Simon Grant (Gene Barry) is breaking into a London town house, silently entering the bedroom through the window and making for the safe, which hangs behind a painting. But just as he cracks the lock, he hears the owner, fashion magazine editor Louise Henderson (Cyd Charisse), returning – just his luck as she walks into the room and forces him to conceal himself in the wardrobe while she undresses and goes for a shower. Since she can’t hear over the sound of the water, Grant takes his opportunity and steals the diamond jewellery then leaves through the window he came in, ending up in the street below, but just as he is about to get into his car to drive away, the police pull up and start a conversation…
Ah, but our man gets away with it since they are just admiring his wheels and he manages to make good his escape – to one of the swankiest parties ever captured in a British movie of the nineteen-sixties. This was down to the fact Maroc 7 was far more captivated by the surface and appearances of its sets, locations and cast than they ever were by the plot, which was both convoluted and shallow simultaneously, quite an achievement even in swinging cinema of this decade, though naturally this made it catnip to fans of the fashions and overall look when it veered so strongly into the chic. Taking its cue from the James Bond franchise, it set the actors and crew down in an exotic land and let them pose to their heart’s content.
In truth, Barry came across a shade too old for his suave role, obviously hired for his possession of an American accent and rugged good looks all the better to sell this abroad, where American stars, or stars who sounded American anyway, were still regarded as a boon to any production whether they were dramatically appropriate to it or not. He wasn’t alone in hailing from the U.S. of A., as Charisse had left her dancing days behind her by this point and was concentrating on decorative parts in movies where the musical sequences were notably absent, and this marked her official winding down of big screen appearances, not making many more until her last ten years later in Warlords of Atlantis; she had more to do here, as the villain of the piece.
You read that right, it didn’t matter that she was the victim of the robbery in the opening five minutes, those rocks were already stolen and Grant was merely retrieving them in his capacity as an international security agent. No matter that going undercover was a dubious prospect as he stuck out like a sore thumb among these bright young things, he was going to weather the plentiful twists and double crosses like a trouper in a way that was less Bond and more a male Raquel Welch in Fathom, only here the location was Morocco. That half explained the title, which in a manner very typical of its day was happy to plonk a name on itself that you would have to watch the entire movie to discover why it was called that in the first place, and even then probably wasn’t worth it since it belonged to the MacGuffin.
Starting off at that party, Maroc 7 set out its stall as a delivery system for bright colours and smashing birds, no tasteful black and white here, this was all about the loud hues and minidresses that they hoped would still be all the rage once the movie was released. Some identify a mod sensibility to this, and it’s true that interest in the fashion world – producer Leslie Phillips co-starred as a photographer in the Blowup style, hard to believe as that may have been, and just wait till he pulls a gun – informed the appearance of the entire project, but representatives of that movement, which at this point was beginning to wind down, were thin on the ground, unless you counted all those models that peppered the storyline and background. Elsa Martinelli was one of those, as an ex-model herself no stranger to striking a pose (with a remarkable hairdo in one scene), and provided the love interest to Barry with Continental aplomb, but though it was resolutely unthrilling for a thriller, it did look very slick and pleasing to the eye of its vintage. Music by Kenneth V. Jones.