Pépé le Moko

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Pépé le Moko
Pepelemokoposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulien Duvivier
Screenplay byJulien Duvivier
Henri La Barthe
Jacques Constant (adaptation)
Henri Jeanson (dialogue)
Based onPépé le Moko by Henri La Barthe
Produced byRaymond Hakim
Robert Hakim
StarringJean Gabin
CinematographyMarc Fossard
Jules Kruger
Edited byMarguerite Beaugé
Music byVincent Scotto
Mohamed Ygerbuchen
Distributed byArthur Mayer and Joseph Burstyn (USA, 1941)
The Criterion Collection (Region 1 DVD, 2004)
Release dates
  • 28 January 1937 (1937-01-28) (France)
  • 3 March 1941 (1941-03-03) (US)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Pépé le Moko ([pe.pe lə mo.ko]) is a 1937 French film directed by Julien Duvivier starring Jean Gabin, based on a novel of the same name by Henri La Barthe and with sets by Jacques Krauss. An example of the 1930s French movement known as poetic realism, it recounts the trapping of a gangster on the run in Algiers, who believes he is safe from arrest in the Casbah.

Plot[edit]

Pépé le Moko, a criminal on the run from the police in metropolitan France, lives with his gang in the Casbah quarter of Algiers where he is beyond the reach of the local police. They seek ways to lure him out of his refuge and a plot results in the death of a fellow gangster, but not of Pépé. The wily Inspector Slimane sees his chance when he learns that Pépé, who is fed up with his enforced exile and with his mistress Inès, has been struck by meeting the glamorous French tourist Gaby, mistress of a visiting businessman. When Gaby agrees to an afternoon assignation in Pépé's hideout, Slimane leads her to believe that Pépé has been killed and she reluctantly stays with her lover, who immediately books a passage back to France. When Pépé is informed that Gaby is about to leave Algiers, he leaves the Casbah to find her and is arrested at the harbour by Slimane. As he watches the ship take her away for ever, he commits suicide with a knife.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Principal photography for the film was shot at a replica of the Casbah at Joinville-le-Pont, near Paris, and only exterior shots were filmed in Algiers. Lead actress Mireille Balin never set foot in Algeria during the making of the film.

Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 100% based on 31 reviews, with an average rating of 8.65/10.[1] Metacritic reports a score of 98, based on 12 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[2]

English author Graham Greene in a review of the film for The Spectator asserted: "One of the most exciting and moving films I can remember seeing". It succeeds in "raising the thriller to a poetic level".[3] According to a BBC documentary, it served as inspiration for Greene's screenplay for The Third Man. It has many similarities with the American film Casablanca, which was released a few years later.

Remakes[edit]

The film was remade in America in 1938 as Algiers, starring Hedy Lamarr and Charles Boyer, and again in 1948 as Casbah, a musical starring Tony Martin, Märta Torén, Yvonne de Carlo, and Peter Lorre. The title character's French accent and womanizing, as portrayed by Charles Boyer in the 1938 remake, inspired the name and comic premise of the Looney Tunes cartoon character, Pepé Le Pew, introduced in 1945.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pépé le Moko (1937)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  2. ^ "Pépé le Moko (re-release)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Greene, Graham (22 April 1937). "Stage and Screen: The Cinema". The Spectator. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  4. ^ LoBianco, Lorraine. "Algiers". Retrieved March 16, 2013.

External links[edit]