Morocco


1h 30m 1930
Morocco

Brief Synopsis

A sultry cabaret singer falls hard for a Foreign Legionnaire.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 6, 1930
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Nov 1930
Production Company
Paramount-Publix Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Amy Jolly , die Frau aus Marrakesch by Benno Vigny (Berlin-Friedenau, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,237ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

Tom Brown, a devil-may-care American Legionnaire and ruthless in his treatment of women, is singled out for attention by cabaret singer Amy Jolly despite the clamor of other suitors, among them debonair man-of-the-world Kennington. Surreptitiously she arranges a rendezvous with Tom in her apartment, where he finds her embittered with life and scornful of men, though hypnotically attractive. He leaves abruptly and goes into the street to meet an officer's wife, but Amy, intrigued by him, follows and interrupts their interview; the woman urges the street beggars to attack Amy, but Tom defends her, and he is arrested and assigned to a dangerous mission. Learning that Kennington has offered her wealth and happiness, Tom elects to remain at a desert outpost after accomplishing his mission. Amy hears that he is wounded and goes to the post, accompanied by Kennington; realizing their love, Kennington offers to aid Tom in deserting the Legion. Tom, however, tells Amy that if she loves him, she must be prepared to be a good soldier; as he marches with his column into the desert, Amy joins the ragged wives and sweethearts who follow in the trail of the departing soldiers.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 6, 1930
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Nov 1930
Production Company
Paramount-Publix Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Amy Jolly , die Frau aus Marrakesch by Benno Vigny (Berlin-Friedenau, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,237ft (12 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1930
Marlene Dietrich

Best Art Direction

1930

Best Cinematography

1930

Best Director

1930
Josef Von Sternberg

Articles

Morocco


Unfolding with a strange, dreamlike logic, Morocco (1930), director Josef von Sternberg's first American film, follows the beautiful Amy Jolly (Marlene Dietrich) to the only possible destination for a love-burned, down-on-her-luck cabaret singer: the arid African city of the title.

Wealthy Mons. Le Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou) spies the gorgeous Amy alone on the ship's deck as it makes its way to that desert lair of thieves, Foreign Legionnaires and various luckless souls. Le Bessiere is immediately enthralled and offers to escort Amy around Morocco. But Amy is a woman of great resourcefulness and talent, who quickly adapts to Morocco's strange ways, as seen in her first musical performance in a disreputable local bar populated by sophisticates and riffraff alike.

Dressed in a man's tuxedo and dragging on a cigarette, Amy sings to the enraptured crowd who respond instantly to her smoldering, androgynous sensuality. As a saucy finale, Amy plants a kiss on a pretty female member of the audience, titillating a handsome Foreign Legionnaire in the audience, Tom Brown (Gary Cooper). The womanizing Brown has pledged himself to service in the Foreign Legion with no ties to any woman, but is soon fantasizing about desertion when he meets Amy. Equally taken with Brown, Amy is forced to make a difficult decision, between the wealth and stability of life with Le Bessiere who proposes marriage, and her smoldering passion for Brown.

Morocco was von Sternberg's and Marlene Dietrich's first American film after an unforgettable introduction to the international film community with their collaboration on The Blue Angel (1930). Lovingly photographed by her frequent collaborator von Sternberg, Dietrich is ravishing in Morocco, often at the expense of Cooper, who was angered at the attention the director lavished on his leading lady while virtually ignoring him. Originally the film had been titled Amy Jolly, The Woman of Marrakesh. But Cooper, again fearing that too much of the picture's focus was being placed on Dietrich, pressured the studio to change the title to Morocco.

Though von Sternberg and Cooper developed a strong dislike for one another during the making of Morocco, Cooper and Dietrich were reportedly more amicable and their onscreen romance soon became an off-screen one as well. The combination of Dietrich's smoky exoticism and Cooper's all-American machismo somehow worked despite the incongruity and the pair would go on to appear as lovers once again in Desire (1936), directed by Frank Borzage. Later in life, Dietrich was more candid about her co-star, remarking that "Cooper was neither intelligent nor cultured. Just like the other actors, he was chosen for his physique, which, after all, was more important than an active brain."

