Algiers (1938) Poster

(1938)

User Reviews

Add a Review
46 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
7/10
The jewel thief of the Casbah
jotix10012 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Imitation is the best form of flattery. For audiences that haven't seen the far superior, "Pepe le Moko", directed by Julien Duvivier, this version, will have to suffice. "Algiers" follows its French model in ways that it's just not a remake, it's a copy of the other film.

Fortunately for John Cromwell, a fine director, he got a tremendously appealing performance by Charles Boyer, a suave actor who embodied the famous jewel thief of that notorious district of Algiers. This film was also made better thanks to the magic camera work by James Wong Howe, one of the best men in the business, as proved by his long and distinguished career behind the scenes. Henri LaBarthe's novel was adapted for this American version by John Howard Lawson, with James Cain's helping with additional dialog.

"Algiers" is not without its own merits. Thanks to the talented cast that came together for the making of this film, it has gained the status of a classic. Charles Boyer was perfect as Pepe, a man whose life centers around the mysterious citadel where all kinds of unsavory characters live. Hedy Lamarr, one of the most beautiful faces in the movies, makes a good appearance as Gaby, the woman who steals Pepe's heart. Gaby and Pepe have a common ground as they reminisce of Paris, a city both love.

The other triumph of "Algiers" was the way the supporting players made this story much better, as it seems impossible to visualize other people cast for the key minor parts. Sigrid Gurie, is a mysterious Ines, the woman in love with Pepe. In her love, she doesn't stop to take into consideration what her actions will do to her lover. Gene Lockhart, a magnificent character actor, is phenomenal in his take of Regis, the schemer of the Casbah. Joseph Calleia, is perfectly sly as Inspector Slimane, a man with the patience of a saint, who must humor Pepe and his gang and who is powerless inside the Casbah. Stanley Fields makes a loyal Carlos, Pepe's trusted companion. Johnny Downs is seen as Pierrot and Leonid Kinskey, another character actor who worked extensively in that period of the American cinema, is excellent as L'arbi.

For those who haven't seen the original Duvivier film, try getting the wonderful DVD to see the great Jean Gabin in one of his best roles. The copy shown by TCM recently, seemed somewhat faded. We don't know if it has been remastered yet, but obviously, James Wong Howe's work ought to be seen in all its magnificence.
22 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Could Gabin Have Been Better?
bkoganbing15 January 2007
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.
28 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
a stunning film on many different levels
davidjaussi26 February 2006
Algiers is stunning film on many different levels that carries an unusual originality for the time period. The romantic chemistry between Hedy Lamarr(Gaby) Charles Boyer(Pepe)is perhaps one of the movie's most fascinating and unusual aspects. But what really makes things shine is the brilliant black and white cinematography of James Wong Howe.

There are also many different one liners and camera shots in this film that have become famous over the years and it's fun just looking for things that you've heard or seen before. I'm not sure how much Warner Brother's cartoons based their stinky skunk (Pepe le Pew) on Charles Boyer's character Pepe le Moko but there has be some correlation.

Anyway, Algiers is a grand piece of entertainment well worth the watching.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Clouded by intrigue, aglow with ill-starred romance
lora645 September 2001
I've seen this film countless times on tv, usually in the 1 a.m. time slot. Am always fascinated by it somehow. There's such an authentic atmosphere of the locale, very suspicious characters, intrigue and suspense both indoors and on the streets.

The suave Charles Boyer (as Pepe, the thief) certainly grips one's attention while he becomes more mired in the plot as it unfolds. Hedy Lamarr lights up the screen with her glowing beauty, one forgets she's supposed to be acting, but is that important? Of course not. I can't imagine the story having her engaged to marry an elderly wide-girthed fellow; my goodness, for her anything's better than that! There's a youngish Leonid Kinskey also appearing as a supporting actor, along with reliable Alan Hale (formerly Robin Hood's buddy, more or less) and Gene Lockhart, whom I've never seen in such a serious role as this one.

