of her old life, she might learn to understand herself . . . She was leaving behind the sea, so many of whose waves wept along European shores. Somewhere beyond lay the great desert, her destination, with its pale sands and desolate cities, its sunburnt tribes of workers, its robbers, warriors and priests, its ethereal mysteries of mirage, its tragic splendours of color, of tempest and of heat.”
As for the title, it is explained by Count Anteoni about one sixth of the way into the book (and the film): “The man who is afraid of prayer is unwise to set foot beyond the palm trees, he said.
He answered her very gravely.
The Arabs have a saying: ‘The desert is the garden of Allah.’”
The novel was filmed three times: Helen Ware and Thomas Santschi starred in a 1917 version, while Alice Terry and Ivan Petrovich were the leads of an MGM/Rex Ingram film (screenplay by Willis Goldbeck — Selznick’s assistant on this one) ten years later.
Green and Rosson were given an Honorary Academy Award for their color cinematography (The Garden of Allan was the world’s 5th three-strip Technicolor feature — following Becky Sharp, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, The Dancing Pirate and Ramona). The film was also nominated for Best Music Score (Korngold won for Anthony Adverse), and Assistant Director (Jack Sullivan won for The Charge of the Light Brigade).
Locations in the Mojave Desert near Yuma, Arizona.
The film was originally to star Merle Oberon and Gilbert Roland. Fortunately, Selznick was astute enough to grab Dietrich and Boyer for the leads when they suddenly became available by both walking out on Paramount’s Hotel Imperial in protest over the firing of director Ernst Lubitsch.
Shooting commenced late March 1936 and finished July 1936.
Negative cost: $1,447,760.
Unlike the 1927 version which took considerable liberties with both plot and characterization, this is a remarkably faithful transcription of the original novel. Admittedly a few incidents and characters have been compressed (and one minor player, Domini’s maid, Suzanne, omitted altogether); but with one or two exceptions, all the changes — slight as they are — represent distinct dramatic improvements. Not only are atmosphere and suspense heightened, but the exotic romance of the book is perfectly captured.
The players are collectively nothing short of superb. Dietrich is brilliantly cast. It’s a role calling not only for glamour and allure, but one requiring the actress to express a quality of urgent, desperate seeking. Dietrich’s exotic appeal goes without question, but her most fascinating and interesting roles are usually those in which she herself is actively seeking something (Dishonored, The Scarlet Empress, A Foreign Affair, Witness for the Prosecution, Judgment at Nuremberg) rather than being sought (Blonde Venus, Song of Songs, Stage Fright, Rancho Notorious). Her face (especially her eyes) and the accented timbre of her voice convey urgency, energy, drive — even ruthlessness — extremely well. Domini Enfilden is not only an embodiment of all these qualities but she has a romantic restlessness which Marlene portrays with totally convincing sympathy. It’s impossible to imagine any other star in this part. If ever there was a role that seemed completely made to order for Dietrich, this is it.
Charles Boyer was also never more perfectly served — although he did have a few other roles the equal of Boris Androvsky in romantic intensity, particularly in Mayerling (his very next film) and Hold Back the Dawn. Boyer would have made an ideal Hamlet. As a romantic character he is often at the mercy of events. He struggles to extricate himself, sometimes succeeding (History Is Made At Night), often not (Algiers, All This and Heaven Too). Anxiety, restlessness, despair — these are Boyer’s stock-in-trade. (He is much less compelling at light comedy — Cluny Brown, Tovarich — all smooth facade with little substance.)
Most of the support players are not quite so impressively catered for, though Basil Rathbone and Joseph Schildkraut judiciously match their respective characters to those in the book. C. Aubrey Smith, Alan Marshal and Lucile Watson are also ideally cast. John Carradine, however, is so completely unrecognizable — even his voice is different — it’s hard to believe it’s really him!
If it were possible to overshadow the richness of these excellent performances with a wealth of striking production values, producer Selznick and his accomplished technicians certainly give it a rousing try. Director Boleslawski, forsaking the sterile tableau approach he employed in Clive of India, has directed every scene with admirable deftness and style. He is aided — indeed bested — by superlative Technicolor photography of the film’s ravishing sets, costumes and locations.
Max Steiner has contributed a movingly atmospheric, delightfully captivating score.
All in all, a beautifully produced, grandly exotic yet totally engrossing romance. One of my favorite films of the 30s. Fortunately available on video in excellent prints, it’s a must for the permanent collection.
OTHER VIEWS: Robert Hichens’ dated morality romance serves as a wonderful vehicle for exquisitely beautiful photography (fully deserving its Honorary Academy Award) and that most atmospherically glamorous of all stars, Marlene Dietrich. Fittingly, Marlene always gets the best of the lighting. Her co-star and fellow-players are often forced to stumble around in the dark — though shadows are of course absolutely right in mood and character for Androvsky. Nonetheless, the film is primarily a feast for Dietrich fans. While Rathbone impresses with his suave authority (and is more indulgently and flatteringly photographed than Boyer), the only player who really stands up to Marlene is Joseph Schildkraut. He has an unusual comic role which he puts across with the same mildly amusing vivacity as the character in the book. Aside from John Carradine (who’s unrecognizable), the other thespians are much their usual selves — Tilly Losch is “introduced” but has no dialogue, her appearance being limited to an undulatingly fiery dance in her one scene. Lucile Watson and her convent wards are a bit of a pain, but the picture improves dramatically after this clumsy, instant information opening — so don’t let them put you off.
From the lovingly scrolled lettering of its opening credits to the finish, the script is a sensitive, lyrical vehicle for the display of photographic and musical artistry. Max Steiner does wonders in drowning out silly dialogue with his hauntingly melodious score. When you have such marvelously atmospheric music to caress the ears and such gorgeous sights — Dietrich modelling a host of flowing costumes against thrillingly exotic backgrounds and sets — to soothe the eyes, what matter dated plot and dialogue? It’s only when Boyer finally gets his brief innings near the end that the Dietrich-Steiner-Technicolor combination have any trouble asserting their authority. Elsewhere they are in complete command.
Boleslawski’s direction is for the most part unobtrusively competent, though he has a few really striking moments of inventiveness and he certainly knows how to make the most of atmosphere. Allied with superb production design (including both sets and costumes) and picturesque desert locations, the directors of photography provide a continual delight for the senses. Every frame is alluringly composed and lit. Never will I forget Dietrich’s haunting face (it was her first in color), and Boyer’s hunted features, those endless panoramas of spiralled sand, those jaunting sunrise and sunset silhouettes of caravans on distant sandy horizons . . .