Von Sternberg, who made a total of seven films with Dietrich, controlled every aspect of his prized star's performance and appearance. He placed her on a strict diet, made sure her onscreen voice had the desired throaty, sexy timbre and even oversaw the plucking of her eyebrows to ensure the proper accent for her eyes. It was also the director who designed the ideal lighting for Dietrich. The actress recalled, "the light source created my mysterious-looking face with hollow cheeks, effected by putting the key light near the face and very high over it." Von Sternberg was equally famous for continually correcting Dietrich's heavily accented English. At one point during the production Dietrich fainted from the intense heat and had to be carried from the set. While lying on a stretcher, the workaholic actress asked von Sternberg if he needed another "cloze-up." Ignoring her fatigue, he instantly corrected her pronunciation.

Dietrich was von Sternberg's creation in many regards. Early on he saw something in this ordinary girl born Maria Magdalena von Losch that caused him to pluck her from the obscurity of small parts in German films. He transformed her into an improbably gorgeous, mysterious dream-woman whose sexual appeal was rarely matched in her films for other high profile directors like Ernst Lubitsch, Rene Clair, Raoul Walsh, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang and Orson Welles.

Cinematographer Lee Garmes, von Sternberg, art director Hans Dreier and Dietrich were all nominated for Oscars for their work on Morocco. And the film proved a spectacular success at the box office as well, earning a phenomenal $2 million for Paramount Studios and ensuring a place in film history for an unknown German actress whose name soon became synonymous with movie glamour.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Producer: Hector Turnbull
Screenplay: Jules Furthman, based on the novel Amy Jolly by Benno Vigny
Cinematography: Lee Garmes, Lucien Ballard
Production Design: Hans Dreier
Music: Karl Hajos
Cast: Gary Cooper (Tom Brown), Marlene Dietrich (Amy Jolly), Adolphe Menjou (Mons. Le Bessiere), Ullrich Haupt (Adjutant Caesar), Juliette Compton (Anna Dolores), Francis McDonald (Cpl. Tatoche).
BW-91m. Closed captioning.