It's a movie that stands the test of time.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
murky, but grand
bruno-326 July 1999
I've heard of this movie, and when I finally had a chance to view it, I was hooked. I actually thought I was in Algiers and the casbah. When I first saw Hedy Lamarr make her entrance, I was hooked again. What a vision of beauty. I could see now when fans talk about legendary beauties of Hollywood, she is most mentioned. Charles Boyer was great as Pepe La Moko, and so was Gene Lochart as the informer. To me, the ending was most tragic, and I will never forget the fading ship sailing away and Hedy's vision, never to see her lover again. No wonder its a classic. They don't make movies like these anymore, the pity of it all.
19 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Back in the Casbah
dbdumonteil31 August 2008
It was made just one year after Duvivier's classic ,which even Godard (Godard!)mentioned in his "Pierrot LE Fou".Although I hate God'Art about as much as I love Duvivier,I must admit that a film that can transcend the New Wavelet's contempt possesses something magic a la "Casablanca" .

I was skeptical about the lead:aristocratic Charles Boyer replacing plebeian Gabin?I was wrong :Boyer,who began his career in France after all ,was up to scratch.And I 'd go as far as to write that Hedy Lamarr is much more attractive than Mireille Balin in the original.

All that remains is faithful like a dog: except for the scene when an old singer (Frehel) bursting into tears when she hears one of her old recordings,all the important sequences were kept.Cromwell's directing is efficient ,although it never recaptures the intensity (and the director's pessimism) of its model ,is a good film one can recommend to people who cannot get "Pepe Le Moko" .

Objections: the scene of Pierrot 's letter and the punishment of the informer is much too long and lacks suspense.Biggest gaffe is this ditty ("C'est La Vie" ) which Boyer sings and which seems out of a musical :in what is primarily a film noir,it's thoroughly incongruous.

Many of the great lines of the French classic can be heard ,notably the famous "I'm an informer,I'm not a hypocrite",and the Boyer/Lamarr pairing displays a special chemistry .The black and white makes a good use of shadows and lights.

If all the remakes were made with care like this one.....
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
A study in cultural translation
richard-17873 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw Algiers just a few days after its French original, Pepe le Moko, which doesn't do Algiers a lot of favors. So, before writing this review, I read the 20+ ones already posted here, mostly from viewers who had not seen Pepe le Moko first, to see how they reacted to Algiers without knowing the French original. Most of them liked it a lot.

While I wouldn't go that far - despite a few of the comments, I found this movie not even close to Casablanca - I did find it enjoyable for certain things, if not for others.

While I like Charles Boyer in certain movies (Gaslight, primarily), in this film he is radically inferior to his French predecessor, Jean Gabin. Gabin is very believable as a thief and member of the underworld; it is hard to imagine Boyer surviving there 10 minutes. Gabin could be rough and charming; Boyer is "suave", but there is no dark underside to it.

Hedy Lamarr is indeed beautiful, and sometimes gets to do some acting here. She never overacts (as Boyer and some of the others do), so she is always fun to watch.

The best acting, however, is in the character roles, some of which are in no way inferior to the original. Gene Lockart's death screen is well acted and magnificently staged; it is one of the best moments in the movie. Joseph Calleia is very good as the police agent throughout.

Still, the best thing in this movie, for me, was the lighting and camera work. Often atmospheric, some of the shots are very strikingly composed. The next time I watch this movie, it would be tempting to do so with the sound off for most of it - though not when Vincent Scotto's music is playing. It is haunting and very evocative; another of the best features of the film.

My only complaint about this movie is the end, which some previous reviewers liked. (Here comes the spoiler.) In the original, Jean Gabin commits suicide when he realizes he can't have Gaby; it is a chilling scene very well done. In the American remake Boyer gets shot while running to the ship; it makes him much more of a victim without control of his destiny, and in that sense was a real aggravation after having seen how it "could have been done." Other changes in the movie are interesting examples of cultural differences: in the French original, Gaby is the well-paid mistress of the wealthy overweight Frenchman; there is no question of marriage between them. In the American remake, they are engaged, and while there is no suggestion either loves the other, the relationship would have been seen as less immoral. In the same sense, the low-life is the French Casbah is much more clearly low: prostitution, etc. That is all glossed over in the American remake.

