Arlecchino Cinema > 11:00


Julien Duvivier


Saturday 22/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Pépé le Moko is a criminal on the run. He takes refuge in the busy neighbourhood of Casbah in Algiers, a no-go area for the police. There, he falls in love with a sophisticated French courtesan known as Gaby, who will entice him out of his lair and lead him out into the French quarter, where the police can capture him.
This adaptation of Henri La Barthe’s original novel was written by Duvivier himself with Henri Jeanson and Jacques Constant. Duvivier had been an established director since the beginning of the 30s, following on the success of David Golder. And Pépé le Moko was to be his next great hit. Jean Gabin had worked with Duvivier four times previously in Maria Chapdelaine, Golgotha, La Bandera and La Belle équipe. Pépé le Moko was to make him a major star. As in most of his films of this period (except Golgotha, where he plays Pontius Pilate), Gabin is cast as a fugitive, a slave to passion. His co-star is Mireille Balin, a perfect femme fatale, whom he will meet again in Grémillon’s Gueule d’amour).
And of course, we have Fréhel, whose songs voice Pépé’s yearning for Paris, which will bring about his downfall: “He shall say, missing Paris, / Where is my windmill on the Place Blanche, / My corner store and my neighbourhood bar / Every day was Sunday / Where are my friends and my mates / Where are the old dancehalls? / And the old dancing accordion?”.
This film, steeped in French poetic realism but also in Orientalist designs and mannerisms, struck a chord in Hollywood, where two adaptations were produced, by United Artists in 1938 and then by Universal, ten years later. The first was Algiers, directed by John Cromwell with Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr and the second Casbah, directed by a young John Berry with Tony Martin and Yvonne de Carlo.

Edouard Waintrop

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1931) di Henri La Barthe. Scen.: Jacques Constant, Julien Duvivier, Henri Jeanson. F.: Marc Fossard, Jules Krüger. M.: Marguerite Beaugé. Scgf.: Jacques Krauss. Mus.: Mohamed Yguerbuchen. Int.: Jean Gabin (Pépé le Moko), Mireille Balin (Gaby Gould), Gabriel Gabrio (Carlos), Saturnin Fabre (il nonno), Line Noro (Inès), Lucas Gridoux (ispettore Slimane), Gilbert Gil (Pierrot), Marcel Dalio (Arbi), Fréhel (Tania), Paul Escoffier (commissario Louvain). Prod.: Robert Hakim, Raymond Hakim per Paris Film Production. DCP. D.: 94’. Bn.