by Felicia Feaster
Morocco

Morocco

Unfolding with a strange, dreamlike logic, Morocco (1930), director Josef von Sternberg's first American film, follows the beautiful Amy Jolly (Marlene Dietrich) to the only possible destination for a love-burned, down-on-her-luck cabaret singer: the arid African city of the title. Wealthy Mons. Le Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou) spies the gorgeous Amy alone on the ship's deck as it makes its way to that desert lair of thieves, Foreign Legionnaires and various luckless souls. Le Bessiere is immediately enthralled and offers to escort Amy around Morocco. But Amy is a woman of great resourcefulness and talent, who quickly adapts to Morocco's strange ways, as seen in her first musical performance in a disreputable local bar populated by sophisticates and riffraff alike. Dressed in a man's tuxedo and dragging on a cigarette, Amy sings to the enraptured crowd who respond instantly to her smoldering, androgynous sensuality. As a saucy finale, Amy plants a kiss on a pretty female member of the audience, titillating a handsome Foreign Legionnaire in the audience, Tom Brown (Gary Cooper). The womanizing Brown has pledged himself to service in the Foreign Legion with no ties to any woman, but is soon fantasizing about desertion when he meets Amy. Equally taken with Brown, Amy is forced to make a difficult decision, between the wealth and stability of life with Le Bessiere who proposes marriage, and her smoldering passion for Brown. Morocco was von Sternberg's and Marlene Dietrich's first American film after an unforgettable introduction to the international film community with their collaboration on The Blue Angel (1930). Lovingly photographed by her frequent collaborator von Sternberg, Dietrich is ravishing in Morocco, often at the expense of Cooper, who was angered at the attention the director lavished on his leading lady while virtually ignoring him. Originally the film had been titled Amy Jolly, The Woman of Marrakesh. But Cooper, again fearing that too much of the picture's focus was being placed on Dietrich, pressured the studio to change the title to Morocco. Though von Sternberg and Cooper developed a strong dislike for one another during the making of Morocco, Cooper and Dietrich were reportedly more amicable and their onscreen romance soon became an off-screen one as well. The combination of Dietrich's smoky exoticism and Cooper's all-American machismo somehow worked despite the incongruity and the pair would go on to appear as lovers once again in Desire (1936), directed by Frank Borzage. Later in life, Dietrich was more candid about her co-star, remarking that "Cooper was neither intelligent nor cultured. Just like the other actors, he was chosen for his physique, which, after all, was more important than an active brain." Von Sternberg, who made a total of seven films with Dietrich, controlled every aspect of his prized star's performance and appearance. He placed her on a strict diet, made sure her onscreen voice had the desired throaty, sexy timbre and even oversaw the plucking of her eyebrows to ensure the proper accent for her eyes. It was also the director who designed the ideal lighting for Dietrich. The actress recalled, "the light source created my mysterious-looking face with hollow cheeks, effected by putting the key light near the face and very high over it." Von Sternberg was equally famous for continually correcting Dietrich's heavily accented English. At one point during the production Dietrich fainted from the intense heat and had to be carried from the set. While lying on a stretcher, the workaholic actress asked von Sternberg if he needed another "cloze-up." Ignoring her fatigue, he instantly corrected her pronunciation. Dietrich was von Sternberg's creation in many regards. Early on he saw something in this ordinary girl born Maria Magdalena von Losch that caused him to pluck her from the obscurity of small parts in German films. He transformed her into an improbably gorgeous, mysterious dream-woman whose sexual appeal was rarely matched in her films for other high profile directors like Ernst Lubitsch, Rene Clair, Raoul Walsh, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang and Orson Welles. Cinematographer Lee Garmes, von Sternberg, art director Hans Dreier and Dietrich were all nominated for Oscars for their work on Morocco. And the film proved a spectacular success at the box office as well, earning a phenomenal $2 million for Paramount Studios and ensuring a place in film history for an unknown German actress whose name soon became synonymous with movie glamour. Director: Josef von Sternberg Producer: Hector Turnbull Screenplay: Jules Furthman, based on the novel Amy Jolly by Benno Vigny Cinematography: Lee Garmes, Lucien Ballard Production Design: Hans Dreier Music: Karl Hajos Cast: Gary Cooper (Tom Brown), Marlene Dietrich (Amy Jolly), Adolphe Menjou (Mons. Le Bessiere), Ullrich Haupt (Adjutant Caesar), Juliette Compton (Anna Dolores), Francis McDonald (Cpl. Tatoche). BW-91m. Closed captioning. by Felicia Feaster

Morocco - One of the Crown Jewels in The Marlene Dietrich Collection


If you were limited to only one movie with which to show someone what makes Marlene Dietrich special, Josef von Sternberg's Morocco would do the trick. Dietrich had already made movies in her native Germany before her 1930 Paramount debut (including her breakthrough The Blue Angel with von Sternberg), and she appears in one scene in Morocco before we see her character take the stage in a Morocco nightclub. But when Dietrich's Frenchwoman abroad, Amy Jolly, takes the stage at a rowdy nightclub populated by French Foreign Legion foot-soldiers in the pit near the stage and better-heeled officers and French colonials on the upper level, we get the sequence that, essentially, made Dietrich an international star and immediately more than just Paramount's answer to MGM's Greta Garbo.

Dietrich takes the stage in top hat and tails, a bit of in-your-face gender-bending most of the crowd hates, croons a French song with a charismatic devil-may-care attitude and wins the catcallers over. The song finished, she eyes a pretty woman in the audience with lip-licking lust, plucks a flower from the woman's hair and plants a kiss on her lips. Considering how much fuss women kissing women caused on sitcoms just a decade back, imagine how bold this was in 1930. Even by today's standards, Amy (and the Dietrich persona she embodies) is more strong-willed and individualistic than most movie characters.

