Outpost in Morocco (1949)
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But there are several points that I found very interesting. For its low budget look this movie has a lot of scenes shot on location in the desert in Morocco. It is not stock footage like, for example, in Fort Algiers, but custom made stuff with an artistic quality that fits in very well with the footage shot on a Hollywood studio lot. Another reviewer suggests that Raft, Windsor and Tamiroff had a nice time in Morocco doing this movie. My guess is that they never left California when working on it. For long or medium range shots some locals took their parts, closer shots are all made with rear projection or on studio sets. This never disturbs the flow of the picture in any way and one might really think the stars are in that faraway country. This shows that some true craftsmen were involved here.
I've seen several films directed by Robert Florey. They are B movies but all have memorable scenes, often related with nature. Like Edgar G. Ulmer, Florey never seems to have lost his artistic ambition, however small the budget, however corny the script. Outpost in Morocco has a well filmed, dramatic climax when the fort is surrounded and the water supply is cut by the assailants. The commanding officer orders the horses to be released into the desert which is a little like dying for the cavalrymen. The scenes showing the horses galloping through the gate of the fortress and out into the desert plain are powerful. The following night the water supply is exhausted. The second in command starts praying, and suddenly the half asleep soldiers hear raindrops fall, one or two splatter on the leaf of a small plant. These really are very poetic moments one would not expect in a run off the mill picture, as are the sometimes interesting camera angles. Incidentally, the set design and the lighting are also very good, compared with pictures like the afore mentioned Fort Algiers.
Fans of Marie Windsor (and there are lots of reasons to be a fan of her) will like this movie. She plays the sheik's thoroughly Westernized daughter which is completely incongruous and nevertheless works amazingly well. I credit this to the talent and commandeering presence of this underrated actress whose sole handicap seemed to have been that she was very tall. At one moment she is seen swimming in a pool, by all appearances completely naked.
Acceptable action/adventures movie blending drama of self-sacrifice, love story and spectacular outdoors. The film concerns about the French Legion, an instrument of conquest of the North of Africa and Indochina. This regiment was employed for bloody fights and futile wars in a vain attempt to retain territories . Some moment is rather dull but in the second half is a bit more exciting with forced march and taking place in an isolate fort as well as Arab attacks. Atmosphere is appropriately depressing and and gritty, especially during the blockade when the regiment bears starvation and with no water. Evovative and adequate musical score by Michel Michelet.The picture was shot in Imperial County, California and Morocco, at the beginning the producers thanksgiving the French army for its collaboration. The story belongs a genre which has given classics, such as ¨Beau Geste(Gary Cooper)¨ and ¨Under two flags(Ronald Colman)¨ and full of humor as ¨Beau Hunks¨with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The motion picture is professionally directed by Robert Florey, a nice craftsman. He's expert on adventures genre: ¨Tarzan and the mermaids¨, ¨Rogues' regiment¨ also with the Foreign Legion and Terror genre : 'Beast with five fingers'and 'Murders in the Rue Morgue'. Rating : Acceptable adventures movie is passable at its kind , providing some of entertainment and fun.
The film was serialised as a strip in a British comic called "Film Fun" after its release in Britain in 1950.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Akim Tamiroff in his role as Lieutenant Glysko. He certainly excels as a character actor, breathing new life into whatever role he takes on. There's quite an exciting battle scene midway and some fierce racing horses as a battle unfolds.
George Raft and Marie Windsor were seldom at the top of my charts yet they are well suited in this film and meld nicely in the romantic episodes. I'd regard this one as standard entertainment, no frills.
Why, man, he doth bestride this narrow movie like s Colossus astride Rhodes. He wears the same expression, whether making love or shooting rebels. He looks grim always. He moves purposefully. Everything he is involved in generates the same contour of his facial muscles and, as in a Kuleshov experiment, we interpret it according to context.
