Number of Times Seen – 1 (21 Oct 2018)
Brief Synopsis – A nightclub singer and a soldier in the Foreign Legion fall in love amidst the dangerous climate of Africa when they meet in Morocco.
My Take on it – This is another film that I had never even heard of before watching, but chose to view it since director Josef von Sternberg received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for his work here.
The overall idea is an interesting one that probably seemed much more unique and innovative when it came out but since the premise is one that Hollywood has used far too often, it’s much harder to fully appreciate after nearly 90 years.
They unfortunately don’t manage to flesh out the characters well enough and we get caricatures most of the time instead of realistic characters.
Despite this, Gary Cooper and Marleen Dietrich have some nice chemistry together in the scenes they share.
Adoplh Menjou also does a wonderful job as a millionaire trying to also find a way out of his loneliness in order to have both Love and companionship.
The film is actually shot quite nicely and they manage to transport us to the exotic location of Morocco despite the fact that the entire film was shot right outside of L.A..
This might be part of the very reason that von Strenberg received his nomination.
The story of this film is fine but for some reason they aren’t able to do anything with this very simple fact since they are too focused on his father and the impeding disaster instead of trying to make us believe the love aspects of it all.
Bottom Line – Interesting idea that was probably much more appreciated when it came out than it can be now. The characters aren’t developed well enough and that makes the viewer care even less as to what will happen to them. Dietrich and Cooper are quite good here together and they have nice chemistry in all of their scenes. Menjou is also great as the millionaire who is also search for love and companionship. The landscape shots are quite exotic looking and make us truly believe that this was filmed on location in Africa instead of right outside of LA which is part of the reason why director Von Sternberg probably got a Best Director nomination for this film at the Oscars. The story is fine, but doesn’t manage to do anything out of the ordinary love story as presented.
MovieRob’s Favorite 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 Gary Cooper, explaining that if the censors cut the kiss the appearance of the flower would make no sense. (From IMDB)
Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)
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