Dietrich isn't through. The only Legionnaire in the pit applauding her tuxedo'd entrance is Private Tom Brown (Gary Cooper), who threatens to slug anyone who keeps booing Amy. She passes the flower on to him in her flirtations, along with her room key. So starts one of the movies' more memorable romantic dramas. These two world-weary characters, on emotional exiles in the Third World, are cynics who've given up on love until they meet each other. But their relationship gains substance by not being an easy one. They don't simply fall into each other's arms. When he uses the room key after her show, the two share woes, with Amy memorably saying, "There's a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms, no flags and no medals when we are brave." Perhaps sensing this is an all-or-nothing relationship, both initially back off.

But that's not for long. Although the French Foreign Legion conspires to thwart the couple (an officer whose wife Tom romanced has a grudge against him), Morocco takes the pair through Amy and Tom giving in to their mutual attraction, Tom surviving a near-suicidal mission and Amy entertaining the advances of a rich Frenchman (Adolphe Menjou) when it looks as if she and Tom might never be together. It culminates in a very striking ending of romantic commitment that would seem impossible to believe after the first half-hour of the movie, but which von Sternberg and Dietrich pull off.

Long before the ending, though, von Sternberg's visuals make Morocco extremely evocative. You can almost feel the desert heat and the windblown sand as his characters do. Although Morocco was made before the deep focus lenses of the 1940s, by placing objects in the foreground of shots and using shadows and smoke he creates a similar depth in his visual compositions. Of course, von Sternberg had also discovered Dietrich when casting The Blue Angel (which Paramount held for U.S. release until after Morocco had come out) and had shaped her image. Morocco shows Dietrich shed of her Blue Angel baby fat (von Sternberg put her on a rigid diet) and reveling in androgyny and outrageousness. It was also the first movie for which the director and cinematographer Lee Garmes came up with the strategy of bathing Dietrich in light from above to emphasize her cheekbones and eyebrows. Dietrich legendarily demanded such lighting on most everything she did for the rest of her career. Cooper reportedly chafed at von Sternberg's doting on his female lead and his performance is stiff at times, but virile Cooper is much preferred to the bumbling, asexual Cooper of such later movies as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or the otherwise entertaining Ball of Fire. Six years after Morocco, Cooper and Dietrich reteamed in the glossy, lukewarm Desire.

Morocco is the first movie on Universal Studios Home Entertainment's five-movie, two-disc Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection set, which includes two others she made with von Sternberg (and a couple of trailers for extras). It's a fine set, though it's annoying to see the obnoxious John Williams-scored current Universal logo placed before the vintage black-and-white Paramount logo on the movies in the new Dietrich, Mae West and Carole Lombard collections. Why couldn't Universal, which owns many of Paramount's pre-1948 talkies, have been cool and creative and put Universal's 1930s logo at the front of oldies like these instead?

For more information about Morocco, visit Universal Home Entertainment. To order Morocco (and you have to buy the whole Marlene Dietrich set to get it but it's a fine collection), go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