Excuse me for making a little fun of George Raft. He actually suits the role and the movie pretty well. It's an unpretentious and action-filled, mostly studio-bound, story of proud French soldiers opposing a conflicted culture of Islamic colonials. A leader of one tribe, Eduard Franz, is pretty hostile to the French presence. So much so that he wipes out one of their outposts, despite some friendly gestures on the part of the French. At the same time, Eduard Franz has a very pretty and sensual daughter, Marie Windsor, she of the large and doe-like eyes and a mouth that bespeaks passion. Raft has delivered her from the city to her father's oasis and they have fallen in love with each other. (Over an enormous bowl of rice.) The two of them are torn between their conflicting allegiances. Windsor has been to some extent Westernized. She's been away from the tribe long enough to have acquired one of those pointed brassieres that were to become so common in 1950s movies. Not that she needs it. She's superbly feminine and nubile beyond measure. Raft too is torn between his love for her -- his enemy's daughter -- and his commitment to La France, though he never seriously wavers.
I don't want to spell out the end, but it really is a little confusing. Eduard Franz's cavalry make a suicidal line-abreast charge against a fortified position that has automatic weapons. Somehow, Marie Windsor gets mixed up in the ruckus and the conflict between enlightened Westerners and benighted tribesmen is resolved.
Without being sure why, I can say that I quite enjoyed it -- the stereotypes, the shootings, the battles, the galloping horses, the eyeballs of Marie Windsor, the Russian slurring of English by Akim Tamirov. I think maybe I had OD'd on political arguments and the economic calamity that happened on the day I watched this, but -- whatever -- I loved the action and the mindlessness.
All in all, a splendid way to take your mind off things.
Outpost in Morocco is a disposable adventure movie, complete with the French Foreign Legion, desert outposts, restless tribes and a desert princess with a figure usually seen only in a teen-ager's dreams. Still, as a basic Hollywood product it delivers the goods. Robert Florey, the director, keeps the action and the story moving along. Marie Windsor as Cara, the daughter of the Emir of Bel-Rashad, is zaftig. Akim Tamiroff as Lieutenant Glysko provides humor as well as bravery and energy. Eduard Franz as the Emir is suitably anti-French and, surprisingly, not simply a caricature of an untrustworthy native leader. And there's George Raft as Captain Paul Gerard, assigned to deliver Cara to her father in a journey across the sands, who then finds himself caught between love and a perilous rebellion, complete with a remote desert outpost on his hands to defend. Raft at 54 shows his age. His director makes him do the coin flipping thing a couple of times. Even when he's sneaking into the Emir's compound to find out what's going on, then escapes by leaping off parapets, racing across the sands and mounting briskly his horse, he shows as much emotion as when he's smooching Cara...not much. Once when asked about his acting Raft is supposed to have said, "I'm afraid to look, because I'm probably awful." It doesn't help Raft that he must wear a Legionnaire's uniform much of the time, complete with kepi and shoulder cape. When he's not in uniform he's in disguise, wearing a turban and what appears to be pantaloons. Raft, to his credit, does the job and doesn't seem embarrassed.
One of the pleasures of the movie is seeing Marie Windsor, the quintessential noir bad girl, playing Cara. Windsor gives us an emir's daughter who can be arrogant, sweet, loving and brave. She manages to avoid looking ridiculous even while photographed on what is supposed to be a horse galloping in front of a rear screen projection to stop her father. She's eye-catching at the start of the movie when we watch her and Raft dance a tango in a nightclub. For that matter, Raft looks great dancing the tango, too. To see Windsor at her best, which is to say her worst, just watch her deal with poor Elisha Cook, Jr., in The Killing.
Some elements of those two films get into Outpost in Morocco. The story such as it is has George Raft in a role that should have been Tyrone Power's if it had been a better script seducing lovely Marie Windsor, daughter of one of the local sheiks. Windsor's father is Eduard Franz who's stirring up rebellion against the French. Can Marie stop it and save her beloved Raft at the same time. If you care you might give this a look.
This film has the look and feel of a tax write off. Everybody here just goes through the motions. Raft is too wooden to seriously be considered as a romantic figure and Windsor does so much better when she's playing bad girls. Akim Tamiroff as a transplanted Cossack in the Legion comes off best, a dubious distinction for this film.
I guess the American cast also did it for a free trip to Morocco. Good a reason as any.
After the romantic stuff, the film becomes a movie about French Foreign Legion troops being besieged in the desert--like BEAU GESTE, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE FOREIGN LEGION, BEAU HUNKS and a dozen other films. NO surprises here and it looks almost like a slow motion and dull version of the standard "White man in the desert" film.
