Morocco (1930)

Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich
Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich

'Morocco' is a romantic drama movie made in 1930 by the German director, Josef von Sternberg. Based on the 1927 novel "Amy Jolly, The Woman of Marrakesh" by Benno Vigny, it is the movie which introduced Sternberg's protegée, Marlene Dietrich to the American public. She co-stars with Adolphe Menjou and a young Gary Cooper.

The film caused controversy on release because Dietrich kisses another woman on screen and because she wears men's clothes as part of her nightclub act, but it was a great box office success, and was warmly received by the critics. It received four Academy Award nominations for Best actress for Marlene Dietrich, Best Director for Josef von Sternberg, Best Cinematography for Lee Garmes and Best Art Direction for Hans Dreier.

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Marlene Dietrich plays Amy Jolly, a nightclub singer who travels to Morocco and falls in love with a Legionnaire, Tom Brown, played by Gary Cooper. She becomes engaged to a wealthy businessman, Kennington La Bessière, played by Adolphe Menjou, but true love will find a way.


Director Josef von Sternberg had already made the highly successful 'The Blue Angel' in Germany, with Marlene Dietrich, but the movie was deemed not suited to the taste of contemporary America. 'Morocco' was chosen as the ideal vehicle to introduce Dietrich to Hollywood and America. At the time of making the movie, Dietrich had learned virtually no English. Her lines were kept short and and she had to learn them phonetically.

The original title of the movie was to be, as the novel, "Amy Jolly, The Woman of Marrakesh" but it was changed by Paramount after complaints from Gary Cooper, who became angered by the attention he thought Dietrich was getting at his expense. He did not get on with von Sternberg, and became increasingly annoyed by von Sternberg's habit of speaking with Dietrich only in German. The relationship of actor and director did not improve when Cooper and Dietrich began a long and passionate affair during filming.

Main Cast

Gary Cooper ... Légionnaire Tom Brown
Marlene Dietrich ... Amy Jolly
Adolphe Menjou ... Kennington La Bessière
Ullrich Haupt ... Adjudant Caesar
Francis McDonald ... Caporal Tatoche
Eve Southern ... Madame Caesar
Paul Porcasi ... Lo Tinto, nightclub owner
Emil Chautard ... French general (uncredited)
Juliette Compton ... Anna Dolores (uncredited)
Albert Conti ... Colonel Quinnovieres (uncredited)
Thomas A. Curran (uncredited)
Theresa Harris ... Camp Follower (uncredited)
Harry Schultz ... German Sergeant (uncredited)
Michael Visaroff ... Colonel Barratire (uncredited

Marlene Dietrich (1901-92)
This is Dietrich's film and her performance, full of knowing weariness, made such an impact that she was nominated for an Academy Award, the only time in her career. She started as a cabaret artist and chorus girl, then film actress in 1920's Berlin. She made the transition to Hollywood to become an international movie star for two decades interrupted by the Second World War, during which she became a forces entertainer on the frontline.
Her final self-invention was as a topline international stage performer which lasted from the 1950's to her retirement in the 1970's. Her fame grew steadily and remorselessly and she became one of the greatest entertainment icons of the century.

Gary Cooper (1901-61)
He was for many years one of the most popular leading men in Hollywood. He appeared in over 100 movies, many of them Westerns, and was renowned for a restrained, natural acting style which nevertheless allowed him to portray deep-felt emotion.
Cooper was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award on five occasions, winning twice, for 'Sergeant York' and 'High Noon' and he also received an Honorary Award from the Academy in 1961. He was placed by the American Film Institute at number eleven on their list of the Greatest Male Stars of All Time.

Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963)
Born in America with a French father, Menjou begab his movie career in 1914 and by 1921 was co-starring with Rudolph Valentino in 'The Sheik'. He was nominated for an Academy Award for 'The Front Page' in 1931 and continued to appear in successful movies such as 'A Star Is Born' and 'Stage Door', both in 1937.
Menjou was staunchly right wing and was a leading member of the anti-communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. In 1947, he cooperated with HUAC in its hunt for communists in Hollywood. He appeared in 'Paths of Glory' in 1957 and his final movie appearance was in 'Pollyanna' in 1960.


Director ... Joseph von Sternberg
Producer ... Hector Turnbull
Screenplay ... Jules Furthman
Based on ... the novel "Amy Jolly, The Woman of Marrakesh" by Benno Vigny
Cinematography ... Lee Garmes, Lucien Ballard
Production Design ... Hans Dreier
Music ... Karl Hajos
Distribution Company ... Paramount Pictures
Release date ... November 14, 1930
Running time ... 91 minutes

Academy Awards

No Wins:
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Actress ... Marlene Dietrich
Best Director ... Josef von Sternberg
Best Cinematography ... Lee Garmes
Best Art Direction ... Hans Dreier