So, a movie worth watching, especially for the lighting, the camera work, and some of the direction, as well as the acting of some of the subordinates. Watch this movie first, and then Pepe le Moko, and you will enjoy it more.
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
A Pre-War Treasure: The Casbah as Imagined by a Decaying Eurocentrism
Ralph Michael Stein28 July 2004
"Algiers" is director John Cromwell's remake of the French film, "Pepe Le Moko" which appeared only a year earlier. The Gallic flick starred Jean Gabin, then and now one of the truly great actors to emerge from that country. So Cromwell took a risk giving the lead role of jewel thief Pepe to young actor Charles Boyer. The risk paid off - and continues to do so as this fascinating prewar movie is readily available on budget-priced DVD.

Pepe is wanted in metropolitan France for stealing jewelry but not, apparently, for any crimes of violence. He's hunkered down in Algiers's famous "casbah," the native quarter whose name is evocative of mystery and, of course, sensuality. Pepe seems to be a sort of Great White Crime Boss in the native quarter where locals both protect and respect him. It's never clear how he ascended to that height.

Pepe has a beautiful lover, Ines, played by the truly gorgeous Sigrid Gurie. Legend has it that "Algiers" was to be the vehicle to propel this Scandanavian actress to wide fame but in reality her film career was rather short. The winner in this case, besides Boyer, was newcomer Hedy Lamar whose role as Gaby is central to Pepe's loss of control over his small world and, eventually, of himself.

Gaby arrives in Algiers engaged to a fat, vulgar borderline-loathsome older man who clearly regards her as a trophy bought and paid for. Why she needed this creep isn't clear. What is clear is her falling in love with Pepe who abandons the devoted and clinging Ines for this right-off-the-boat hothouse beauty.

A Parisian police official is in Algiers (Algeria, a French colony for those who don't know history) determined to collar Pepe. His forays into the casbah meet with no success and quiet derision from both the locals and some of the French police who understand that the casbah is honeycombed with escape routes and populated with folks eager to thwart the gendarmerie. A very interesting character is Inspector Slimane, Joseph Calleia. Amused by the foolish antics of his superior, Slimane knows the casbah and in his own way is determined to bring Pepe to justice. His mission isn't kept from Pepe and the two have a cordial relationship with the cop telling the crook that eventually he will be the cause of his own downfall.

Sarcastic, witty and observant, Slimane is an arresting character (pun intended). It's not clear if he's a native gone over to the police or a Frenchman who has jumped the reservation and found a more comfortable life straddling two cultures. There's something almost Russian in his outlook and words.

"Algiers" ends with a famous scene that while not at the level of the closing moments of "Casablanca" nonetheless rightfully shares pride of place with that all-time great movie.

Boyer is powerful in a role in which, through circumstances he could have controlled but didn't, he slides into a mortal abyss.

A must-see movie for anyone interested in prewar films that reflect an actually racist view of non-European life at once almost ridiculous but at the same time dramatically engaging.

And let's not forget yesterday's lunacies: Cromwell, a director with many films under his belt, was blacklisted through most of the 50s and his career never rebounded from that extra-legal punishment for non-crimes.

8/10
45 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Lamarr's first American film
lastliberal4 April 2008
No, Charles Boyer never said, "Take me to the Casbah." That is just as false as "Play it again, Sam," a line from a film that will come to mind when watching this one.

Boyer (Conquest, Fanny, Gaslight) picked up his second Oscar nomination for this film. He plays a jewel thief that has found a haven in the Casbah in French Algiers. He has a hot girlfriend in Sigrid Gurie, but he sees Hedy Lamarr and it is all over. he falls head over heels and spends languid afternoon reminiscing about a Paris that he can never see again.

Director John Cromwell, who had his career ruined by McCarthy fascist in the 50s, did a very good job of presenting the excitement of the Casbah and the attempts by the French police to trap Boyer. He was ably assisted by the sets decorated by Alexander Toluboff (Stagecoach, Vogues of 1938) and the cinematography of James Wong Howe (The Rose Tattoo, Hud), who along with Toluboff received an Oscar nomination for this film, the first of ten in his career.

