Love in Morocco (1933) Poster

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Fascinating farewell to film by the great Rex Ingram.
David Atfield6 August 2001
This was the final film, and only talkie, of one of the great visual stylists of the silent era. It is a flawed work, but its virtues far outweigh its short-comings. Like Pasolini many years later with ARABIAN NIGHTS, Ingram chose to film on real Arabian locations and with a largely unprofessional cast. Both of these things were virtually unheard of in film-making at this time. Both give the film a greater authenticity than a studio bound Hollywood fantasy like MOROCCO. The location photography is sublime, and the real scenery extraordinary in its beauty. If the non-professional actors are sometimes a little self-conscious, the magnificence of their faces makes up for it.

But it is the overly ambitious nature of the work that is its major short-coming. While Hollywood was making its early talkies safely indoors, where the primitive sound recording equipment could cope more easily, Ingram wanted to give his first talkie the grandeur of a silent epic. In the spectacular climactic battle sequence literally hundreds of extras fill the screen, but the sound recording does not match the images. The sound effects are weak and ineffectual - crowd noise, gun-fire etc are all unconvincing. As a result the scene is totally unbelievable and even unintentionally funny. You really wish he had just shot it silent and added only music later.

The professional members of the cast are all terrific. ROSITA GARCIA has real presence and an unusual beauty, and PIERRE BATCHEFF is really splendid as the young sheik. His striking resemblance to Ingram's favorite leading man RAMON NOVARRO is hard to miss. Batcheff apparently committed suicide shortly after this film was completed - I would like to know more about this truly charismatic actor. REX INGRAM himself plays the second lead, and he is very good. Perhaps less appealing is ARABELLA FIELDS as the "mammy" style black nanny. As this was her only film I suspect she was a non-professional. Her attempts at comic relief often fall flat.

As a final film of a master of cinema this is essential viewing. It should be mentioned too that Ingram's wife and artistic collaborator ALICE TERRY is credited as co-director, and that this was also her final film. One can only speculate what new ground Ingram and Terry may have broken had ill health, and a refusal to work in the Hollywood system, not prevented them from working again. In the last moments of the film Ingram is seen waving toward the camera - it adds a sad poignancy to BAROUD.
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Rex Ingram's Farewell
drednm15 January 2011
Apparently this Rex Ingram talkie was released as LOVE IN MOROCCO in 1933,an English version of the French BAROUD.

The English version stars Ingram as a Frenchman who falls for Zinah (Rosita Garcia) but this mismatch (for religious reasons) is frowned upon by her brother (Pierre Batcheff) who has fallen for a French chanteuse (Laura Salerni). There's also a tribal war (baroud) which thins out the population.

The Moroccan visuals are solid but the sound is weak, with lots of silent segments. Ingram is handsome but he can't act. Batcheff is quite striking and is a better actor than Ingram. Batcheff apparently died soon after this film was completed. Garcia is OK, and there's also a slave who acts as comic relief (Arabella Fields) who has her moments.

The film is historic as Ingram's only talkie and his final film. Add to this his co-director was silent star Alice Terry. She apparently directed scenes in which Ingram appeared. Terry is listed on IMDb as a cast member but I sure never saw her.

As the IMDb review mentions, there's a very moving scene at the film's finale where Ingram (on horseback) turns and waves to the camera (and the city) and then rides off into the desert sands. Rex's farewell to filmmaking.

When I asked Kevin Brownlow about this film, his comment was something like "Oy vey, what a mess." Yes, I guess. The parts were greater than the whole.
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