Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The Casbah is a walled-in mazelike section of the city of Algiers where notorious French jewel thief Pepe Le Moko hides from the Authorities. The police know they can never catch Pepe while he's in the Casbah; there are too many hiding places, and he has too many friends. Pepe knows he can never leave the Casbah or he would immediately be captured.

A beautiful diamond covered French tourist represents everything Pepe has been isolated from: love, home, and country, and he becomes obsessed with her. Inspector Slimane, Pepe's nemesis and admirer, sees an opportunity; would the thief risk everything for this jewel?


The Casbah of Pepe Le Moko is exotic and romantic - much different from the horrific and violent Casbah that we would see in The Battle of Algiers 30 years later.

Although there had been tensions between the indigenous Muslims and the European settlers throughout the 100+ years of French rule in Algeria, the conflict wouldn't come to a head until the start of the Algerian War of Independence two decades later.


This film is stylish and dense with atmosphere. It practically invents the noir genre, and there are many great classics (Casablanca for example) that influenced by it.

This movie would be remade as Algiers one year later in an English language version starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr. Algiers would be a faithful translation, mimicking exact shots from the original, and even editing in some of the original's footage. A decade later, a musical version would be made starring Peter Lorre. But perhaps its most familiar influence today is Pepe Le Pew, the famous cartoon skunk that was based on the character of Pepe Le Moko.


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