Just like Kong, it wasn't man, but beauty killed the beast. In this case, the beauty of Hedy Lamarr proved to be the death of Boyer in an ending that will again remind one of Casablanca.
13 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
A Unique and Captivating Movie
marxi22 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*********************MILD SPOILERS*************************************

I like this movie. Algiers has an exotic and mysterious air about it. There is also a message about yearning for love and how it makes us crazy. This movie portrays glimmers of hope and then there is desperation and sadness and loss.

Pepe Le Moko and the beautiful tourist (Hedy Lamarr) struggle with the choices they've made in life and wonder if they could find happiness together. Dare they risk it? You can sense them wrestling with their thoughts and emotions. Shall they simply exist or attempt to find happiness together? What about the other people in their lives they will affect?

Charles Boyer is terrific as Pepe Le Moko, a criminal hiding in the Casbah, where he and others live in their own strange world. He isn't portrayed as perfect, and he has a cruel side to his nature. Sigrid Gurie and Hedy Lamarr are stunning in their roles. These beautiful women are captivating, and Hedy Lamarr says more with her eyes than words could ever express.

The lead characters aren't alone in revealing fascinating glimpses of human nature. Joesph Calleia shows ever increasing cunning and snakelike patience as he waits for the right time and opportunity to capture Pepe Le Moko. Gene Lockhart is a tour de force as a treacherous scoundrel who wants to turn Pepe Le Moko in for a reward. Johnny Downs is instantly lovable as the protege that Pepe cares for like a kid brother. The fascinating characters in the Casbah are too numerous too mention. And despite all of the tragedy, this movie is somehow bittersweet.

Another strong suit of this movie is the music. It's wonderful. I could listen to the score by itself, but why do that when it enhances the movie so beautifully?

What a treat to discover this old movie from 1938. My rating is 92/100. Worth buying. Unfortunately, the DVD copy I have has obviously had some of the edges of the film cropped off to make it fit the TV screen. It was well worth buying despite this, just to be able to watch this fantastic movie.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Great FILM !
mikelcat22 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a really well done film that documents the true nature of the Casbah . A ghetto section of Algiers it was home to many peoples and religions , the most common theme was as a hideout for illegal activity and a haven for fugitives from justice somewhere in the world .The atmosphere is well done as a rather dank and dusty centuries old maze of connecting modules one leading to the other where only natives have a chance of navigating their way through .Pepe le Moko (Charles Boyer) is a fugitive from France jewel thief who longs to be home , Sigrid Gurie his shadow who does anything for his love .And Hedy Lamarr as the beauty who swoops in and steals Pepe's heart and good sense .A very entertaining film to watch . Try it !
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good Atmospheric Drama
Snow Leopard11 April 2002
Though "Algiers" is not so well-remembered today, it's not hard to see why it was quite popular in its time. It's a good atmospheric drama that makes you feel as if you were part of the story, and it also has a good cast and interesting characters. The story is told well, and most of the time it moves at a good pace.

The atmosphere of the 'Casbah' is set up nicely from the beginning. The opening scene, as the police discuss how they might catch the notorious Pepe Le Moko, is very efficient in describing the city and its peculiarities, and it is a good prologue to the story that follows. As it progresses, there are a lot of interesting details with some good photography that bring everything to life. Boyer and Lamarr are pretty good as the leads, although the supporting cast and characters are least as important to making everything work. It has several fine character actors such as Gene Lockhart, Alan Hale, Joseph Calleia, and Paul Harvey, who all play interesting roles.

Aside from a couple of slow spots and perhaps a few minor signs of age, this is an entertaining drama that is well worth tracking down for anyone who enjoys classic cinema.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Wonderful performances by Lamarr and Boyer
lewis-5127 April 2009
This is a great movie well worth watching. The interaction between the leads, Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, is nothing short of beautiful.

