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Since Bogart scored a huge success with CASABLANCA, one wonders if the North African intrigue and love triangle of SIROCCO ($25) was intended to capture lighting in a bottle for a second time. While SIROCCO is certainly no CASABLANCA, it actually proves to be a rather entertaining Humphrey Bogart flick. In SIROCCO, Bogart portrays disillusioned American Harry Smith, who is profiteering in the French occupied Syria of 1925. Posing a food merchant in Damascus, Harry is in actuality a gunrunner selling weapons to the locals, who are resisting the French occupation.

SIROCCO also stars Lee J. Cobb as Colonel Feroud, the head of French Millitary Intelligence, who wants to end the bloodshed and broker a truce between the two sides. As one might expect, the worlds of Harry Smith and Colonel Feroud are on a collision course. Things are then further complicated when Violette (Märta Torén), the Colonel’s woman, takes more than a passing interest in Harry. However, when the leaders of the resistance take the Colonel prisoner, Harry finds himself in the unexpected position of playing hero to rescue his rival. The cast of SIROCCO also includes Everett Sloane, Gerald Mohr, Zero Mostel, Nick Dennis and Onslow Stevens.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made SIROCCO available on DVD in a nice looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The black and white film element does show some signs of age, but isn’t it terrible shape. Some speckling and minor scratches comprise the worst of the blemishes, which seem to be most prominent at reel changes. A noticeable grain structure is present throughout most of the movie, but it isn’t particularly heavy or bothersome. Blacks are fairly pure and the whites appear crisp. Contrast is good and the grayscale provides variety and nuance to the image. Digital compression artifacts are nicely camouflaged throughout.

SIROCCO comes with a reasonably clean sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that is free from most signs of background hiss and surface noise. Dialogue is crisply rendered and is always completely understandable. Frequency limitations in the half-century-old recordings prevent the sound effects and music from having a clean, natural ring, but they do get the job done. No other language tracks are present on the DVD, but subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese and Japanese. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A Bogart Collection retrospective, with vintage advertising materials is the featured extra. Additionally, trailers for THE CAINE MUTINY, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA are also included on the DVD.

SIROCCO may not be CASABLANCA, but it is an entertaining Bogart flick nonetheless. Columbia’s DVD edition of the film looks and sounds fine, so if you are a fan of the screen icon, you will want to check out SIROCCO for yourself.



Sirocco (1951)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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