Operator 13

The war as gay and heroic and vital to be won after early defeats in a noble cause.

The war as vicious bloody slaughter and senseless at that, leading to no victory but firm amity.

An actress in Pinkerton’s Secret Service.

A great, unmistakable poem on the Civil War.


The Garden of Allah

“The Arabs have a saying, the desert is the garden of Allah.”

One might have met with a romantic surrealism, or a philosophical sort of emblem. Boleslawski’s treatment of the actors produces some other effect.

They are all kept cogent, discrete and useful, setting off Dietrich’s tenderness and enlivening the supremely beautiful color cinematography. With Boyer, something new has been added. It is a pleasant conceit, for any number of reasons, to have the character hate the world (very young, a Trappist monk), the performance is almost entirely unpleasant and painful, a man who “can’t bear to live in the world” and hasn’t any talent to save him, like Baudelaire’s. Ah, but a secret has been imparted to him.

Critical admiration for this film has diminished from the New York Times’ grateful incomprehension to Time Out Film Guide’s “load of lush tosh”.