Morocco - One of the Crown Jewels in The Marlene Dietrich Collection

If you were limited to only one movie with which to show someone what makes Marlene Dietrich special, Josef von Sternberg's Morocco would do the trick. Dietrich had already made movies in her native Germany before her 1930 Paramount debut (including her breakthrough The Blue Angel with von Sternberg), and she appears in one scene in Morocco before we see her character take the stage in a Morocco nightclub. But when Dietrich's Frenchwoman abroad, Amy Jolly, takes the stage at a rowdy nightclub populated by French Foreign Legion foot-soldiers in the pit near the stage and better-heeled officers and French colonials on the upper level, we get the sequence that, essentially, made Dietrich an international star and immediately more than just Paramount's answer to MGM's Greta Garbo. Dietrich takes the stage in top hat and tails, a bit of in-your-face gender-bending most of the crowd hates, croons a French song with a charismatic devil-may-care attitude and wins the catcallers over. The song finished, she eyes a pretty woman in the audience with lip-licking lust, plucks a flower from the woman's hair and plants a kiss on her lips. Considering how much fuss women kissing women caused on sitcoms just a decade back, imagine how bold this was in 1930. Even by today's standards, Amy (and the Dietrich persona she embodies) is more strong-willed and individualistic than most movie characters. Dietrich isn't through. The only Legionnaire in the pit applauding her tuxedo'd entrance is Private Tom Brown (Gary Cooper), who threatens to slug anyone who keeps booing Amy. She passes the flower on to him in her flirtations, along with her room key. So starts one of the movies' more memorable romantic dramas. These two world-weary characters, on emotional exiles in the Third World, are cynics who've given up on love until they meet each other. But their relationship gains substance by not being an easy one. They don't simply fall into each other's arms. When he uses the room key after her show, the two share woes, with Amy memorably saying, "There's a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms, no flags and no medals when we are brave." Perhaps sensing this is an all-or-nothing relationship, both initially back off. But that's not for long. Although the French Foreign Legion conspires to thwart the couple (an officer whose wife Tom romanced has a grudge against him), Morocco takes the pair through Amy and Tom giving in to their mutual attraction, Tom surviving a near-suicidal mission and Amy entertaining the advances of a rich Frenchman (Adolphe Menjou) when it looks as if she and Tom might never be together. It culminates in a very striking ending of romantic commitment that would seem impossible to believe after the first half-hour of the movie, but which von Sternberg and Dietrich pull off. Long before the ending, though, von Sternberg's visuals make Morocco extremely evocative. You can almost feel the desert heat and the windblown sand as his characters do. Although Morocco was made before the deep focus lenses of the 1940s, by placing objects in the foreground of shots and using shadows and smoke he creates a similar depth in his visual compositions. Of course, von Sternberg had also discovered Dietrich when casting The Blue Angel (which Paramount held for U.S. release until after Morocco had come out) and had shaped her image. Morocco shows Dietrich shed of her Blue Angel baby fat (von Sternberg put her on a rigid diet) and reveling in androgyny and outrageousness. It was also the first movie for which the director and cinematographer Lee Garmes came up with the strategy of bathing Dietrich in light from above to emphasize her cheekbones and eyebrows. Dietrich legendarily demanded such lighting on most everything she did for the rest of her career. Cooper reportedly chafed at von Sternberg's doting on his female lead and his performance is stiff at times, but virile Cooper is much preferred to the bumbling, asexual Cooper of such later movies as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or the otherwise entertaining Ball of Fire. Six years after Morocco, Cooper and Dietrich reteamed in the glossy, lukewarm Desire. Morocco is the first movie on Universal Studios Home Entertainment's five-movie, two-disc Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection set, which includes two others she made with von Sternberg (and a couple of trailers for extras). It's a fine set, though it's annoying to see the obnoxious John Williams-scored current Universal logo placed before the vintage black-and-white Paramount logo on the movies in the new Dietrich, Mae West and Carole Lombard collections. Why couldn't Universal, which owns many of Paramount's pre-1948 talkies, have been cool and creative and put Universal's 1930s logo at the front of oldies like these instead? For more information about Morocco, visit Universal Home Entertainment. To order Morocco (and you have to buy the whole Marlene Dietrich set to get it but it's a fine collection), go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

I'd sit down if I were you.
- Tom Brown
You are pretty brave...with women.
- Amy Jolly
You'd better go now. I'm... beginning to like you.
- Amy Jolly
Every time a man has helped me, there has been a price. What's yours?
- Amy Jolly
My price? A smile.
- La Bessiere
I haven't got much more.
- Amy Jolly

Trivia

The infamous scene where Marlene Dietrich kisses another woman - which was added to the script at Dietrich's suggestion - was saved from being cut by the censors by Dietrich herself: she came up with the idea of taking a flower from the woman before kissing her and then giving the flower to 'Cooper, Gary' , explaining that if the censors cut the kiss the appearance of the flower would make no sense.

At the time of filming, Dietrich knew virtually no English, thus her lines in each scene were both kept to a minimum and fed to her phonetically.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992.

Notes

Miss Dietrich also sings "Quand l'amour meurt" by Millandy and Crémieux.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States Fall November 1930

Marlene Dietrich's first American film.

Selected in 1992 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States 1973 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Great American Films) November 15 - December 16, 1973.)

Released in United States Fall November 1930