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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Dead End Adventure

Morocco (1930) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“Morocco” begins travelogue style with the globe spinning beneath us until it stops on North­west Africa. Cut to some marching soldiers entering a souk to be greeted by girl groupies, the Legionnaire Tom Brown (Gary Cooper) being discouraged from fraternizing while in formation by their commanding officer Adjutant Caesar (Ullrich Haupt).

The scene shifts to the arrival of a steamship carrying singer Mlle Amy Jolly (Marlene Dietrich) who resists the pass (“You can always reach me at this address”) of a wealthy gentle­man M. La Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou). At her new gig, the cabaret owner Lo Tinto (Paul Porcasi) suggests for protection she “Pick the officers; they have the money.” Instead, after mollifying an unruly crowd, she picks up Legion­naire Brown. They both seem to have arrived at dead ends emotionally, but there's a connection between them, which may or may not survive the competition of the groupies for the soldier or the rich guy for the babe, and individually they may or may not find a more literal dead end in the Sahara.


The entrance of the troops was blocked by a mule whose owner had to push and pull one way or the other to get it to move aside—but to which side? In fact their final departure was trailed by a rear guard whose goat required handling to get it to move to one side or the other. The relentless heat took its toll through­out. This sets the back­drop for the emotional burden of loneli­ness impelling a man or woman to hook up with the opposite sex—but to which partner?

As a meteorological analogy such burden of inevitability with one partner or another could well be represented in scripture by, (Eccl. 11:3) “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty them­selves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” The rain drenches the earth and the tree roots can no longer support the tree that then falls in one direction or the other. (Saturation and inertia were discussed in another context in my review of “Sully”.)

What makes this movie so interesting in terms of a heart falling for whomever, after prolonged loneli­ness, is the difference in character of the two leads. Legion­naire Brown is a stand-up guy. He pays his own way and faith­fully pays his debts. He accepts dangerous assignments with­out complaint. He spurns the advances of another man's wife. He knows when to keep quiet even at personal expense. We don't know his past (“When I joined the Legion, I ditched the past”), but it would surprise no one if he were a Christian; at the very least he's probably been mis­under­stood for being too good.

Mlle Jolly, on the other hand, makes this song her own:

What am I bid for my apple,
The fruit that made Adam so wise?
On the historic night, when he took a bite,
They discovered a new paradise.

She characterizes herself: “I seem to have the unhappy faculty of causing trouble … wher­ever I go.” She is probably the woman referred to in the Wisdom of Sirach, (Sirach 9:4) “Use not much the company of a woman that is a singer, lest thou be taken with her attempts.”

1 Corinthians 7There seems to be an analogy between Morocco in the movie and Corinth in the Bible. Paul answered the latter concerning their query on mixed marriages, (1Cor. 7:12-14) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. … For the … unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” Tom does in fact seem pretty good at getting the saucy babes in his coterie to toe the line; he has the makings of good husband material, that one. Paul earlier in the same epistle wrote, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, … or things present, or things to come; all are your's.” In Morocco's corner of the world there was room for one more camp follower; the soldier boys were not limited to what they had, i.e “things present,” and we see the same in Corinth with respect to a Christian able to marry a bride-to-be, i.e “things to come,” some­one of a worldly persuasion.

Some six months later Paul writes a second epistle to the Corinthians in which he asks them the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part has he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have a ready example of such partings in believers taking part in a marriage with unbelievers: the ones they asked Paul about earlier, minus the couples now where the unbelieving spouse either converted or departed, plus any new mixed marriages that occurred in the interim per Paul's allowance. Since presumably the unbelieving spouse was not attending worship with the believer—but they would have done other things together—the observant Corinthians might conclude they shouldn't mix unbeliever practices into their worship modes as Paul here concludes: (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” In Morocco the women camp followers were not yoked together with the regular army (“There's a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms, no flags, and no medals when we are brave; no wound stripes when we are hurt.”) And yet for their tenacious love, they were referred to as “the rear guard.” This is analogous to Paul who allows Christians and non-Christians to mix it up in marriages, but not in worship forms.

Production Values

This film, “Morocco” (1930) was based on the play “Amy Jolly” by Benno Vigny, and adapted for the screen by Jules Furthman. It was directed by Josef Von Stern­berg. It stars Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, and Adolphe Menjou. The three leads made the film, and Dietrich put in one whale of a performance as the seductive chanteuse in the nightclub.

It passed, after some argument, the production code of the time. It's a studio film in black & white shot indoors—no panoramic vistas. The music was diaphanous, what­ever occurred in the scene as it was shot. The cinema­tog­raphy was superb, the sound quality variable, the acting renowned, the script cliched, and the sets frugal. It would have worked well, also, as a silent movie.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The allusion to Eve's apple (and a night spot called Christine's) adds a certain religious element to the film, and indeed it has a lot in common with the culture of Corinth, a rather worldly church but whose Pauline epistles contribute to the canon whose verses are quoted some­times out of context by more spiritual churches. Oh, well. It's plot is rather unsophisticated except in its biblical analogy which seems to throw people. I enjoyed it because it tracked with the Bible that I've read and am comfor­table with. It was emotionally gripping.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, pre-code. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub.
   Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.