14 juin 1951. Le passant cinéphile a besoin de dépaysement, de changer de décor. Encore faut-il en avoir les moyens. Aller voir le dernier Bogart, Sirocco, lui semble être une bonne idée. Aussi pénètre-t-il sans hésiter dans la salle du Capitol, achète un paquet de cigarettes à l’ouvreuse et s’installe confortablement pour profiter du spectacle. Il en oublierait presque la critique acerbe signée Bosley Crowther.
Critique d’époque :
« Toward the laudable cause of demonstrating that opportunistic « business men » can be a considerable inconvenience to international amity and peace, Humphrey Bogart is frankly representing a horrible example of same in the Columbia film, Sirocco, which came to the Capitol yesterday. But with all due respect to Mr. Bogart and the thoughtful people who made this film, the demonstration is slightly platitudinous and conspicuously lacking in charm.In fact, there is so little substance in this morally unrelenting tale of the career of a munitions smuggler in Damascus back in 1925 – at a time, to refresh your memory, when the Syrians were battling the occupying French- that one looks for some marginal compensation in the way of color and atmosphere, at least. And even in these departments, the film is disappointingly short.Except for a few moody moments in a plaster night-club, yclept the Moulin Rouge, and some shadowy shots of sloppy Syrians lying around in dingy catacombs, the scene is no more suggestive of Damascus than a Shriners’ convention in New Orleans, on which occasion you would see more fezzes than ever show up in this film.
For the most part – indeed, for the sole part – Sirocco wafts a torpid tale of a slick, sneering gun-runner proving a painful thorn in a nice French colonel’s side. Not only does the rascal sell guns to the Syrians, prolonging the war which the good and patient colonel is trying to bring to an end, but he even sneaks in black-market groceries and a diamond bracelet to steal the colonel’s girl. « I’m a business man, » is in his motto. « I make a little money on the deal ».
But after Mr. Bogart has run through a routine display of perfidies and Lee J. Cobb has countered with some rumbling as the French officer, a hand-grenade, neatly planted, blows the « business man » to kingdom come and leaves the negotiation of peace terms more or less to the military arm.
As we say, Mr. Bogart is presented in an utterly disagreeable light and handles himself within that nimbus in a twitchy and truculent way. As has sometimes been the case in his pictures, he uses cigarettes more freely than the script – with which incidentally, A. I. Bezzerides and Hans Jacoby have had the most to do. Mr. Cobb glowers and grumbles as the colonel and Marta Toren plays the controversial dame with a touch of petulance which might be attributed to the brevity of her role. Everett Sloane, as a fire-eating general; Zero Mostel, as a fat Armenian spy, and Nick Dennis, as a faintly funny flunky for Mr. Bogart, are also aboard. The direction of Curtis Bernhardt is in a studiously clipped and close-to style » par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.
Plat, sans charme, décevant. Bosley Crowther n’y va pas avec le dos de la cuillère et fait feu de tout bois contre Bogart et Curtis Bernhardt, le réalisateur. Ma critique ensablée de Sirocco par ici.