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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Algiers (1938)

A well known thief (Charles Boyer) lives in the native quarter of Algiers called the Casbah where he is protected from the police by the citizens of the Casbah. But when he encounters a beautiful Parisian tourist (Hedy Lamarr) slumming in the Casbah, his fate is sealed. A painstaking remake of the 1937 Julien Duvivier film PEPE LE MOKO which starred Jean Gabin in the title role which was based on the novel by Henri La Barthe. Directed by John Cromwell, it may not be quite on the level of the Duvivier film but on its own merits, it's quite good. If you were ever curious what made Boyer a star, this film should answer your question. He's almost impossibly romantic yet never soft, there's still a cold intensity that alerts you that this is not a man to mess with. In her American film debut, Lamarr is so incredibly stunning in her beauty that her acting seems irrelevant. Add James Wong Howe's stylish B&W cinematography and you have a smoky treat. With Sigrid Gurie, who's good but her clinging character becomes annoying after awhile. Also with Gene Lockhart (Oscar nominated for his work here), Joseph Calleia, Leonid Kinskey, Joan Woodbury and Alan Hale. 

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