USA 1936. Dir Frank Borzage.

With Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper. 89 min.

Dietrich’s foxy siren Madeleine makes for a supremely aristocratic crook in this Hollywood story set in France and Spain. Dressed for success in magnificent gowns by Travis Banton, Paramount’s star costume designer of the ‘20s and ‘30s, Madeleine uses her “European” elegance and glamour to fool and seduce everyone, only to get closer to that rare string of pearls. But who can hold that against the girl? Reminiscent of the 1932 comedy Trouble in Paradise by Ernst Lubitsch, who also co-produced this film, Desire is a witty comedy applauding Madeleine’s lusting for a precious commodity (especially as her sin is later excused, eventually giving way to romantic love…). Desire was one of Dietrich’s favourite roles, and a great commercial success.