Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Garden of Eden (Lewis Milestone) **

Director: Lewis Milestone

Cast: Corinne Griffith, Louise Dresser, Lowell Sherman, Charles Ray

Background: Director Lewis Milestone hadn't made a name for himself yet, but had a few films under his belt. Corinne Griffith was a silent film star with tons of experience, and Dresser was a well respected character actress.

Story: Toni (Griffith) is a young woman who sings in a Viennese nightclub. She is befriended and taken in by Rosa (Dresser), who turns out to be a Baroness. Toni worries if her suitor is now interested in her only for money.

Thoughts: Pretty vanilla movie. Nothing interesting going on here. Hard to believe this is the same director that would make All Quiet on the Western Front. Pacing is off, especially in the middle section. Corinne Griffith is an appealing performer, but her character isn't very interesting here. The film juggles two romances, but does a piss poor job of developing either of them. Rarely have I cared less whether a couple got together in a romance. There is an interesting relationship between Toni and Rosa, and Louise Dresser is especially good in the scene where she describes her backstory. I wish the movie had focused more on them instead of the two bland romances that go nowhere.

Postscript: Milestone would go on to direct the classic All Quiet on the Western Front and continue to direct movies for several decades, including the original version of Ocean's Eleven. Griffith would only make 7 more films, while Dresser continued acting for another decade and would receive an Oscar nomination the very next year.

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