Other people have described the plot, the setting, and the great photography, so I will skip that. Some have written here that Algiers compares well to "Casablanca." I can't agree with that. This movie doesn't have the heroism, the larger than life situation, the love triangle. For that reason, I can't rate it more than 8 (while I rate Casablanca a 10+).

As has also been noted here, Algiers is a remake of the French movie "Pepe Le Moko". I have not seen that movie. I'm sure I will someday. Some people have written that the French movie is better, and that the lead actor there, Gabin, is more believable as a gangster. That may well be true; I will not argue it. It doesn't matter. Boyer is excellent here. His personna is completely believable to me, and, frankly, I don't much care how closely he matches authentic French gangsters. No wonder so may female movie fans fell in love with him!

The movie is made even more appealing by the secondary characters. Gene Lockart's informer is well acted. Joseph Calleia does a great job as the "native" detective who has easy access to the Casbah. Sigrid Gurie is great as the jealous courtesan. Alan Hale Sr. is great as the witty erudite criminal. The rough fellow who always says "OK" was fun. I also enjoyed the slim bodyguard dressed in white who never said anything; not sure which actor this is.

If there is a flaw, it is maybe an overall dearth of intensity. Maybe this is a question of evolving movie-making style, a difference of eras. I think we expect criminals these days to show a lot of anger, to hear a lot of nasty snarling dialogue. You aren't going to hear that in this movie.

And frankly I don't care because this is not a crime drama, it's a tragic love story. Which brings us to the main reason to see this movie. Hedy Lamarr.

What can I say? "Wow" is hardly sufficient. "Holy @#!&%" doesn't help much. Of all the beautiful actresses there have been, of all the kinds of beauty -- cute, girl-next-door, classic, sultry, innocent, exotic, hot, mysterious, haughty, bombshell, va-va-voom, ethereal -- Hedy Lamarr had the best. No she didn't have the sexiest body; she was actually a little thin. She wasn't the oh-so-appealing cute type like Meg Ryan, or the sexy bombshell like Marilyn Monroe, or the exotic Greta Garbo. This is pure human female beauty. And it's not just some portrait or statue. She speaks, she smiles, she moves. There are at least three scenes of conversations with Charles Boyer that I just can't watch often enough. By direction or not, she slightly underacts. It's been said that she really wasn't that good at acting. Could be; again, who cares? She communicates plenty to me.

So applaud it for the plot, the photography, the great secondary characters, the wonderful Charles Boyer. And drink a toast to Hedy Lamarr.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Brilliantly innovative love story
theowinthrop11 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
ALGIERS is about a man who is trapped meeting a woman who is likewise trapped. They are perfect together, but their love is not going to get anywhere. For he is a convict on the run from a long prison sentence - hiding in a disreputable "colorful" section of the city of Algiers in (what was then) France's North African "departments" - but is now the city in Algeria. Pepi Le Moko is only safe in the "Casbah", because, although a respected police detective like Inspector Simane is tolerated few others are. But Pepi dreams of his homeland. He misses France, specifically his native Paris. But it is impossible to return without facing serious criminal penalties. He meets Gabrielle ("Gaby") who is a tourist with her best friend and their two fiancés. Both fiancés are substantial men (Gaby's is M. Giraux - a fat, unsympathetic type who knows what he wants and will pay for it). But her background was as a worker in the basement of a department store - marriage will free her from that. But she will be tied to her fat husband.

The two find in each other more than a heavenly spark. Both remind each other of a happier world: that of Paris where both grew up (ironically in nearby neighborhoods). They really discover each other talking about Metro stations in Paris' subway. And both realize that with each other they might be free again. But can they get together? It is a marvelous film. Pepi does have a girl (Ines) who is trying to awaken in him her own passions, but finds first she is battling his desire to return to France, and then he is pursuing Gaby. There are also the members of Pepi's gang, who are his eyes into the goings on in the city outside his sanctuary. And there are dangers in the sanctuary: traitors like Regis who can be deadly in their activities.

