Desire (1936) – Frank Borzage

The What Else to Watch lists in DK Canada’s The Movie Book are proving to be very enjoyable as I dig into more films I wasn’t aware of, and discovering some great cinematic moments.

Having previously reviewed Blue Angel, I’ve moved right onto the recommendations from the What Else to Watch section, and dug into Desire from 1936. Starring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper this is a fun romantic comedy with a side of crime.

Cooper plays Tom Bradley, and automotive engineer who has escaped from Detroit for his first vacation ever, and is driving from Paris to Spain.

Meanwhile, Dietrich as Madeline de Beaupre is a bit of a con artist and very much a crook. In a very entertaining sequence she absconds with a pearl necklace worth over two million francs.

What follows from there is your standard romantic comedy fare with predictable plot, but with a lot of fun moments, and Cooper looks like he’s having a great time throughout.

There are a lot of great bits, especially early in the film, including the theft, but the journey to the border is highly enjoyable, as is the customs sequence.


Of course, the two begin to fall in love. For Madeline, this is against her better judgement, but she eventually succumbs to Tom’s charms as he has already fallen for hers.

Unfortunately, they are going to have to deal with her partners in crime, as well as the fallout from the theft before they can have their happily ever after. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, that everything works out fine in time for the end credits.

Cooper is highly enjoyable in this film, but, to be honest, I’m still not a Dietrich fan, and I don’t understand her eyebrows. Never have. Having said that, the two do seem to have a fun chemistry together, and some of the double takes and expressions that get to cross Cooper’s face are priceless.

Some of the locations look fantastic, and it’s very much a shame when interiors shift to a studio, because you can really tell. I’m not saying everything should have been shot on location, but it would have given the film an exceptional romantic flair to have the two leads actually there, and put it on celluloid.

This was a nice change of pace for me, because until now, all I’d seen Cooper play was the serious role, which he does well, but it was great to see him cut loose and have a lot of fun in this one.

There is so much to explore in DK Books’ The Movie Book – make sure you pick one up yourself, and discover something new to you tonight, and maybe find a new favourite!


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