Pépé le Moko

1937

Pépé le Moko

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,458
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Pépé le Moko Photos

Movie Info

In this film, Pepe le Moko is a well-known criminal mastermind who eludes the French police by hiding in the Kasbah section of Algiers. He knows that he is safe in this labyrinthine netherworld, where he is surrounded by fellow thieves and cutthroats.

Cast

Jean Gabin
as Pepe le Moko
Mireille Balin
as Gaby Gould
Louis Gridoux
as Insp. Slimane
Saturnin Fabre
as Grandfather
Gilbert Gil
as Pierrot
Lucas Gridoux
as Inspector Slimane, Insp. Slimane
Marcel Dalio
as L'Abri, L'Arbi
Phillipe Richard
as Inspector Janvier
Frehel
as Tania
Olga Lord
as Aicha
Renée Carl
as Mother Tarte
Rene Bergeron
as Insp. Meunier, Inspector Meunier
Charles Granval
as Maxime Kleep
Philippe Richard
as Insp. Janvier
Paul Escoffier
as Commissioner Louvain
Frank Maurice
as An Inspector
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Critic Reviews for Pépé le Moko

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (31)

  • Interesting movement holds through the entirety. Life in the native quarter, with its squalor and intrigues, is particularly well presented and photographed.

    Apr 27, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Film noir as we know (and love) it is just around the corner from here.

    Feb 9, 2006
  • The French original has it all over on the Hollywood version in the way it conveys atmosphere.

    Aug 16, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Pepe le Moko, made in 1937, begins with that tinny, swooning French soundtrack music that conjures up European movies before the war, but it isn't until a few minutes later that you realize you're in for something special.

    Aug 9, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • A timeless romantic thriller that steeps us in one of those great artificial movie worlds that become more overpowering than reality itself.

    Jun 27, 2002 | Rating: 4/4
  • Mr. Gabin was no stranger to playing doomed men on film, and his Pépé is the grandest of the damned.

    May 23, 2002 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pépé le Moko

  • May 01, 2015
    Famous French jewel thief Pepe is hiding out in the Casbah in North Africa where he has become the boss of everything ... except his own life, because if he tries to leave the multi-diversity enclave of crooked streets and rooftops the police'll see he does 20 years at the very least. After 2 years the poor guy is going crazy thinking that it'd be better to be nobody back home in the City of Lights than to be king in the African stronghold. With the usual suspects as henchmen, and beauties as alluring bait, this old black and whiter is chock full of nuance, subtlety, and romance. Very entertaining.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 01, 2011
    Hollywood may have had its famous gangsters and femme fatales during the 30s (and even the 40s), but Jean Gabin's landmark performance became the chauvinistic and unscrupulous icon for subsequent gangster portrayals. Despite its cheap budget, Pépé le Moko has an intriguing story that would be borrowed by several French, Italian and American classics (most notably <i>Casablanca</i> (1942) and wonderful locations easily appreciated by a remarkable cinematography. It's a longstanding legend. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    Okay foreign movie, but I should really watch it again before I write more about it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Aug 12, 2009
    I should confess something up front: I'm not much of a "Casablanca" fan. For me, it's just a solid B-movie which happens to have two legendary actors and an unusual number of quotable lines. Released five years before "Casablanca," "Pépé le Moko" obviously influenced its more famous successor. For starters, we get an exotic, North African setting (Algeria, in this case) which might as well be credited as a co-star. There's also an anti-hero, a doomed romance, a notable piano scene, a colorful batch of side characters and, yes, plenty of fezzes. So, three cheers for "Pépé"'s spot in an important cinematic timeline. But this is a foreign movie for people who don't like foreign movies. It may be French, but the filmmaking scans as old Hollywood. Jean Gabin is Pépé, a master bank robber who's hiding out in the seaside Casbah district. Described onscreen as a "teeming maze," it's a fantastic collection of sets. The homes are chaotically crammed together such that the sky is barely visible, and there doesn't seem to be a pair of perpendicular streets anywhere (or a level surface larger than a bedroom). An opening police briefing serves as a wonderful introduction to the territory, but the plot soon zeroes in on Pépé. He hardly does anything worse than raise his voice during the film, but we're assured that he's a ruthless criminal with a long list of spectacular thefts. He has a diverse entourage who jockeys for his attention, but most crucial among them are young Pierrot, tough guy Carlos, clumsy informant Regis, embedded cop Slimane (a friendly adversary) and a gypsy girlfriend named Inès. Pépé is a free man, but he's virtually imprisoned anyway. The Casbah is too volatile an area for the police to successfully raid and, much to his frustration, he knows that the only way to avoid arrest is to never leave. His shaky situation comes to a boil when he meets Gaby, a classy temptress with eyebrows like insect feelers. They have little common ground beyond a fondness for Paris but, naturally, they fall in love in an instant. Because this is a movie. Pépé begins sneaking away from Inès to pursue his true desire, but we realize that following his heart will only lead to a fatal mistake. Gabin and the claustrophobic snarl of the Casbah are what's most memorable about "Pépé le Moko." The versatile Gabin even croons an unexpected song (seemingly a pattern in '30s French movies). Another musical vignette features an aging gypsy wistfully singing along with a scratchy record she made during her prime -- it's perhaps the most touching scene. Call it an early film noir, a top example of French Poetic Realism or simply a romantic gangster picture. It's exceptionally well-made but, personally, I found myself longing for the more distinctive quirks of Jean Vigo or René Clair.
    Eric B Super Reviewer

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