In the end we are never bored by this film. It was (with MAYERLING) the film that introduced Charles Boyer to movie audiences as a great film lover (and here a sad one). It was also the film that re-enforced stardom on Hedy Lamar after ECSTASY. Sigried Lurie's Ines is intensely tragic, and Gene Lockhart properly sleazy as Regis (and his final scene very satisfactory to the audience). As the disagreeable Gireaux, Robert Grieg showed a vicious cynicism his butlers in film comedies rarely showed.

But best, in some ways, is Joseph Calleia as the Inspector. Normally playing villains and sleaze-balls, Calleia had a chance here to be on the side of the law, and also to show a sympathetic understanding of Boyer's Pepe. He can tell that the man is hurting for his homeland, and while he is willing to use this to get him out of the Casbah he does respect Pepe's feelings. In the end he regrets his pursuit's conclusion. A very satisfactory conclusion to the film though.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Boyer and Lamarr trouble in paradise
funkyfry24 September 2002
Satisfying, exotic American version of the French film "Pepe Le Moko" (which, I've heard, was distributed here in the U.S. under its French title, which means Pepe the Pimp, unbeknowest to the censors). Boyer leads the right star performance and Lamarr gets her ingenue role as the girl he loves but can't see outside of the Casbah. When the police try to arrest Pepe in the Casbah, he quickly disappears and they receive no cooperation from the locals. To lure him out of that district's confines, the cops set up a trap using the unknowing Lamarr as bait. their sad, brief romance ends, presumably, with his incarceration. Similar in plot, but not in tone, to contemporary "gangster" flicks.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
They Had A Date With Fate In Ze Casbah!
Jem Odewahn15 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Cromwell's ALGIERS is basically a shot-by-shot English language remake of the French film PEPE LE MOKO (1937). This is not to say it is an unworthy remake- quite the contrary. With the smoldering Charles Boyer (nominated for Best Actor) as the French-born criminal hiding out in the depths of the Casbah, and the stunningly beautiful Hedy Lamarr as the engaged French tourist who he falls for, ALGIERS is extremely worthwhile viewing. Cromwell's capable and creative direction, impressive production and set detailing and the smoky black-and-white atmosphere photographed by stalwart James Wong Howe all make ALGIERS a fine film. It obviously influenced Curtiz's much-lauded CASABLANCA with it's depiction of the crowded, bustling exotic Casbah.

The film hangs on the premise of career criminal Boyer allowing himself to fall for a woman, placing him in danger as he dares to venture out of the confining, yet safe, Casbah in a moment of passionate madness. Lamarr, in supreme close-up represents everything that the homesick Boyer longs for. His initial interest in her is for her jewelery, yet in a series of stunning, stunning shots he instead focuses on Hedy's tantalizing mouth instead of the sparkling jewels dripping off her wrists. Cromwell films the romance in forbidden snatches, with Boyer and Lamarr heating up the screen in their roles. In the film's most erotic moments Boyer, endlessly reminded of his longed-for homeland by Lamarr, likens the sound of her heartbeat to a subway train and the smell of her dark hair to the underground.

Boyer becomes an intensely tragic figure as the film progresses, with his final scene (the film's finest) extremely memorable and oft-imitated. Boyer, lured out of "ze Casbah" by his passion, finds a sad, departing (endlessly beautiful) Lamarr staring out at the Moroccan shoreline from her ship. Boyer, handcuffed, screams out her name, running towards her, rattling on the gates that bar him. He is shot and killed, yet in the end is "free". Wonderfully presented.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Fantastic backdrop and Hedy Lamarr, too!
kezcyr29 August 2005
What's not to like about this movie? The line "Take Me to the Casbah" is quite timeless... I think I probably first heard it from Bugs Bunny. Well, this is the movie that explains the line (i.e. Movie Trivia for Dummies). There is some great footage (which I do not know for sure, but would bet is actual) from "the Casbah" section of Algiers...Fascinating. There is also the great Charles Boyer as Pepe. He's suave, debonair, fabulously foreign, and also a complete louse ala his mistress, Ines. I just hate that all of the most fabulous movie stars are dead!! Consider also Pepe's "new" love interest, played by Hedy Lamarr. Good grief! She is gorgeous on par with Rita Hayworth in "Gilda." She's very posh, but likes slumming it, too. You can't help but root for this couple to beat the odds.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Almost as classic as Casablanca
timmauk28 March 2001
I have never heard of this film before, but have heard the famous line from it, "Let me take you to the Casbah." When I saw this at a video store I bought it (it was $2.00!!). Pepe Le Moto, I mean come on. This has got to be a really over the top one. With nothing to do, I watched it that night.

