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1 rating: 4.0
Classics and Comedy movie directed by Frank Borzage
1 review about Desire

Dietrich and Cooper reunited for stylish heist comedy

  • Sep 26, 2009
DESIRE (1936) came during one of the most ghastly low-points of Marlene Dietrich's early Hollywood career. Paramount excecs had finally driven a hard wedge between Dietrich and her mentor/director-of-choice Josef von Sternberg following the disastrous reception of "The Devil is a Woman" in 1935. She had been languishing in a series of droll, albeit stunningly designed, melodramas, so what could be the better time to showcase Dietrich in a sparkling romantic comedy from Hollywood's hottest director of the moment, Frank Borzage? Which brings us to DESIRE...

Madeleine de Beaupre (Dietrich) has just pulled off the heist of the century, stealing a multi-million dollar pearl necklace - and largely thanks to the assistance of it's designer, no less! Whilst speeding through Spain to meet her accomplices, she meets vacationing American auto engineer Tom Bradley (Gary Cooper) and hides the necklace in his jacket pocket to evade customs officials at the Spanish border. Now all she needs to do is romance her man and the necklace is as good as got...

This is a gorgeous romantic comedy; the perfect antidote to the dramatic pieces that had pigeonholed Dietrich up until this point. Swathed in Travis Banton's fashions (her preferred costumier for the bulk of the 1930s including "Shanghai Express" and "The Garden of Allah"); she looks amazing, clearly relishing her smart new "modern" film transformation. Gary Cooper - Dietrich's "Morocco" leading man - provides the necessary fireworks and has the right "aw shucks" quality for the role of the naive American tourist.

Co-starring John Halliday, William Frawley, Ernest Cossart, Akim Tamiroff, Alan Mowbray and Zeffie Tilbury, DESIRE is *sadly* still one of Dietrich's least known or remembered efforts, something which I sincerely hope changes in the near future, because it offers so much enjoyment and delight.

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