Humphrey Bogart is in familiar territory as an American expatriate in the Middle East, selling arms to the Syrian rebels under the nose of the occupying French army in 1925 Damascus. Bogie's Harry Smith, dressed in a modes... more »t cream suit and natty bow tie, is a hustler in a shady world of brittle alliances where the sound of mortar and gunfire never lets up. His nemesis is incorruptible French officer Lee J. Cobb, who is no gentleman when it comes to his lady (Marta Toren), a European beauty who catches Smith's eye. This mercenary, unsentimental Casablanca knock-off is dominated completely by a Bogart who has kissed romance and redemption goodbye. His ruthless, increasingly desperate performance makes up for the chilly Toren and the generally bland supporting cast (the exception is the animated Zero Mostel), and lights a fire under the film. --Sean Axmaker« less
Utah Blaine | Somewhere on Trexalon in District 268 | 06/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film about the French military occupation of Syria after World War I. The French were given Syria after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire as a mandate by the League of Nations, and are engaged in a guerilla war with the Syrian natives who are fighting for their independence. Bogie plays the role of a quasi-legitimate businessman in Damascus who is illegally selling weapons to the Arabs. This film was not well received by critics when first released in the early 50s, and is still not widely acclaimed by Bogie fans 50+ years later. As a great fan of Bogie myself, I'm a bit puzzled by this reaction to the film. While I agree that this is not up to the standards of Bogie's great films, this film is not as bad as it's detractors make it out to be. This is the type of film and the type of character that Bogie was meant to play: the gritty, morally ambiguous, profiteer who lives somewhere between the good guys and the bad guys. In fact, one thing that I really like about this film is that there is a surprising level of moral ambiguity at the beginning. Both the French and the Arabs claim the moral high ground, and the story line lends legitimacy to each sides claims. Bogie darts between the protagonists not caring who is right or wrong. Unlike most Bogie of the best films, he really does lie uncaringly in the middle for most of this film (perhaps this is why it is not well regarded - he really doesn't play a very sympathetic character in this picture, although in the end, Bogie finds his moral compass and `tries to do the right thing'). Overall this is an interesting, if not outstanding, story. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could (rounding to four because of Bogie and to balance out some of the other more negative reviews). At $22, this is probably not a film I would recommend for someone other than a hardcore Bogie fan to purchase, but it is definitely worth watching. Marta Toren, the love interest in the film, doesn't really inspire any fireworks. Lee J. Cobb does a good job as the conflicted French intelligence officer. The story itself is very good, although undone a bit by a weak ending."
A tedious romantic drama in the "Casablanca" vein but with n
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 01/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bogart seemed destined for a painful end as he plied his despicable trade in a tale set in French-occupied Damascus around 1925...
Casting his lot between the French and Syrians, depending upon which suits his own greedy plan most profitably, he earns the enmity of both sides...
There were good supporting performances by Lee J. Cobb, thumping his desk as usual as a French colonel, and Everett Sloane as a volatile general, but the film was of little consequence and a sorry end to Bogart's solo production credits...
"Sirocco" remains a tedious romantic drama in the "Casablanca" vein but with none of the magic...
Sirocco - Same old Bogie
Michael J Wareham | Milton, Canada, | 03/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bogie could do this type of role with his eyes closed, and possibly did, but it's far superiour than what many of the actors today can turn out. It's certainly not the best Bogie ever done, but he's just creating, once again, his role of Rick Blaine from Casasblanca and I can watch this very fine actor do that time after time after time. Marta Toren as the female lead was good to look at in any scene, and Lee J Cobb was at his pre-"On the Waterfront" smoldering best. Zero Mostel was Zero Mostel, what can one say about another master at his craft? All in all it was worth watching and brought back memories to me of when actors had to learn their craft and not just be good looking with a great body. Thank you."
South Korean Import aka Bootleg
NEWC4A | 02/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pretty good film if you don't mind bootlegged DVDs. While they may be authorized in So. Korea, they're not Authorized in the U.S.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize this when I wrote my initial review, or else I would have given it three stars.
I'm surprised Amazon allows the sale of imported bootlegs on their site.
Bogart called this one "a stinker." He wasn't wrong, but at
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 01/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"We know Bogart liked to keep working. The movies he made in the late Forties through the mid Fifties, however, sometimes give "work" a bad name. He veered effortlessly between fine movies that to this day continue to challenge, satisfy or do both and movies that are nothing more than nearly forgotten commercial hackwork. He knew what he was turning out; he called Sirocco a stinker. What an odd and undiscriminating selection process he and his agent must have had. In 1950 he makes Chain Lightening but then makes In a Lonely Place. In 1951 it's Sirocco and then The African Queen. In 1953 it's Battle Circle and then Beat the Devil (maybe a confusing failure, but not hackwork).
With Sirocco Bogart gives us Harry Smith, a gunrunner who finds himself in Damascus. The year is 1925. The French run things. A lot of Syrians don't like that at all. They're called "rebels." Harry? He doesn't care one way or another as long as he's paid. Harry is tired, sour, cynical and a skeptic. He doesn't believe in anything except money and the value of his own hide. He's Bogart. Harry quickly finds himself involved with a martinet of a French general named LaSalle (Everett Sloane) who thinks shooting five Syrians for every dead French soldier will be educational for everyone; a sympathetic French colonel named Feroud (Lee J. Cobb) who thinks he can avoid bloodshed if he can just sit down and talk things over with the rebel leaders, especially Emir Hassan (Onslow Stevens); and Feroud's mistress, a cool drink of water named Violette (Marta Toren), a beautiful woman who seems to be aroused more by the prospect of shopping than the prospect of making love. In other words, a courtesan to scriptwriters, a sophisticated prostitute to the more realistic; something akin to a wealthy CEO's trophy wife. Harry meets Violette, wants her and comes close to falling for her. This sets up some tension between himself and Colonel Feroud. All the while Harry is trying to extricate himself from an arms deal gone very, very wrong. By the end of the movie no one has gained much of anything, although it appears Violette will have the time to do more shopping.
At one point in Sirocco Violette says to Harry Smith, "What a man! You're so ugly! Yes, you are! How can a man so ugly be so handsome?" Ugly? Quasimodo, that's ugly. Bogart may not have been handsome, but he had style, a unique screen personality and the good fortune to star in three -- count 'em, three -- iconic career-making movies in less than two years. High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca carved Bogart's screen persona so deeply in granite that even hackwork like Sirocco scarcely makes a chip. When we see Harry we're really seeing Roy, Sam and Rick.
There's no reason to watch this movie unless you're fond of Bogart and have an hour and a half to waste. But if you watch, remember Everett Sloane. He was a fine, fine actor who seldom found memorable parts in Hollywood. He was a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater and came to Hollywood with Welles. He wound up in the Fifties doing a ton of television shows. He killed himself in 1965 when he was 55. My best memories of Sloane include Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1941); Arthur Bannister in The Lady from Shanghai (1947); Mario Belli in Prince of Foxes (1949); Dr. Eugene Brock in The Men (1950); and, powerfully, Walter Ramsey in Patterns (1956).
Sirocco's black-and-white DVD transfer looks just fine. There are no extras of any consequence."