Review for The Man from Morocco
Another very welcome release from the fine folk at Network. ‘The Man from Morocco’ should have immediate appeal to fans of classic British cinema. After all, it was directed by Mutz Greenbaum who, despite his German origins, has tremendous credentials principally as a fine cinematographer on a string of British classics including some of my all-time favourite Brit- comedies like Heavens Above! (1963), Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959), I'm All Right Jack (1959), Brothers in Law (1957) and Lucky Jim (1957) (credited as the less German sounding Max Greene).
‘The Man from Morocco’ starts fast and continues apace, covering several years and several countries in its sub-two hour time-frame.
When a group of idealistic freedom fighters arrive in France during World War II, following Franco's triumph in the Spanish Civil War, they find themselves being taken as political prisoners by the collaborationist Vichy government. Following two years in a prison camp, they are sent to build a railway in the relentless heat of the Sahara desert. Treated as less than humans, one makes a brave escape to return to London to find his lover who believes him to be dead. She is being romantically pursued by a man who is his greatest enemy – a traitor to the cause of freedom. As he holds the names of some 2000 men who are to be trusted in occupied France to help the cause of freedom, he is in very great danger with plans afoot to relieve him of both the names – and his life!
It’s a rip-roaring action thriller with just the right mix of espionage, action and romance to make it a very enjoyable watch. Anton Walbrook plays the charismatic leader of a group of freedom fighters, Karel Langer, and Margaretta Scott as the lady who falls for his poetic charm and idealism; his precious Manuela.
The original story was penned by Rudolph Cartier who you may recognise as the screenwriter and producer of classic 1950’s BBC series including Nineteen Eighty-Four and the legendary Quatermass series.
Released in Britain in 1944, Man from Morocco was released the following year in the US (after they entered the war too) and it certainly has a rallying, wartime heroic feel. Indeed, the intensity of the romance, lurching through constant danger and separation, is all the more poignant in the context of its war-time production.
As is now so often the case with the recent run of Network released, the transfer is top-notch. Picture quality is superb and there is little sign of wear and tear. Odd how they persist with DVD only releases as an HD transfer might have really sparkled. The only very minor gripe is the evident loss of some image in the title sequence with some captions clearly cropped.
On-screen extras are confined to a gallery and trailer though if you pop the disc into a PC you’ll find it also includes a PDF of promo pack from the time of its release. Nice stuff!
If good quality, fast –moving British dramas from yesteryear are your thing then you’ll want to add this to your collection pronto.