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Pepe le Moko
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Genre:Art/Foreign
Year:1937
Rating:NR
Length:1 Hour 34 Minutes
Cast:Julien Duvivier, Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Line Noro

This Algiers-set thriller truly belongs to its eponymous antihero, who is played with resilient gallows charm by hard-eyed, tight-lipped French actor Jean Gabin. Pep‚ is an expatriate thief who, cornered in the Casbah, yearns for the air of Paris. All the while, he tries to keep his gang tethered. He leaves one woman only to tumble madly for a ravishing tourist (Mireille Balin), who draws him, … la Dillinger, into a fatal hail of bullets. As hard to escape as the femme fatale here is the hell-on-earth explored by director Julien Duvivier's snaking camera. Duvivier's Casbah is a death pit chock-full of latticed shadows, smoky intrigues, and gritty wit. As the quintessence of that fatalistic form known as Poetic Realism, Pep‚ le Moko is an ominous masterwork that crucially paved the way for American film noir. The Criterion Collection DVD features a newly restored print plus a wide variety of interviews and other background information on Gabin and the film. Eddy Crouse

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