DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SIROCCO (director: Curtis Bernhardt; screenwriters: A. I. Bezzerides/Hans Jacoby/based on the novel Coup of Grace by Joseph Kessel; cinematographer: Burnett Guffey; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: George Antheil; cast: Humphrey Bogart (Harry Smith), Marta Toren (Violette), Lee J. Cobb (Col. Feroud), Everett Sloane (Gen. LaSalle), Zero Mostel (Balukjian), Nick Dennis (Nasir), Martin Wilkins (Omar), Vincent Renno (Arthur), David Bond (Achmet), Gerald Mohr (Major Jean Leon), Onslow Stevens (Emir Hassan); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robetrt Lord; Columbia TriStar; 1951)

 
"A well-acted but predictable spy thriller set in Damascus, in 1925, when the Syrian insurgents conduct guerrilla warfare against their French occupiers."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A well-acted but predictable spy thriller set in Damascus, in 1925, when the Syrian insurgents conduct guerrilla warfare against their French occupiers. Humphrey Bogart plays the cynical ex-reporter and American ex-soldier Harry Smith, who went AWOL to operate a gambling house and now runs a highly profitable black market operation. Harry is a  truculent, chain-smoking, bow-tie and trench-coat wearing amoral gunrunner, who has contact with the rebel leader Emir Hassan (Onslow Stevens) and displays no emotions when French soldiers are killed with the guns he supplies. Colonel Louis Feroud (Lee J. Cobb) is the idealistic head of French Intelligence who cunningly tracks down Harry as the rebels main gunrunner, a man he despises for his callous actions and that he stole the bored kept woman he loves, Violette (Marta Toren), and is secretly fleeing war-torn Damascus for the more serene Cairo with her. General LaSalle (Everett Sloane) is head of the French occupying army, and aims to put down the insurrection even if he has to become a butcher to do so and believes his competent intelligence officer is a dreamer if he thinks he can negotiate a truce with the ruthless Emir.

Director Curtis Bernhardt ("Conflict"/"A Stolen life"/"Miss Sadie Thompson") gives the pic a Casablanca look and pours on it all the negative cliches Hollywood usually uses in its portrayal of Arabs. It's based on the novel Coup of Grace by Joseph Kessel and is written by A. I. Bezzerides and Hans Jacoby.

The film's best line goes to the Swedish actress Toren, who tells Bogart: "You're so ugly. How can a man so ugly be so handsome?"

REVIEWED ON 7/29/2011       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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