Morocco

Morocco

***

Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

Morocco earned its place in the cinema history books for one reason ? Marlene Dietrich, in a tuxedo, snogging another woman... in 1930. Oh the scandal!

As nightclub singer Amy Jolly, the German seductress struts on to the stage - making androgynous immeasurably sexier than semi-clad - and approaches a female member of her audience. Taking a flower from her, she kisses her in gratitude and saunters off, to huge cheers from the audience... and from a few thrilled male viewers.

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It's hardly a full-on snog a la Bound or Wild Things but it caused outrage back then. Marlene herself is credited with coming up with the way to get the kiss past the strict censors. By taking the flower as she kisses her, it has to stay in order to explain why she is suddenly waving a flower around. Saucy minx.

Dietrich was nominated for her only Oscar for Morocco, playing a nightclub singer who falls in love with Foreign Legion soldier Tom Brown (Gary Cooper). She is supposed to French, although she still sounds German, so the Oscar tip certainly wasn't for her accent.

Anyway, both have had their hearts broken, leaving her wary of men and him a womaniser, who is currently having an affair with a superior's wife, Madame Caesar (Eve Southern).

Despite winning the affection of the wealthy Monsieur La Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou), Amy only has room in her heart for Brown. But, as always, things don't run smoothly.

Brown doesn't think he can compete with the wealthy Frenchman and leaves on a dangerous mission to the desert, pining for her the whole time. Can the lovers ever live happily ever after?

Morocco is one of the few, if not the only, movie where Dietrich plays a woman who is not completely in control of her emotions. She is usually the calm, collected femme fatale with men bending over backwards to please her.

Here, she is desperate to get her man, no matter how many times he rejects her or humiliates her. The chemistry between Dietrich and Cooper sizzles, although he plays his cad role too well and you struggle to believe Amy would put up with his shit. Back in the 30s, she would have seemed in love and devoted. Today she just seems a bit desperate. But hey, doesn't everyone love a bastard?

Reviewed on: 27 Nov 2006
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A womanising soldier in the Foreign Legion falls for a sultry nightclub singer. Out to own as part of Marlene Dietrich: The Collection 18-disc box set now.
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Director: Josef von Sternberg

Writer: Jules Furthman, based on the play by Benno Vigny

Starring: Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Adolphe Menjou, Paul Porcasi, Ullricht Haupt, Eve Southern

Year: 1930

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: US

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