Sirocco Film Details
Overview: A cynical American expatriate gets involved in smuggling and gun-running for the rebels during the 1925 Syrian insurgency against French occupation.
Tagline: BEYOND CASABLANCA . . . Fate, in a Low-cut Gown, Lies in Wait for Bogart!
Review: We know Bogart liked to keep working. The movies he made in the late Forties through the mid Fifties, however, sometimes give “work” a bad name. He veered effortlessly between fine movies that to this day continue to challenge, satisfy or do both and movies that are nothing more than nearly forgotten commercial hackwork. He knew what he was turning out; he called Sirocco a stinker. What an odd and undiscriminating selection process he and his agent must have had. In 1950 he makes Chain Lightening but then makes In a Lonely Place. In 1951 it’s Sirocco and then The African Queen. In 1953 it’s Battle Circle and then Beat the Devil (maybe a confusing failure, but not hackwork). With Sirocco Bogart gives us Harry Smith, a gunrunner who finds himself in Damascus. The year is 1925. The French run things. A lot of Syrians don’t like that at all. They’re called “rebels.” Harry? He doesn’t care one way or another as long as he’s paid. Harry is tired, sour, cynical and a skeptic. He doesn’t believe in anything except money and the value of his own hide. He’s Bogart. Harry quickly finds himself involved with a martinet of a French general named LaSalle (Everett Sloane) who thinks shooting five Syrians for every dead French soldier will be educational for everyone; a sympathetic French colonel named Feroud (Lee J. Cobb) who thinks he can avoid bloodshed if he can just sit down and talk things over with the rebel leaders, especially Emir Hassan (Onslow Stevens); and Feroud’s mistress, a cool drink of water named Violette (Marta Toren), a beautiful woman who seems to be aroused more by the prospect of shopping than the prospect of making love. In other words, a courtesan to scriptwriters, a sophisticated prostitute to the more realistic; something akin to a wealthy CEO’s trophy wife. Harry meets Violette, wants her and comes close to falling for her. This sets up some tension between himself and Colonel Feroud. All the while Harry is trying to extricate himself from an arms deal gone very, very wrong. By the end of the movie no one has gained much of anything, although it appears Violette will have the time to do more shopping. At one point in Sirocco Violette says to Harry Smith, “What a man! You’re so ugly! Yes, you are! How can a man so ugly be so handsome?” Ugly? Quasimodo, that’s ugly. Bogart may not have been handsome, but he had style, a unique screen personality and the good fortune to star in three — count ’em, three — iconic career-making movies in less than two years. High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca carved Bogart’s screen persona so deeply in granite that even hackwork like Sirocco scarcely makes a chip. When we see Harry we’re really seeing Roy, Sam and Rick. There’s no reason to watch this movie unless you’re fond of Bogart and have an hour and a half to waste. But if you watch, remember Everett Sloane. He was a fine, fine actor who seldom found memorable parts in Hollywood. He was a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater and came to Hollywood with Welles. He wound up in the Fifties doing a ton of television shows. He killed himself in 1965 when he was 55. My best memories of Sloane include Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane (1941); Arthur Bannister in The Lady from Shanghai (1947); Mario Belli in Prince of Foxes (1949); Dr. Eugene Brock in The Men (1950); and, powerfully, Walter Ramsey in Patterns (1956).
Language: English, Arabic
Duration: 98 min
Genre: Action, Drama, Film-Noir, Romance, War
Also known as: Sirocco,El traficante,Damasco ’25,Intriga en Damasco,Vapen till Orienten,Sirocco – Zwischen Kairo und Damaskus,Сирокко,Damaskus – vaarojen kaupunki,Vento do Deserto,Sirokkó,Siroco,モロッコ慕情