Cast & Crew
At French Colonial Army headquarters in Tesket, Morocco, Col. Pascal briefs Capt. Paul Gerard on the convoy that Gerard has been assigned to lead the following morning to the Moroccan settlement of Bel-Rashad. Pascal comments that Cara, the beautiful daughter of the emir of Bel-Rashad, usually spends half the year in France, but this year, her unexpected return has led them to believe that the emir may be planning an attack on the French's nearby mountain outpost. Pascal then tells Gerard that his mission is twofold: he is to escort Cara to Bel-Rashad and investigate the possibility of an impending attack. By the time the convoy arrives at Bel-Rashad, Cara and Gerard have fallen in love. At the outpost, as Gerard is being introduced to Lt. Glysko, one of the sentries is shot by an unseen assailant. After they determine that the bullet was fired from a newly purchased rifle, Gerard decides to enter Bel-Rashad disguised as a Moroccan, as Frenchmen are forbidden to enter the settlement. When a sentry at the gate notices his pale face, Gerard quickly grabs his rifle and climbs onto the roof of the emir's palace. Gerard climbs through Cara's bedroom window, and while sentries pound fiercely on the door, he and Cara kiss. With Cara's help, Gerard escapes from Bel-Rashad and returns to headquarters with the rifle, which is determined to be identical to the one that fired the bullet recovered from the sentry's body. Later, the emir and his troops attack the outpost, kill or wound everyone and retreat. Glysko and his men then go to Bel-Rashad planning to raid the arsenal, but find it empty. They take Cara hostage and return to the outpost, after which the emir uses dynamite to alter the course of the stream that feeds the outpost well. When the well runs dry, Gerard and Glysko take the horses up to the stream for water and are ambushed by the emir's men. Later, the cavalrymen decide to free their horses rather than see them die of dehydration. Gerard does not believe that the emir would sacrifice his daughter in order to win against them and decides to wait him out. He rations the remaining water, but when there is only one day's worth left, Gerard realizes that the emir would indeed allow Cara to die and releases her. Hours after her departure, rain begins to fall on the outpost, and the soldiers rejoice and refresh themselves. Later, Gerard and his men surround the outpost with dynamite and retreat to the hills adjacent to the outpost. While the emir and his men march on the outpost, Gerard prepares to detonate it. Suddenly, entering with the men, Gerard sees Cara, who has come to beg her father to stop the attack. For a moment, Gerard hesitates, but then gives the order to blow up the outpost, killing everyone inside. Later, in a moment of private mourning, Gerard weeps for his lost love.
Paul De Sainte Colombe
Joseph N. Ermolieff
Joseph N. Ermolieff
Vic V. Jones
William E. Thomas
John D. Thompson
Outpost in Morocco
In post-World War I French Morocco, Col. Pascal (John Litel) picks Capt. Paul Gerard (George Raft) for a specialized mission: he is to lead a small division to escort the daughter of the Emir of Bel-Rashad to her home and investigate if the Emir (Eduard Franz) is planning an attack on a nearby French outpost. Gerard's manservant Bamboule (Ernö Verebes) searches local nightclubs for his boss, and eventually the ladies' man is discovered dancing the tango with a beautiful girl (the always interesting Marie Windsor). When Gerard leads the convoy the next day, he finds out that the beautiful girl is Cara, the Emir's daughter, now irritated with the Legionnaire. During their long journey, though, Cara falls in love with Gerard. At the palace, Gerard discovers that the Emir is stockpiling sophisticated weapons and plans to attack the local garrison. Cara temporarily turns against Gerard when she realizes that he has infiltrated the palace for purposes of military reconnaissance rather than his love for her.
Outpost in Morocco was produced by Sam Bischoff and Joseph N. Ermolieff, who formed a one-time company called "Moroccan Pictures" for the purpose. Prior to principal photography, second-unit director Richard Rosson traveled to Morocco to shoot an unusual amount of location footage; not just background or establishing shots, but script-specific action and scene-specific material that would later be combined with the studio work. The producers had the full cooperation of the French government and access to hundreds of Legionnaires at Fort Tinihir (many of whom, incidentally, were former German soldiers who had denounced their homeland at the end of World War II and joined the Legion). In Hollywood, Florey directed the bulk of the film on soundstages during August and September of 1948, in a thirty-six day shooting schedule.
Veteran moviemaker Robert Florey had directed two previous films dealing with present-day French colonialism, The Desert Song (1943) and Rogues' Regiment (1948). As a hobby, he had made a study of military history and even collected artifacts of the French Empire. (Several of the items seen on the walls of Col. Pascal are from Florey's collection; he contributed to the set decoration of several previous films as well). As Brian Taves writes in Robert Florey, The French Expressionist, "because [Outpost in Morocco] was a period story of the type he had so long wanted to direct, it may have aroused the French patriot in him. He did not regret its lack of concern with the contemporary issues that had permeated The Desert Song and Rogues' Regiment. Denunciations of colonialism were saved for films set during the modern era of World war II and its aftermath, rather than imposing current morality on the past. However, Florey moderated considerably the ideology typical of the adventure genre, displaying an awareness that the values it embodied were becoming outmoded."
