BrianRxm Coins in Movies 105/133
Sirocco (1951)
Humphrey Bogart in 1925 Syria with piastres
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The 1951 Columbia Pictures film "Sirocco" is about an American working in 1925 French-occupied Syria.
The "Sirocco" is the name of a Sahara desert wind.
Syria was occupied by the French from 1920 to 1944 and from 1925 to 1927 there was an Arab or Syrian
revolt against the French.
Humphrey Bogart is Harry Smith, an American businessman who is smuggling and selling weapons
to the Arabs.
At one point he is wanted by the French and finds he has little money, only a few coins.
1. Title
The French flag flies over Damascus, Syria, an unpleasant reminder for the natives.
2. Damascus 1925
Colonel Feroud is a French intelligence officer working in Damascus.
3. Colonel Feroud
After some French soldiers are killed by Syrians, Col. Feroud talks the commanding general
out of taking hostages and killing them.
The French are looking for who is selling weapons and guns to the Syrians and round up
some suspects, including American Harry Smith.
4. Suspects rounded up
Harry is smoking a cigarette.
The French do not have enough evidence and release the suspects.
Col. Feroud has a mistress named Violette; she is tiring of their relationship and wants to
leave him and revolution-torn Damascus for quieter Cairo.
5. Violette tells Feroud it's over
Violette wants to get out of Damascus for which she needs a permit from the French.
At a nightclub, Violette meets Harry, and he later sends her a gift.
6. Violette and Harry
Violette asks Harry to take her to Cairo and he arranges for a truck ride with some locals.
Before the truck can leave, the French military arrive, Harry gets away but the other riders,
including Violette, are arrested.
Harry got away but had to leave his money (in paper cash) on the truck which the French take.
He descends to the ancient Roman catacombs under the city, broke and homeless.
7. Harry in the catacombs
Harry pulls out a hankerchief and some coins fall on the floor.
8. Coins on the floor
These look like typical movie "prop" coins.
Syria had been an Ottoman Turkish province and used Turkish money.
Following the end of World War I under French occupation they used the Egyptian pound.
The Egyptian pound was worth then about the same as the British pound or US five dollars,
and contained 100 piastres.
In 1919 the French introduced their Lebanon-Syria pound of 100 piastres.
They issued coins of 1/2, 2, and 5 piastres starting in 1926, which was too late for this film.
Egyptian and Ottoman coins continued to circulate for a while in Syria.
Egypt 20 piastres 1916
9. Egypt 20 piastres 1916
This coin is about the size of a US silver dollar and was worth about the same.
Harry then picks up his change.
10. Picking up the change
A Syrian offers Harry a silver dollar sized coin.
11. Syrian offers Harry a coin
The French arrive, arrest Harry, and take him to their headquarters.
12. The French make Harry an offer
Col. Feroud wants to meet with the Syrians and Harry agrees to take him.
Two of Harry's conditions are that Violette will be allowed to go to Cairo and Harry will get
his money back.
The general hears that Col. Feroud has been murdered and asks Harry to take another officer
to meet the Syrians. They find Feroud alive and Harry pays a 10,000 pound ransom for him in
paper cash.
The Syrians tell Harry that they no longer wish to do business with him.
13. Harry gets discharged
Humphrey Bogart as Harry Smith
Lee J. Cobb as Col. Feroud
Marta Toren as Violette
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Writers: A.I. Bezzerides, Hans Jacoby, Joseph Kessel
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