George Raft stars as a Legionnaire who combines a hazardous mission with a romantic involvement with an Emir's daughter. Once things get started, Raft is good enough in the role, but the first several minutes of the movie are wasted trying to portray his character as an incurable skirt-chaser, which doesn't really work. Marie Windsor plays the Emir's daughter, and while there's nothing wrong with her performance, she doesn't really fit the part, and she and Raft never quite seem to click together. The script is straightforward enough, but it could have used some sharper dialogue to pick up these scenes in particular.
Once Raft's character gets his assignment and meets the daughter, the story follows a pretty standard formula. The action sequences are the highlights, which include a good chase scene with Raft trying to elude a palace full of pursuers. Otherwise, there are only occasional moments of good drama to hold your attention.
Upon completion of the story, I couldn't think of a single practical reason why it should have been made. The Emir of Bel-Rashad (Eduard Franz) resents the presence of the French Foreign Legion in his lands, and makes preparation to rid their headquarters from his territory. In another film, his daughter Cara (Windsor) might have been able to bring the opposing sides together, professing her undying love for the Captain. Not here. In a rather well staged final battle scene, the Arabs are defeated at the Tasket outpost, but not before Windsor's character and her father are decimated by explosive charges detonated by soldiers at the fort. Girard is momentarily conflicted.
Raft and Windsor may have been the nominal stars here, but it's Akim Tamiroff who provides most of the animation as French Lieutenant Glysko. Suitably deferential to the Captain, he nevertheless has some good moments that might be described as lightly comedic. I would like to have seen more of Girard's orderly who started out in the picture, but then was never heard from again. I couldn't figure that one out either.
Other reviewers have characterized Raft's portrayal here as wooden, and I would concur. Interestingly, Marie Windsor has the kind of look that would suit either a charmer or a villain. Either way, I enjoy it when she turns up in a film. For a look at Windsor's dark side, try her manipulative role as Elisha Cook Jr's wife in "The Killing", or on a lighter note, as the evil Madame Rontru in "Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy".
The French are suspicious that the Emir has been supplied with thousands of modern and highly effective, unlike the 19 century muskets that his men have, German Mauser rifles! And with those modern arms he's planning to start a revolt all over French Morocco and end up throwing the French out. Something he's been dreaming about for years and now is finally able to make that dream come true! Unknown to the Emir Capt. Gerard has gotten his daughter to fall madly in love with him by his dancing ability that has her now going to great lengths, like hiding him in the privacy of her boudoir, in protecting him from her fathers men.
It's when Capt. Gerard uncovers, by going undercover, the fact that the Emir had the means, the Mausers, to cause real trouble for his French occupiers that he, by the skin of his teeth, makes it back to headquarters and Col. Pascal with the news. That turns out to be a bit too late for the French Foreign Legion unite, some 100 legionnaires, at Bel-Rashad who ends up getting slaughtered by the Emir men before help could arrive!
***SPOILERS*** With thousands of the Emir's horsemen now moving on the main French Foreign Legion outpost outside Bel-Rashad Morocco it's up to Capt. Gerard and his trustful sidekick Let. Glysko, Akim Tamiroff, who always wears in clean shirt in combat so if he gets killed he'll end up being buried with it wait for the inevitable end as the charge of the "Mauser Rifles", some 10,000 strong, is about to begin!
**MAJOR SPOILER*** Just when things look like they can't get any worse Cara, in what looked like a fit of insanity, jumps on an Arabian Stallion and takes off to the far off desert battlefield in order to stop her father the Amir from doing in her lover Capt. Gerard and the men he's in charge of. Starting way behind but, with her excellent riding ability, getting to the front of the charge Cara ends up getting blasted together with her father the Emir by a volley of French cannon fire and dynamite explosions! The ironic thing about all this is that Capt. Gerard never knew what Cara's motives were since, by being killed, she wasn't around to tell him.
Capt. Gerard, greatest lover in the Foreign Legion, is assigned to escort an emir's daughter to her father's mountain citadel and find out what he can about the emir's activities.
Gerard enjoys his work with lovely Cara, but arrives to find rebellion brewing.
Can the garrison be reinforced in time?
Stupid plot for a stupid movie that is totally miscast. The sets look like the same sets laurel & Hardy used when they when into the Foreign Legion.