Pépé le Moko
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2017)
|Pépé le Moko|
|Directed by||Julien Duvivier|
Jacques Constant (adaptation)|
Henri Jeanson (dialogue)
Henri La Barthe
|Edited by||Marguerite Beaugé|
Arthur Mayer & Joseph Burstyn (USA, 1941)|
The Criterion Collection (Region 1 DVD, 2004)
The film depicts a gangster nicknamed Pépé le Moko. Moko is slang for a man from Toulon, derived from the Occitan amb aquò ("with that"), a term which punctuates sentences in Provence and which, in Toulon, is pronounced em'oquò.
The film is based on Henri La Barthe's novel of the same name, and La Barthe contributed to the screenplay under the pseudonym "Détective Ashelbé". Pépé le Moko is an example of the 1930s French movement known as poetic realism, which combines realism with occasional flashes of unusual cinematic tricks. The film is often considered an early predecessor of film noir.
Pépé le Moko (Jean Gabin), a criminal on the run from the police in metropolitan France, lives in the Casbah quarter of Algiers, where he is out of reach of the local police. Inspector Slimane (Lucas Gridoux) seeks a way to lure Pépé out of his refuge. He sees his chance when he learns that Pépé is in love with Gaby (Mireille Balin), the mistress of a rich businessman. Slimane leads Gaby to believe that Pépé has been killed. Gaby, who was on the point of joining him in his hiding place, now agrees to stay with her rich lover. When Pépé is informed that Gaby is about to leave Algiers for good he leaves the Casbah to find her and is arrested.
English author Graham Greene in a review of the film for The Spectator magazine asserted: "One of the most exciting and moving films I can remember seeing". It succeeds in "raising the thriller to a poetic level". According to a BBC documentary, it served as inspiration for Greene's screenplay for The Third Man. It also has many similarities with the American film Casablanca, which was released a few years later.
- Greene, Graham (22 April 1937). "Stage and Screen: The Cinema". The Spectator. Retrieved 7 June 2016.