Outpost in Morocco (1949)



Director:    Robert Florey

Starring:     George Raft (Capt. Paul Gerard), Marie Windsor (Cara), Akim Tamiroff (Lt. Glysko), John Litel (Col. Pascal), Ern Verebes (Bamboule), Eduard Franz (Emir of Bel-Rashad), Crane Whitley (Caid Osman), Damian O'Flynn (Commandant Louis Fronval). 


Foreign Legion and colonialism


O.k. movie.  French Foreign Legion garrison at Tesket, Regional Headquarters of the French Colonial Army, Morocco.  The commandant Colonel Pascal needs someone to escort the Emir's only daughter, Cara, back to to Bel-Rashad (a forbidden city for Frenchmen).    He decides the man for the job is Captain Paul Gerard.  The Colonel has Bamboule, the Captain's orderly, find him and tell him to report to the Colonel.  (And he is partly the man for the job because he has a reputation as a bit of a lady's man and could just possibly charm the daughter and learn some intelligence about what her father is up to these days.)

Bamboule finds Captain Gerard in one of the night clubs in the area actually dancing with Cara at her request.  The Captain reports to the Colonel to learn his assignment, which also includes taking legionnaires to reinforce the garrison near Bel-Rashad.

On the long journey, Cara tells the Captain that she finds him conceited.  But around the 10th day, she says that he is sensitive and thoughtful and they kiss. 

Delivering Cara to her father, the Captailn receives the honor of actually being allowed into the fortified town.  (Actually the Emir just wanted to avoid a scene at the gate because his fiery daughter told him that she would make a fuss if next time her father did not greet one of her guest's politely.)  Once inside the palace, Cara finds herself forced to remain in the palace at all times. 

Captain Gerard and his men continue on to the nearby garrison. It is not long before Gerard learns what are the Emir's plans.  In disguise, he sneaks into Bel-Rashad and finds out that the Moroccans have received a large shipment of the newest Mausar rifle.   He is discovered and retreats to the palace where Cara hides him.  He tells her that yes, he broke into the palace in order to see her.  He escapes from Bel-Rashad.  When Cara learns from her father, that the real purposes of the Captain's visit was for the purpose of espionage, she feels betrayed and used and declares she wants nothing to do with the Captain. 

Will our Captain be able to mend fences with Cara?  That is, if first he is first able to survive the planned assault on the garrison by thousands of very angry Moroccans from Bel-Rashad.

This is a black and white B-picture and you get what you pay for so to speak.  The emphasis is on action with a love story thrown into the mix.  But I feel ambiguous about the film.  The love story is fine, but feeling good about the French occupation and ownership of Morocco is not fine.  I guess even after defeating fascism in World War II, Hollywood was supporting imperialism.  No wonder the United States and the West have so many problems in the Middle East when even Hollywood as late as 1949 saw people like the Moroccans as the bad guys and the imperialists as the good guys.

One thing I was pleased about was that I got to see Marie Windsor in a movie.  I had seen many pictures of her, but never had actually seen one of her movies. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.  


Historical Background:


as early as 1830  --  France showed a strong interest in Morocco.

1831 (March 10)  --  King Louis Philippe of France created the French Foreign Legion to support his war in Algeria.  Many of the men who went into the service were running away from problems in France.  They were poorly motivated and many deserted.

1904  --  the United Kingdom recognized France's "sphere of influence" in Morocco. 

1905 -1906   --  the Germans objected to the French sphere of influence in Morocco that led to the "crisis" of 1905-6.

1906  --  the crisis was resolved at the Algeciras Conference, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco jointly to France and Spain.

There was a second "Moroccan crisis" provoked by Berlin.

1912 (March 30)  --  the Treaty of Fez made Morocco a protectorate of France.

1912 (Nov. 27)  --  by the Treaty of Fez, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern (Saharan) zones.

World War I  --  many Muslim Moroccan soldiers (Goumiere) assisted the Allies. 

after World War I  --  the foreign legion was involved with the pacification of Morocco and the Middle East with the campaigns in the Rif, the Atlas and against the Druze.

World War II  --  Moroccan soldiers again assisted the Allies.

1944  --  the Istiqlal (Independence) Party made one of the earliest public demands for Moroccan independence.

1953  --  France exiled Sultan Mohammed V.  He was replaced by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa.  Aarafa's reign was seen as illegitimate and increased opposition to the French protectorate. 

1955  --  the French allowed Mohammed V to return. 

1956  -- negotiation for Moroccan independence began. 

1956 (March 2)  --  independence from France.



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