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Sirocco (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sirocco- 1951 - poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCurtis Bernhardt
Screenplay byA.I. Bezzerides
Hans Jacoby
Based onCoup de Grace
1936 novel
by Joseph Kessel
Produced byRobert Lord
StarringHumphrey Bogart
CinematographyBurnett Guffey
Edited byViola Lawrence
Music byGeorge Antheil
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 13, 1951 (1951-06-13)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.3 million (US rentals)[1]

Sirocco is a 1951 American film noir directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Humphrey Bogart.[2]

The film name is derived from Sirocco, a strong wind blowing in the Mediterranean, coming from the Sahara desert. It is hot and dry and is said to make people irritable. The film is set in Syria somewhat east of the wind's paths.


In 1925 Damascus, the native Syrians are engaged in a guerrilla war against the French colonial rule of Syria. Harry Smith is an American black marketeer, secretly selling weapons to the guerillas. As the situation deteriorates, French General LaSalle orders that civilian sympathisers be executed each time his soldiers are killed, but his head of military intelligence, Colonel Feroud, persuades him to alter the plan, and simply detain civilians for 48 hours. Feroud calls in five of the city's profiteers (including Smith and Balukjiaan) and accuses them of selling food at excessive prices. Smith is the only one who appears to be willing to cooperate. After he leaves, they investigate Smith and find he was a war hero in the First World War.

A bomb goes off in a night club where Smith has been eying Violetta whilst drinking with his barber friend Nasir. Violetta is thrown to the floor. Feroud picks her up, but it is Smith who comforts her. Violetta leaves with Feroud and returns to his apartment: it becomes clear that they are lovers.

Feroud presses for negotiations with rebel leader Emir Hassan. LaSalle reluctantly lets him try to arrange a meeting, but refuses to let Feroud make contact directly. A young military officer sent in his place is later found murdered with his throat cut.

Feroud calls in Balukjiaan and accuses him of being a gun-runner. He protests his innocence and suggests Smith instead.

To complicate matters, Harry makes a pass at Feroud's unhappy mistress, Violetta, but she rejects him. Later, she informs Feroud she wants to leave him, but he refuses to let her go.

Harry discovers that Nasir has given his name to the authorities when pressured, and plans his escape. At the same time, Violetta shows up and begs him to take her back to Cairo. Needing to flee himself, he agrees to take her along. However, a French patrol nearly captures Harry. He barely gets away, but has to leave behind his money, and without that, he is soon betrayed to the French.

Facing execution, Harry agrees to help Feroud meet with Hassan. Hassan calls the colonel a fool and dismisses his plea for negotiations, but decides to spare his life when Harry and Feroud's aide Major Leon show up offering a £10,000 ransom. The officers are allowed to leave; Harry is not so lucky. The rebels are angered that he has revealed the location of their headquarters to the French and fear he has sold them out, so they kill him. As Feroud and Leon walk back, they notice that the incessant gunfire and explosions have stopped. Feroud wonders aloud if he has convinced Hassan to be as big a fool.


Critical reception

Film critic Bosley Crowther lambasted the film and wrote, "Except for a few moody moments in a plaster night-club, called the Moulin Rouge, and some shadowy shots of sloppy Syrians lying around in dingy catacombs, the scene is no more suggestive of Damascus than a Shriners' convention in New Orleans, on which occasion you would see more fezzes than ever show up in this film. For the most part—indeed, for the sole part—Sirocco wafts a torpid tale of a slick, sneering gun-runner proving a painful thorn in a nice French colonel's side."[3]

Critic Leonard Maltin gave the film a mixed review, writing, "I'd always read that it was a half-baked attempt to rekindle some of the ingredients that made Casablanca such a success, and that's true. The setting is Damascus in 1926, when the French Army is battling Syrian insurgents...Sirocco is strictly formula stuff, but it's a perfect example of how Hollywood could take ordinary material and still make it entertaining, through sheer professional polish in the writing, staging, art direction, and casting. Zero Mostel, Gerald Mohr, and Nick Dennis head the colorful supporting cast, who perform well under Curtis Bernhardt's direction."[4]


  1. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  2. ^ Sirocco at IMDb
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, June 14, 1951. Last accessed: January 23, 2008.
  4. ^ Maltin, Leonard Archived 2008-10-02 at the Wayback Machine. Leonard Maltin Movie Crazy film reviews, 2008. Last accessed: January 23, 2008.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 June 2022, at 17:41
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