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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Casbah (1948)

Pepe Le Moko (Tony Martin) is the head of a gang of jewel thieves in the Casbah section of Algiers. He can't leave the Casbah (where his friends protect him) because the police are waiting to arrest him and deport him to France. But when he falls in love with a tourist (Marta Toren), he's willing to risk it all for love. Based on the 1938 film ALGIERS which in turn was based on the French film PEPE LE MOKO (1937), this is a musical version of the story. On the plus side, the songs by Harold Arlen and Leo Robin are good, the Katherine Dunham choreography is effective and the film is interesting in that it makes no attempt to lighten up the darker aspects of the plot. How many 1940s Hollywood musicals do you know that feature murder, thievery, betrayal, deceit and an unhappy ending? On the down side, the casting of the bland Tony Martin as Pepe prevents the film from being anything more than a compromised effort. Jean Gabin or Charles Boyer (the other Pepe Le Mokos) he's definitely not! Worth a look at least once though. Directed by John Berry, who became a victim of the HUAC blacklist. With Yvonne De Carlo (wasted), Peter Lorre (who steals the film), Hugo Haas, Douglas Dick, Thomas Gomez, Herbert Rudley, Virginia Gregg and Katherine Dunham.

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