Monday, 4 January 2016

I've Just Seen: Pepe Le Moko (1937)

Pepe Le Moko (1937)

Director: Julien Duvivier

When I first read about the French film movement poetic realism, I knew it would be something I would enjoy. This is the second example I have seen (the other is Le Grande Illusion, also starring Jean Gabin), and so far it is two for two.

Jean Gabin is wonderful as the elusive criminal Pepe Le Moko, who taunts the authorities by staying just outside their jurisdiction. Gabin plays him with such charm that you forget his crimes and want him to escape. He is matched with the very beautiful Mireille Balin, whose love threatens his safety. The setting, the Casbah in Algiers is perfect for this cat and mouse game, with its narrow streets and secret rooftop routes.

I really liked this; it was lovely to look at, with an undercurrent of langorous sensuality that draws you in; it sounds wonderful in both its soundtrack and French language (I always regret not continuing to learn French when watching French films); the acting is great and most of all the story is very entertaining. C'est magnifique!


  1. The setting here is great. I love the idea of the kasbah. What I liked less was the motivations of Gabin's character. He has too many good things going to suddenly give it all up for a dream of Paris. I liked his old girlfriend a lot better than his new one.

    1. I suppose Paris represented freedom for him, so I understood his wanting to return. I loved the kasbah; they did it so well, I wanted to walk through the rabbit-warren streets myself.