WOW!! What a film. I will go on to say that it is almost as good as Casablanca! Though it is not about the war, being made in 1938. The acting, sets, lighting, and most important, the script. I didn't experence one dull moment. In the beginning you got to learn about the characters and then it moved like crazy. The acting was superb and I can not believe that it did not win any oscars, though it did receive 4 nominations (including best actor-Boyer and best supporting actor-Lockart).

With only one other comment here, I guess no one else has seen this classic either. You simply must watch this when you get the chance!
16 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Come Wiz Me to Zee Casbah
marcslope7 August 2001
Boyer doesn't actually say that, of course -- in fact, he never LEAVES the Casbah, so how could he -- but it's the general idea. I'm told this independently-produced Hollywood classic is almost a shot-for-shot remake of Duvivier's "Pepe Le Moko," from the previous year; I've never seen that one, but it's hard to believe Duvivier could have matched John Cromwell's fabulous production design, combining skillful backlot compositions with second-unit location projections, or the moody James Wong Howe photography, with the sweeping tracking shots capturing life in every corner.

The story may be no more than standard romantic hokum, but whether the filmmakers intended it or not, the movie has a wonderful existential melancholy, with Boyer's heavy eyelids viewing the world impassively, accepting his fate unquestioningly. Add to that a fine rogue's gallery of character actors (especially nice work from Gene Lockhart and Alan Hale), and you have brilliant Hollywood escapism. The judicious, sparing use of music (unusual in those Max Steiner days of underline-everything-with-a-melody) adds to the atmosphere. And it matters not a whit that Hedy Lamarr is not much of an actress here, or that every plot turn is utterly predictable.
11 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Loved this film
lifeguardlarry26 September 2005
Pepe le Moko (French) inspired Algiers which inspired Casablanca. The latter has the better story but Algiers is a better film. Such a great romance. Such adult dialogue. Such marvelous acting. Made at a time when European culture was the marvel of the world...and you can see why. To modern sensibilities the treatment of "natives" seems racist but people of the time were more honest, less politically correct. Victors thought they were superior and europeans had been victors for centuries. Some of the minor characters are mere caricatures and fail to achieve authenticity but that's forgivable considering how good everything else is. A theme from the score was used in a modern film - Gladiator I think. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can tell me.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The film (and the man) which was the inspiration for my favorite Looney Tunes character
Here is the film (and the man) which was the inspiration for my favorite Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew. This film starring Charles Boyer, Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr. 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. John Howard Lawson wrote the screenplay. Though admittedly, I had never read the novel or seen the French film. The movie was a sensation because it was the first Hollywood film starring Hedy Lamarr whose stunning beauty became the main feature for moviegoers.

The story is like in the original French film (and novel), about a beautiful rich girl Gabrielle (Gaby) ,who is on holiday in Algiers with her fiancé, and meets and falls in love with the notorious jewel thief Pepe le Moko, has for two years lived in, and virtually ruled, the mazelike, impenetrable Casbah, the "native quarter" of Algiers. I had heard of the film and I just had see this film. So I had taped on TCM and I watched it and I love it. And you know that song that was played (and sung) in the film "C'est la vie" it's kind of catchy.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Pepe le Moko
steph920107 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Algiers is not a classic, it is a perversion of the wonderful original Pepe le Moko, directed by Duvivier and starring a much more attractive and charming Pepe, Jean Gabin. If you want to fully experience the Casbah and the characters in Algiers, I recommend you don't even watch this movie and see Pepe le Moko instead, for it is much more elaborate, more beautifully filmed, the lines are not clichéd and the characters adhere much more to reality. Furthermore, the ending is so dramatic and key to Pepe's character that you'll find the Algiers version intolerable. Although Algiers does an almost excellent job mimicking each scene, the acting falls short as does the credibility of the characters. Plus, the wardrobe is truly breath-taking in all scenes, particularly Pepe's in the last scene and Gaby's (at all times) but also when she's on the boat. Frankly, Algiers is cheap as far as imitations go.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
If You Ever Wondered Why Casablanca Is A Classic . . .
Dan1863Sickles25 December 2013
ALGIERS is just like Casablanca -- only slower, sleazier, sadder.

