Pépé le moko is a wanted man: women long for him, rivals hope to destroy him, and the law is breathing down his neck at every turn. On the lam, Pépé is safe from the clutches of the police, until a Parisian playgirl compels him to risk his life. Pépé le Moko is a landmark of poetic realism.
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This is the original film. 'Algiers' and 'Casbah' which have similar plots came later. It stars the marvelous Jean Gabin as the title character. Freedom or love. Which is more important? It has lots of action and gunplay. It's a bit overstylized in the way Pepe is photographed. They're trying to make him seem more of a legend, which they really don't have to. Gabin is a legend.
Astonishing. Heartbreaking. Gabin is memorable as a man who lords over the Casbah, but is trapped there at the same time. The characters are all castaways cut off from their roots and set adrift in a world where they don't belong. One of the best French films I've seen.
I can't get the ending out of my head! If this were an American film, Pepe would have screamed, Gaby would have heard him, and it would have been happy times in the Casbah. But this is poetic realism.
Compares well with Le Jour Se Leve.