The Unholy Garden (1931)

75 mins | Drama | 10 October 1931

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HISTORY

Although Ronald Colman's name is listed above the title, it is placed last in the list of "The Players." According to MPH and HR news items, director George Fitzmaurice shot extensive retakes and additional scenes in Jul 1931 after previews of this film met with the audiences' disapproval. A HR news item noted that the photography was uneven throughout the film and speculated that the retakes were done by a photographer other than George Barnes, who receives onscreen credit. Gregg Toland is credited as co-photographer in the MPH and FD reviews, and it is possible that he shot the additional scenes. The Unholy Garden marks the last film appearance of actor Ullrich Haupt, who was killed in a hunting accident on 6 Aug 1931. This was also the eighth and final Ronald Colman film directed by George Fitzmaurice. According to modern sources, writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur "consigned" the writing of the script to two unnamed subordinates after they began preparing the script for Scarface (see ... More Less

Although Ronald Colman's name is listed above the title, it is placed last in the list of "The Players." According to MPH and HR news items, director George Fitzmaurice shot extensive retakes and additional scenes in Jul 1931 after previews of this film met with the audiences' disapproval. A HR news item noted that the photography was uneven throughout the film and speculated that the retakes were done by a photographer other than George Barnes, who receives onscreen credit. Gregg Toland is credited as co-photographer in the MPH and FD reviews, and it is possible that he shot the additional scenes. The Unholy Garden marks the last film appearance of actor Ullrich Haupt, who was killed in a hunting accident on 6 Aug 1931. This was also the eighth and final Ronald Colman film directed by George Fitzmaurice. According to modern sources, writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur "consigned" the writing of the script to two unnamed subordinates after they began preparing the script for Scarface (see above). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
24 Jun 31
p. 6.
Film Daily
1 Jul 31
p. 10.
Film Daily
9 Aug 31
p. 2.
Film Daily
20 Sep 31
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 31
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 31
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 31
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 31
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 31
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 31
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Aug 31
p. 148.
New York Times
17 May 31
Sec. 8, p. 5.
New York Times
29 Oct 31
p. 27.
New York Times
8 Nov 31
Sec. 8, p. 5.
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 October 1931
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 September 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2494
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Equipment
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

After the dashing English bank robber Barrington Hunt and his American accomplice, Smiley Corbin, flee from the site of their latest illegal accomplishment in Paris, Barry goes to Algeria. He keeps a low profile in the city of Orage while awaiting an opportunity to join Smiley in the desert at the hotel Palais Royale, a notorious "unholy garden," where criminals can safely hide without fear of police interference or extradition. His opportunity comes when Commandant Louis Lautrac sends his mistress, the sultry Elise Mowbry, to lure Barry into a trap. Barry agrees to go with Elise to her apartment, but after seeing a plaque identifying her car as belonging to Lautrac, he overpowers her and takes her with him as he drives to the Royale. There he is greeted by the hotel's owners, Mme. Lucie Villars and her husband, and Smiley, who tells him that their profits from their bank job disappeared when he met a "dame." Smiley is now embroiled in a scheme with some of the hotel's more unsavory inhabitants, including the German murderer Dr. Shayne, Colonel Von Axt, Kid Twist and Prince Nicolai Poliakoff. The group has discovered that Baron Louis de Jonghe, an elderly, blind, wheelchair-bound Parisian who has lived at the hotel for fifteen years with his innocent granddaughter Camille, is allegedly in possession of a huge sum of money that he embezzled from a bank. While the others vote to kill the baron and search his room immediately, Barry determines that the best way to the fortune is through the heart of the impressionable and lovely Camille. The suave Barry quickly wins the affections of Camille, who ... +


After the dashing English bank robber Barrington Hunt and his American accomplice, Smiley Corbin, flee from the site of their latest illegal accomplishment in Paris, Barry goes to Algeria. He keeps a low profile in the city of Orage while awaiting an opportunity to join Smiley in the desert at the hotel Palais Royale, a notorious "unholy garden," where criminals can safely hide without fear of police interference or extradition. His opportunity comes when Commandant Louis Lautrac sends his mistress, the sultry Elise Mowbry, to lure Barry into a trap. Barry agrees to go with Elise to her apartment, but after seeing a plaque identifying her car as belonging to Lautrac, he overpowers her and takes her with him as he drives to the Royale. There he is greeted by the hotel's owners, Mme. Lucie Villars and her husband, and Smiley, who tells him that their profits from their bank job disappeared when he met a "dame." Smiley is now embroiled in a scheme with some of the hotel's more unsavory inhabitants, including the German murderer Dr. Shayne, Colonel Von Axt, Kid Twist and Prince Nicolai Poliakoff. The group has discovered that Baron Louis de Jonghe, an elderly, blind, wheelchair-bound Parisian who has lived at the hotel for fifteen years with his innocent granddaughter Camille, is allegedly in possession of a huge sum of money that he embezzled from a bank. While the others vote to kill the baron and search his room immediately, Barry determines that the best way to the fortune is through the heart of the impressionable and lovely Camille. The suave Barry quickly wins the affections of Camille, who has grown to womanhood while surrounded by brutal criminals, and rejects the constant attempts by Elise to seduce him. Camille is crushed when Barry admits that he, too, is a criminal, and when he discovers the hiding place of the baron's money, it appears that he will still steal the money and disappear with Smiley, despite his own growing love for Camille. The other gangsters become suspicious of Barry's leisurely methods of finding the loot, and Elise confides to them that Smiley and Barry have asked for the use of her car. Suspecting that Barry intends to double-cross them, Shayne and Von Axt threaten him at the hotel's Christmas party, but Barry convinces them that he will steal the money that night and escape with them. While Twist and Nick the Goose are also threatening Barry, the baron's brother Alfred arrives and informs him that the government will pardon him if he returns to Paris and gives back the stolen money. The baron refuses, saying that the money is for Camille, and soon after Barry steals the money, the baron is killed by Von Axt. Barry befriends Alfred and convinces Camille that he is not her grandfather's murderer, and then helps them escape from the pursuing cutthroats. He gives the money to Camille, who has realized that she loves him no matter what, and unselfishly gives her up as he tells her that someday she will meet an honest man. He joins Smiley in Elise's stolen car, and as the two men escape, he answers Smiley's query about the money by saying that he just met a "dame." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.