Pepe Le Moko (1937)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

France, 1937.  .  Scenario by , Julien Duvivier, adaptation by , dialogue by , based on the novel by Henri La Barthe.  Cinematography by , .  Produced by , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Think of it as the inspiration for Casablanca. is the coolest guy on the planet as the title character, a shady underworld leader who hides out in the Moroccan Casbah, avoiding the authorities and determined to never be caught. Protected by a network of fellow gangsters and local friends, his paranoia is seriously threatened when he falls in love with a society dame who normally would only lose her diamonds to him, not her whole heart. Julien Duvivier’s directorial style, which includes seamless editing and starry-eyed photography, is excellent, but the story leaves a lot to be desired: most of the film feels like it’s sitting around waiting for a plot until it gets some motivation in its last third. Still, it is considered a classic by many critics, and if you get a chance to see the beautiful restored print that has been going around lately thanks to the Rialto company’s work, you’ll clearly see why.

The Criterion Collection:  #172

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