I realize this movie came first, but it's like every single ingredient was copied -- and improved on -- by the team of screenwriters who hammered together CASABLANCA a few years later.

1.) Cynical, Shady Hero. Check. Except that Pepe LeMoko is just a crook. There's no hint of courage or self-sacrifice in his past. Also he sings a love song while polishing his shoes. I wanted to shove him right off the balcony!

2.) Innocent, High-Class Heroine. Check. Except that Gabrielle in ALGIERS isn't really innocent. She's not truly in love with a distinguished freedom fighter, she's marrying a fat, disgusting slob for money. But at least she looks good in diamonds and jewels!

3.) Corrupt, Lovable Police Inspector Who Secretly Admires the Hero. Check. Except Claude Rains in CASABLANCA plays his part like he's having the time of his life -- like it's FUN to be a corrupt cop. And you sense how much he loves Rick, even when Rick is pointing a gun straight at his heart. ("That is my least vulnerable spot.") The guy in ALGIERS is okay, but he looks so sad and depressed all the time. It's almost like he knows how the movie is going to end!

4.) Slutty Bad Girl Who Clings To The Hero. Check. Except in ALGIERS the local girl who's crazy about Pepe is actually tougher, braver, classier, and more loyal than the heroine! And that kind of shoots the main love story right in the foot, don't you think?

5.) A Colorful Supporting Cast Made Up Of The Usual Suspects. Check. Except that Pepe's gang are all wildly miscast (Alan "Little John" Hale as a sleazy Middle Eastern merchant? I bet the Sheriff of Nottingham thought that one up!) And then there's Stanley Fields (still looking for the Island of Dr. Moreau) and a couple of random guys. These people are just, well, creepy. Oh, and watch when they torture the stool pigeon to death for about TEN MINUTES! Great stuff, if you're watching a Cagney movie, but this is a love story. Isn't it? Isn't it?

6.) Bittersweet Tragic Ending Where Our Hero Doesn't Get The Girl. Check. Except that running after an ocean liner just looks stupid. Watching a plane take off is classy. I don't know if anyone even realized just how funny it was when Pepe was bolting down the dock screaming like a banshee -- and then gibbering like an idiot. And what were Pepe's last words? Here's looking at you, kid? We'll always have Paris? No, I think Pepe was saying, let's get it right next time!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
A smoky encounter
Michael Bo20 February 2005
While John Cromwell's Hollywood remake of Julien Duvivier's 'Pepe le Moko' from the year before is evidently the lesser film, still it has its share of artistic success. Cameraman James Wong Howe establishes a shifty, exotically attractive and morally uncertain milieu out of the casbah, the sordid urban jungle that is a city unto itself in the center of Algiers.

This is where the outcasts live, from all over the world, criminals, prostitutes, go-getters. French jewel thief Pepe lives here too, in exile but surrounded by good, loyal friends of every ethnic persuasion. Here he makes quick escapes over the rooftops and everybody protects him. The police has futile dreams of luring him out of the casbah where they can get to him, and maybe a visiting Parisian siren can be of help? Cromwell's version is very faithful to the original French film, and in every instance that I could think of is it inferior. But Howe's refined cinematography, the lighting and, most of all, Charles Boyer all make this a worthwhile watching experience. He is suave and magnetic, his accent intoxicating, and the scenes between him and the sultry Hedy Lamarr are cinema history, their meeting in the sleazy club where long, lingering closeups show the way he impresses himself on her, and this is one extremely sexy, even smoky encounter.

So, watch it, and then do yourself the favor of looking up Julien Duvivier's film, a vastly better one.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews