Review by Michael Jacobson
Humphrey Bogart, Lee J. Cobb, Marta Toren, Everett Sloane, Gerald Mohr,
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: Trailers, Advertising Gallery, Bogart Collection Preview
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: January 21, 2003
seems like for years after the success of Casablanca that every studio in
one way or another tried to duplicate it’s formula.
Sirocco certainly feels like an attempt.
It even brought back the right leading man in Humphrey Bogart.
The end result is fairly entertaining, but not quite up to par.
The backdrop boasts the same political turmoil and intrigue, but none of
the exoticism, and the characters are shady, but not colorful.
setting is Damascus, where the presence of the French army has been a thorn in
the side of native Syrians. They
have been fighting back, costing both sides many lives. A French colonel named Feroud (Cobb), wishing to avoid more
bloodshed, suggests a proposal for a truce, even offering to go behind enemy
lines himself. His proposal is
accepted, but not his sacrifice: another
officer is sent instead and is killed for his effort.
the meantime, Feroud tries desperately to curtail the illegal arms sales that
keep the Syrians supplied, not yet knowing that the man most responsible is
Harry Smith (Bogart), who, like Rick in Casablanca, is a disillusioned
and non-political American in a war-torn foreign land only out for himself.
There is a romantic angle, too, but unlike before, no love story will
redeem the Harry Smith character.
intrigues Violette (Toren), who has been on the arm of Feroud for quite some
time now, but is finding the shady, charming gun runner a bit more appealing
than the quiet, sullen Feroud. But
the would-be love triangle collapses when Smith is finally found out.
He has to flee for his life from Syria while the walls close in around
the end, Feroud makes him a startling offer.
Though the French army wouldn’t grant him leave to go to the Emir and
plead for peace, he knows Harry’s connections can get him there.
Harry agrees in order to save his own neck, but when things go awry for
Feroud and with the pressures of the French army against him and his window for
escape narrowing, he makes one final attempt to run behind enemy lines, but for
a more selfless reason this time.
of this works to a certain point. Bogart
and Cobb are both terrific film actors and work well together on screen.
The film just lacks a certain electricity.
The scenarios promise intrigue, but we just never feel it as much as
we’re supposed to. The romantic
angle is a little bland (Toren is possibly the least interesting of Bogart’s
many leading ladies), and too much importance is placed on a conflict that
we’re just not into. In
comparison once again to Casablanca, it was not the conflict itself that
attracted us, but the mettle of the people caught up in it.
We just don’t get that in Sirocco.
Feroud is good but lacks flavor, and Bogart plays a character almost
beyond redemption. Neither man
earns our emotional investment.
entirely fail, mind you, but it comes up just a little short of an actual
success. The good performances and
storyline just don’t seem to gel into a classic the way other films with
Bogart or Cobb have.
good offering from Columbia Tri Star, this transfer maintains the integrity of
the black and white photography well. Detail
level is quite good, save for a few scenes that deliberately called for a little
softness, and the print is in fairly good condition for being 50 years
old…only minor specks and spots here and there.
Classic movie buffs should be placated.
mono soundtrack is perfectly presentable, but unspectacular by nature.
Dialogue sounds find, and a couple of explosive action scenes add a tad
of dynamic range, nothing more or less.
are three trailers (none for Sirocco), plus a vintage advertising gallery
and a preview of Columbia Tri Star’s Bogart Collection.