Pepe Le Moko, a thief who escaped from France with a fortune in jewels, has for two years lived in, and virtually ruled, the mazelike, impenetrable Casbah, "native quarter" of Algiers. A French official insists that he be captured, but sly Inspector Slimane knows he need only bide his time. The suave Pepe increasingly regards his stronghold as also his prison, especially when he meets beautiful Parisian visitor Gaby, who reminds him of the boulevards to which he dare not return...and arouses the mad jealousy of Ines, his Algerian mistress. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When complete cast credits are listed at the start of a movie and at the end, there are usually no changes. In this movie, the end credits reverse the order of the last two credits: Bert Roach follows Ben Hall. See more »
The tragic account of Pepe Le Moko having been filmed in France the year before with Jean Gabin as the star must have really impressed producer Walter Wanger. It's not often that a remake is made only a year later.
Jean Gabin who has been compared to Humphrey Bogart certainly would have brought a different style of Pepe Le Moko. But this film did wonders for Charles Boyer in establishing him among the first rank of American film stars.
His Pepe is suave, cunning, and deadly. Unfortunately while hanging out in the forbidden section of French Algiers known as the Casbah, Pepe has sort of built his own prison in that section. He cannot leave because the French police will grab him and a whole bunch of countries are getting in line with the French Foreign office to deport to face a slew of crimes. But in the Casbah he's untouchable as the visiting French prefect Paul Harvey finds out.
Joseph Calleia as Inspector Slimane knows the only way to capture him is to lure him out of his shelter. And the bait for that walks in with a visiting tourist from Paris played by Hedy Lamarr.
Hedy Lamarr was under contract to MGM having been brought over by Louis B. Mayer after her scandalous nude scene in the Austrian film Ecstacy. But MGM couldn't find anything for her to do, so she stayed idle drawing her weekly paycheck while a suitable property was found.
Boyer met Lamarr at a party according to The Films of Hedy Lamarr Citadel Press Series book and was taken with her. He told Walter Wanger and Wanger worked out a deal with Mayer that they could have Lamarr if Boyer did an MGM film. The one he did was Conquest with Greta Garbo. Seems to have worked out all around.
There's a lot of debate as to how good an actress Lamarr was. And in the right circumstances she could give a decent performance. The right circumstances was definitely Algiers where Boyer knew that the woman who could stir him from his safety net had to be one extraordinarily beautiful woman. No one ever questioned that about Lamarr. Algiers launched her career for American audiences with a blowout performance.
Charles Boyer was nominated for Best Actor as Pepe, but lost to Spencer Tracy in Boys Town. And Gene Lockhart as the treacherous Regis got a nod for Best Supporting Actor, but he was beaten out by Walter Brennan in Kentucky.
What's even more extraordinary is that Director John Cromwell did a magnificent job in capturing the mood and ambiance of Algiers. A few establishing newsreel shots and great sets and you would think this was done on location.
There was a third film version of Pepe Le Moko's story with Casbah starring Tony Martin. It was a musical version that fell short of establishing Martin as a big screen draw, but the songs were some of his best selling records.
Still though Boyer does a fabulous job as Pepe, though I would some day like to see Jean Gabin's version for comparison.
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