Morocco

With its wildly improbable story, its pre-Code innuendo and insolent stars-Marlene Dietrich as the cabaret performer Amy Jolly and Gary Cooper as the hangdog French Legionnaire she loves-Morocco is a masterpiece of controlled artifice. The surface of a von Sternberg film-sensual, luminous, and tactile-would compete with any other star, but Dietrich took a different route to elegance: she wore the pants. In tuxedo and top hat, hands in pockets, insouciant in stride, she kisses a woman and wins her man. For Dietrich, as for Garbo, wearing men's fashions onscreen and off represented sexual independence, and also freedom from the changing whims of women's fashions. “There's nothing like independence,” Amy Jolly says wistfully, well before she famously removes her high heels to follow her man across the desert.

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