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Individual elements more interesting than the whole
Maroc 7 is one of those films that has a number of elements, individually of interest, but collectively failing to come together effectively.
The mysterious Simon Grant (Gene Barry) breaks into the home of fashion magazine editor Louise Henderson (Cyd Charisse) in order to get material to blackmail her into letting him accompany her on a fashion layout photo shoot in Morocco. Apparently he believes she was involved in a series of jewel thefts and he wants to get his share of the next caper. They are accompanied on the trip by her top model Claudia (Elsa Martinelli), shifty photographer Raymond Lowe (Leslie Phillips) and model wrangler Freddie (Angela Douglas). They are also accompanied by several models, including one, Vivienne, played by Tracy Reed. In Morocco they meet cynical police Inspector Barrada (Denholm Elliott), his attractive assistant Michelle Craig (Alexandra Stewart) and dubious antiquities expert Professor Bannen (Eric Barker).
The plot involves secret maps, robbing tombs and multiple double crosses. It doesn't really generate a lot of excitement but does have the decided attraction of being fast moving. They do try to enhance the ending with a fun plot twist. A major attraction is the colorful setting in Morocco, which is shown to great advantage.
Similarly the acting is professional, I don't think there is any bad performances per se, but it doesn't generate much emotional involvement. Perhaps the combination of 1940's Hollywood (Berry, Charisse) with 1960's swinging London was simply never going to be a comfortable fit. Although the photo shoot scenes, obviously dated to the 1960's (although I have no objection to miniskirts), provides some visual flair to match the Moroccan scenery. Denholm Elliott creates the most interesting character, while Elsa Martinelli and Alexandra Stewart are attractive love interests.
Leslie Phillips also produced the movie and he talked briefly about that experience on the commentary track for the British DVD release of Very Important Person (1961). Apparently he was interested in directing and thought that producing a movie would be a step in that direction. While he didn't say what, if anything, he enjoyed about producing, he was very clear about disliking all the financial management that went with producing. He mentioned, in passing, that the budget of Maroc 7 was approximately half a million dollars. According to IMDb this is the only movie he produced and he never directed any films (although his commentary referenced extensive theater directing). As an aside I would be interested in knowing whether the name of Alexandra Stewart's character, Michelle Craig, was an "inside joke" on Leslie Phillips' Doctor In Love co-star Michael Craig.
The quality of the print, in the German DVD release version I saw, could best be described as acceptable. In truth, having seen the movie on TV several times over the years, I have never really seen a pristine print of the film. The deterioration is regrettable given the colorful scenery in Morocco.
Overall the film is an acceptable time waster, although the elements are more workmanlike than inspired.
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