Marrakech Express is a 1989 Italian film directed by Gabriele Salvatores and starring Diego Abatantuono, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Cristina Marsillach, Giuseppe Cederna, and Gigio Alberti. A classical road movie, it was the first installment of Salvatores' trilogia della fuga ("escape trilogy"), followed by On Tour (1990) and the Academy Award winning Mediterraneo (1991). The cast of the three movies is partly the same; most notably, Diego Abatantuono has a leading role in all of them.
The plot revolves around a group of ex-high school friends that reunite in their 30s for a long journey together, and has been compared to Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill and Kevin Reynolds' Fandango. The soundtrack, that contributes to the nostalgic atmosphere of the movie, features original songs by blues guitarist and songwriter Roberto Ciotti as well as Italian evergreens from the 1970s such as L'anno che verrà by Lucio Dalla and La leva calcistica del '68 by Francesco De Gregori.
The screenplay was nominated for Premio Solinas.
Marco (Bentivoglio) is visited at home by a girl named Teresa (Marsillach) who claims to be the girlfriend of Rudy (Massimo Venturiello), an old college friend of Marco's; she also claims that Rudy is in jail in Morocco (for possession of hashish), and has sent her over to his old friends to collect the 30 millions lire that are needed to bribe a judge and return him to freedom.
Marco brings together two more members of the old company, Maurizio Ponchia (Abatantuono) and Paolino (Cederna), and they eventually resolve to bring the money to Rudy in Morocco. Ponchia, who is a used car dealer, provides a Mercedes offroad car for the journey. Along the way, they also go and get Cedro, a fourth friend, who has since chosen to live in isolation somewhere on the Alps (inspired by the reading of Kerouac's Desolation Angels). Marco, Ponchia, Paolino, Cedro, and Teresa thus begin their journey through France and Spain and across the Strait of Gibraltar to Marrakech.
Once in Marrakech, the four men are shown around by Teresa while they are supposedly waiting for Rudy to get out of jail to meet him. Amongst other things, they experience a turkish bath and have themselves a tattoo. Meanwhile, Teresa has disappeared, and much to their dismay, they realize the money and the car are gone, too. At the time due for Rudy's coming out of jail, another Italian comes out, Salvatore (Ugo Conti) who knows nothing about Rudy or Teresa, but helps them find out the truth, that Rudy was never jailed, and actually lives in an oasis in the desert.
The friends resolve to go look for Rudy, Teresa, and their money. Having lost their car, they have to adapt to travelling on a local bus and then by bike. As they try to cross the desert towards Rudy's oasis, fatigue and dehydration eventually knocks them off, but they are timely saved by Rudy himself who brings them to his place. Rudy reveals them that he needed the 30 millions to install a drill and start an orange plantation. After a first reaction of anger, the friends enjoy themselves participating in the installation and first activation of the drill, which also marks the end of their journey, and the time to go back to reality.
On their way back, the four friends mention reuniting the group somehow (more specifically, reuniting the futsal team); but along the way their enthusiasm fades away as they realize that these plans aren't realistic. The group finally disbands as Cedro and Paolino choose to stop over at Cedro's place in the Alps, and Marco and Ponchia drive back home alone.Milan, Italy
Wilderness of Tabernas, Spain