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Pepe Le Moko

Jean Gabin , Gabriel Gabrio , Julien Duvivier    Unrated   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Jean Gabin was a brooding, rough, working-class antihero in France when his role as cool master criminal Pepe Le Moko made him an international star. In the Casbah of French Morocco, an underworld slum of winding alleys dotted with tiny rooms, bars, and hideouts, Gabin's Pepe is the prince of the criminal jungle while at the same time its prisoner. He's safe only as long as he remains in this world the local gendarmes can't penetrate. During a clumsy police raid, he meets a lovely Parisian (the exotic Mirielle Balin) adorned in expensive jewelry, but in the midst of flirting, his eyes leave her baubles and meet her gaze. Pepe falls in love and Moroccan Inspector Slimane, the only cop to have earned his respect, makes this new chink in Pepe's armor the center of his plan to capture the Casbah's most notorious gentleman thief. Gabin is marvelous as the confident yet restless Pepe, a cultured man--equal parts elegance and edgy brutality; at home in this urban jungle, but restless to escape. Julien Divivier's romantic crime classic is a prime example of French poetic realism (a precursor to American film noir, shot in a shadowy style enhanced by the claustrophobic rooms and crowded streets. It's a world where friendship and trust are everything, yet betrayal and duplicity await around every dark corner, and Pepe exacts a harsh justice on those who defy his code. Hollywood remade the film as Algiers with continental heartthrob Charles Boyer in Gabin's role. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

The notorious Pepe le Moko (Jean Gabin, in a truly iconic performance) 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 in the labyrinthine Casbah of Algiers, Pepe is safe from the clutches of the police--until a Parisian playgirl compels him to risk his life and leave its confines once and for all. Once of the most influential films of the 20th century and a landmark of French poetic realism.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling pursue for freedom� April 20 2003
Format:DVD
Pépé, a notorious gangster from Paris, has been forced to seek refuge in the maze of Casbah where he evades the police's futile attempts to capture him. During the police force's attempts to find a way to capture him, the mobster Pépé continues to raid jewelry stores and steal whatever he can get his hands on, and when he is not on a robbery he spends his time with his lover, Inès, or plays card. However, one night when Pépé is dodging the police's hopeless attempts to catch him, he crosses paths with Gaby Gould, a stunning Parisian woman. This encounter opens up Pandora's Box for Pépé and he falls in love with Gaby who reminds him of ultimate freedom. The score played in the film intensifies the perplexity of Pépé's situation that is further improved through cinematography, which produces a sense of entrapment. In addition, the misé-en-scene and acting is of world class. In end, Pépé Le Moko offers a spellbinding story, which at the end deliberately forces the audience to ponder the film's fundamental message.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The inspiration for "Pepe Le Pew". March 4 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I'm not kidding! Criteron's DVD informs us that the amorous, animated skunk would never have come to life had it not been for French actor Jean Gabin's Pepe from *Pepe le Moko*. That's reason enough to like this movie: imagine how poorer the world would be without Le Pew. In the meantime, *Pepe le Moko* itself is somewhat overrated. Released in France in 1937, it was blocked from American shores years after the American re-make *Algiers*, with the result that the critics over here have been overgenerous with their praise. The movie's claim to be the "Father of Film Noir" can be demonstrably disputed . . . and even if you accept that claim as a given, you're still left with comparing it to later, greater movies in the genre. The fact is, the French are just not naturals at noir: any country that can create several philosophical and scientific systems of CUISINE is never really going to feel the grittiness of the noir milieu where it counts -- at the gut level. (The French can even name the genre -- "noir" -- without truly understanding what it's really about.) Example? Jean Gabin himself as Pepe, the exiled French gangster languishing in Algiers' Casbah. He's too civilized an actor for this essentially rat-like role. (At least Charles Boyer, in the American version, sort of LOOKS rat-like.) Finally, the leading lady is inadequate, in terms of looks and talent. After all this you may be wondering why I'm giving *Pepe le Moko* 4 stars. Location, location, location. Most of the film's world, clogged with humanity's odors and detritus, was miraculously concocted with the use of imaginative sets, but a great deal of it was shot on location in Algiers. All in all, the setting immerses you in its exotic locale to an extent that makes *Casablanca* seem like a tawdry back-lot. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pepe never looked this good! Jan. 30 2003
Format:DVD
For those who are familiar with the sort of film Hollywood had to offer during its "Golden Age", it is a revelation to see French productions of the same period. They are completely different in every respect. Fresh, inventive, bitingly witty or hopelessly romantic, the classic French film creates a sort of visual and narrative poetry that is both an essential part of its realism, and transcends reality to create a different sort of world, rich in heightened emotion.
Films such as Marcel Carne's "Quai des Brumes", and "Le Jour Se Leve" offer definitive examples of the French poetic realist school with its appealingly romantic drifters (often played by Gabin), sad and worldly women (the likes of Michele Morgan and Arletty), its doomed romances, and shadowy mise en scene. Yet even amongst such undisputed classics as these, Pepe le Moko stands out as something special from its opening shots of the Casbah to its tragic conclusion.
It is particularly fortuitous that we should be able to compare this film to its vastly inferior American remake, Algiers (1938). All that Algiers lacks can be aptly summed up in one word: Gabin. For it is Gabin that makes "Pepe" what it/he is. It is impossible not to feel your heart beat a little quicker at his entrances and exits, and he electrifies the screen at the merest flicker of an eyelid. The film without him (Algiers) betrays the essential silliness of the central plot conceit and charming Charles Boyer does not have the force of personality to smooth out plot weaknesses. In Pepe le Moko one can see the best example to be had of the iconic Gabin role, and in the merging of star and character find something special and riveting.
Criterion has done a magnificent job with this release!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Restoration of a Timeless Classic Jan. 27 2003
Format:DVD
Many thanks to Criterion for releasing this wonderful restoration of Pepe le Moko. This film was impossible to find on dvd prior to this release, and Criterion has gone to great lengths to do a complete presentation.
The film itself looks wonderful. There's still some slight aging, etc, but most of these were retained on purpose. In addition to the film, this disc includes some great supplements including the history of "Pepe" and a direct comparison between Pepe le Moko and the English language remake the next year, Algiers.
I had seen Algiers many times prior to seeing Pepe. I loved Charles Boyer but if you have a chance to see both films I think you will agree that Pepe le moko is by far supperior. Jean Gabin's screen presence to an extent that Boyer doesn't quite match. In addition, the romance in Pepe has real sparks and chemistry. This is simply a wonderful film, and this dvd edition is excellent.
Thank you Criterion.
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