The Unholy Garden

  • 1931
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

This silly bit of business was Colman's worst movie. He's a Raffles-type thief who has had to seek refuge in Algeria where he's taken up with a corps of crooks at an oasis. Wray is the granddaughter of Marshall, an ancient embezzler in a wheelchair. He's secreted some of his ill-gotten gains and she means to protect them. Colman and his pal, Hymer, are...read more

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This silly bit of business was Colman's worst movie. He's a Raffles-type thief who has had to seek refuge in Algeria where he's taken up with a corps of crooks at an oasis. Wray is the granddaughter of Marshall, an ancient embezzler in a wheelchair. He's secreted some of his ill-gotten

gains and she means to protect them. Colman and his pal, Hymer, are at a hotel in the Sahara which has hot and cold running felons in every room. When the local cops learn that Colman is in the area, they send in Taylor, a plainclotheswoman, to get him away from the sanctuary so he can be

arrested. By that time, Colman is making eyes at Wray. The members of the gang at the hotel would like to get their hands on Marshall's cache of francs. Guard and Haupt lead that group and they think Colman is making a mistake by getting too close to Wray, who is, after all, related by blood to

Marshall. Colman is taking his time in trying to uncover the loot but Auer, one of the gang, thinks it's taking too long so he plans to shoot Marshall. Taylor arrives and tries to vamp Colman. The two go out for a spin in her car and he realizes that something is definitely not kosher when he

learns that the car in which they are riding is the property of Korff, the local police chief. Colman tries a double double-cross and tells Taylor that he is going to pull out the rug from beneath his gang's feet. What he really means to do is protect the money and give it to Wray. Taylor is

jealous of the manner in which Colman goes for Wray and she blows the whistle on him to the other members of the gang after they get her drunk. When Haupt learns this, he and the others, Auer, Guard, and Armetta, attempt to stem Colman's plan. With Hymer in his corner, Colman gets the money, gives

it to Wray, and tells her to get out of there with it, and with Marshall, before the old man is done in. Wray wants to stick with him, but Colman tells her that a life with him would be a life on the run and she'd be better off to leave right away. Colman and Hymer are about to leave when Hymer

asks where the money is. Colman shrugs and says that he "just met a dame" and gave it to her. Hymer shakes his head and the two men drive off in Korff's car.

A dumb movie that falls between comedy and drama and is neither, THE UNHOLY GARDEN (an unfortunate title) marked the final collaboration between Colman and director Fitzmaurice after eight films together. There is hardly anything as rare as a mediocre script by Hecht and MacArthur but this was,

although there is some speculation that they didn't write the script at all. They had told Goldwyn the story and he paid them for a script. Suddenly, a more attractive job (SCARFACE) came along and since they couldn't give attention to two movies at once, legend has it that two nameless writers

pounded this one out. Goldwyn hated the final script but the picture was scheduled to shoot immediately and so it went before the cameras in the condition it was in, thus proving the old adage that "if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage." Goldwyn's customary lavish sets and costumes could

not save the inherent stupidity of the badly written script. Goldwyn and Colman were feuding at the time and Fitzmaurice and Goldwyn's aide, Arthur Hornblow, spent most of their time keeping the two men away from each other. The result was a sleepwalking performance from Colman and an increased

desire on his part to get away from any long-term contracts in the future. That dream was realized about two years later when he went freelance and made a great deal more money with that decision. Whatever comedy is in the film comes from Hymer. Had Hecht and MacArthur really written the script,

you may be certain it would have been funnier, almost a parody of RAFFLES and the other similar films of the era.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This silly bit of business was Colman's worst movie. He's a Raffles-type thief who has had to seek refuge in Algeria where he's taken up with a corps of crooks at an oasis. Wray is the granddaughter of Marshall, an ancient embezzler in a wheelchair. He's s… (more)

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