Josef Von Sternberg National Board Of Review Magazine - Essay

National Board Of Review Magazine

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Morocco] like all motion pictures of the front rank, the material is that of the screen alone, the narrative thread an exceedingly simple one. It amounts to the way it is embroidered. And here the result is [a cinematic pattern that is] brilliant, profuse, subtle, and at almost every turn inventive.

Morocco sets its sound in the background. Its speech is purely that of pictures, except where the pictures can be told more effectively by sound. (pp. 4-5)

[When] a character speaks it is merely in substantiation of the thing the action has made you see and know. The artist gives his engagement supper to his friends. All is sumptuous, splendid, covered with light, gaiety and tender feeling. The tragic past of his fiancee is gone. Then the drums of the returning Legionnaires are faintly heard. You get the sensation of the stirring city in the warm night outside…. One could go on finding in this film a text book and finding in the firm and sinewy grasp of its director the resolve to bring the motion picture, with the new powers that science has given it, back to its own….

As a study of the attraction that a man and woman of a certain type may have for one another—that can tear a woman from whatever of safety and pleasure her existence holds—Morocco is not unsubtle in its psychological reading. And this it is, perhaps, that leaves us feeling that we have seen something true if strange. (p. 5)

"Exceptional Photoplays: 'Morocco'," in National Board of Review Magazine (copyright, 1930), Vol. V, No. 9, November, 1930, pp. 4-5.