Algiers (film)

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Algiers 1938 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Cromwell
Produced by Walter Wanger
Written by James M. Cain (additional dialogue)
Screenplay by John Howard Lawson
Based on Pépé le Moko
1937 novel 
by Detective Ashelbe
Pépé le Moko
1937 film
Music by
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • August 5, 1938 (1938-08-05) (USA)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $691,833[1]
Box office $951,801[1]

Algiers is a 1938 American drama film directed by John Cromwell and starring Charles Boyer, Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr.[2] Written by John Howard Lawson, the film is about a notorious French jewel thief hiding in the labyrinthine native quarter of Algiers known as the Casbah. Feeling imprisoned by his self-imposed exile, he is drawn out of hiding by a beautiful French tourist who reminds him of happier times in Paris. The Walter Wanger production was a remake of the successful 1937 French film Pépé le Moko, which derived its plot from the Henri La Barthe novel of the same name.[3]

Algiers was a sensation because it was the first Hollywood film starring Hedy Lamarr, whose stunning beauty became the main feature for film audiences. The film is notable as one of the sources of inspiration to the screenwriters of the 1942 Warner Bros. film Casablanca who wrote it with Hedy Lamarr in mind as the original female lead. According to the Turner Classic Movie channel, Charles Boyer's depiction of the main character, Pepe Le Moko, was the inspiration for the Warner Bros. animated character, Pepe Le Pew. In 1966, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants' failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[4]


Pepe Le Moko (Boyer) is a notorious thief, who, after his last great heist, escaped from France to Algeria. Since his escape, Moko became a resident and leader of the immense Casbah, or "native quarter", of Algiers. French officials arrive insisting on Pepe's capture are met with unfazed local detectives, led by Inspector Slimane (Calleia), who are biding their time. Meanwhile, Pepe begins to feel increasingly trapped in his prison-like stronghold, a feeling which intensifies after meeting the beautiful Gaby (Lamarr), who is visiting from France. His love for Gaby soon arouses the jealousy of Ines (Gurie), Pepe's Algerian mistress.



The film earned a profit of $150,466.[1]

Academy Awards[edit]

Radio adaptation[edit]

Algiers was dramatized as an hour-long radio play on two broadcasts of Lux Radio Theater, first on July 7, 1941 with Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, second on December 14, 1942 with Boyer and Loretta Young.

In popular culture[edit]

The 1938 movie Algiers was most Americans' introduction to the picturesque alleys and souks of the Casbah. It was also the inspiration for the 1942 Warner Brothers movie Casablanca which was written specifically for Hedy Lamarr in the female lead role. However, MGM refused to release Hedy Lamarr despite all efforts by Warner Brothers.

The invitation "Come with me to the Casbah," which was heard in trailers for Algiers but not in the film itself, became an exaggerated romantic overture promising exoticism and mystery, largely owing to its use by Looney Tunes cartoon character Pepé Le Pew, himself a spoof of Pépé le Moko. The amorous skunk used "Come with me to ze Casbah" as a pickup line. In 1954, the Looney Tunes cartoon The Cats Bah specifically spoofed Algiers, with the skunk enthusiastically declaring to Penelope the Cat, "Do not come with me to ze Casbah...We shall make beautiful musics [sic] togezzer right 'ere!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bernstein, Matthew (2000). Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent. Minnesota Press, p. 439.
  2. ^ LoBianco, Lorraine. "Algiers". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Algiers". American Film Institute. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313. 

External links[edit]