George Raft was in the midst of a career slide in the late 1940s; films such as Nocturne (1946) and Christmas Eve (1947) are more highly regarded now than at the time of their release, when they were failures at the box office. Roles in other independent productions such as Intrigue (1947), Race Street (1948), and Red Light (1949) also did nothing for Raft's reputation. In The George Raft File: The Unauthorized Biography, James Robert Parish wrote, "Outpost in Morocco pretty much finished what was left of Raft's Hollywood career. The combination of his hot private life and his cold films turned the public against him. In 1950 fifty-five year old Raft did not have one film in release. He had worked steadily in pictures since late 1930 and now the roller coaster ride seemed to be coming to an end."
Taves summarized Outpost in Morocco by calling it "...neither memorable or distinctive. Many of the plot elements lack originality, and the script, while maintaining interest, is marred by some unlikely incidents, lapses in causality, and several underdeveloped supporting characters." Taves goes on to praise the intercutting of location footage with studio material, saying that "owing to the authentic desert locations used as background and the impressive long shots, Outpost in Morocco acquires a vastness in scope, almost an epic dimension." He credits Florey and cameraman Lucien Andriot with keeping the "differences minimized," and yet there are a few scenes in which Raft, Windsor, and other actors (and horses), all studio-bound, are awkwardly placed in front of huge rear projection screens. In these moments the process is laid bare since the rear-screen footage is soft and grainy compared to the foreground actors. Taves does note the film's story weaknesses, writing that the key romantic pairing is "...a less than credible match, due to the dialogue and situations they were given." Parish also blames the script for the film's failings, writing that it "...provided Raft with little scope in which to depict his Captain Paul Gerard... Much more convincing was Akim Tamiroff as Raft's subordinate officer, who is seasoned in the way of legionnaire life. Windsor did not have much luck in coping with her stale assignment as an Eastern princess, hamstrung by a particularly ridiculous scene in which she is shown charging the fort with the Arab troops in a vain attempt to make her father stop fighting."
Notices for Outpost in Morocco in 1949 were even more harsh. For example, the critic for Variety wrote that the film "has little originality and less credibility," adding that it was "...chiefly handicapped by [a] slipshod screenplay alternating between awkward and corny dialog." The critic also makes note of the "hokey tragic climax." In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, "If some first-class Moroccan scenery were all it took to make a first-class Foreign Legion picture which is what most films set in Morocco aim to be then... Outpost in Morocco would be a first-class Foreign Legion film. For it certainly has got the scenery great dry mountains and sun-baked, sandy wastes, deep ravines and rocky gorges and lonely mud forts set against the vaulted sky. ...But the indoor scenes and the story aren't likely to fool anyone; they're unmistakably phony and strictly from Hollywood." Crowther had particularly acidic words for Raft, because "after all, dash and dazzle are what it takes to make a really exciting thriller out of such romantic stuff, and those are the things which George Raft as the hero most plainly hasn't got. Mr. Raft plays his wild adventures as though he had all day and speaks his lines with the effort of a 6-year-old reading from a book."
Producer: Joseph N. Ermolieff
Director: Robert Florey
Screenplay: Paul de Sainte Colombe, Charles Grayson (writer); Frances Kavanaugh (script revision [uncredited]); Joseph N. Ermolieff (story)
Cinematography: Lucien Andriot
Art Direction: Arthur Lonergan
Music: Michel Michelet
Film Editing: George M. Arthur
Cast: George Raft (Capt. Paul Gerard), Marie Windsor (Cara), Akim Tamiroff (Lt. Glysko), John Litel (Col. Pascal), Ernö Verebes (Bamboule), Eduard Franz (Emir).
By John M. Miller
Outpost in Morocco
Knowing the captain, I'd look for him in some nice, cool room with a sultry lady.- Bamboule
There are so many sultry ladies in Tesket.- Orderly
Uh huh. Interesting problem, isn't it?- Bamboule
Your record is an excellent one, except for certain, uh, shall we say, uh, romantic, uh, complications.- Colonel Pascal
My duties have taken me into many strange places.- Capt. Paul Gerard
So I noticed.- Colonel Pascal
As my late father would say, all women are unfair.- Lieut. Glysko
If they weren't, there'd be no Foreign Legion.- Capt. Paul Gerard
Extras were provided by the French foreign Legion and the Moroccan Spahis Cavalry.
This film opens with the following onscreen acknowledgment: "We are grateful to the French Government for permission to film this production in the most advanced outpost in South Morocco with the unreserved assistance of the French Foreign Legion and the Moroccan Spahis Cavalry." A August 19, 1948 Los Angeles Times news item notes that through a partnership with Societé Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma of France, Moroccan Pictures arranged for French Foreign Legionnaires and Spahis Cavalrymen to appear as extras in some scenes.
According to a August 17, 1948 Los Angeles Daily News article, when Richard Rosson's second unit traveled to Fort Tinihir in Morocco for location shooting, they met "some 900 German legionnaires in French uniform, one of the remnants of Rommel's vaunted Afrikakorps." The article adds that "after V-E Day [the soldiers] were given their choice by the French either to enter the French Foreign Legion or return home to Germany. 90 per cent of them chose to remain as soldiers." According to a Los Angeles Times item, French actress Viviane Romance was under consideration for a role, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. The Daily Variety review notes that Outpost in Morocco was the last film of editor George Arthur, who died following its completion.