special-event-pepe-le-moko-jan-21stBased on the book of the same name by Detective Ashelbe (aka Henri La Bathe) this film is credited as being an early example of French film noir. Pépé Le Moko, on the run from the authorities, takes refuge in the Kasbah of Algiers. Pépé is a suave and sophisticated ladies’ man, but a drinker, and a wanted thief. Inspector Slimane, knowing his prey’s Achilles heel is Pépé’s desire to return to his beloved Paris, sets up a honey trap with the beautiful Gaby. “Duvivier’s Pépé Le Moko really is a remarkable motion picture. It is so much more than just a heist or crime saga set in an exotic locale. It is a story of longing, darkness, romance, and complexity. … Pépé le Moko is a masterpiece. Jordan Richardson, Canadian Cinephile. (Cert PG)
Dir: Julien Duvivier 91 mins France 1937
Introduced by Dr Ann Miller, formerly of the Department of Modern Languages, Leicester University.

Programme Notes

Special event
Pepe Le Moko
France 1937 97mins Cert PG

Tonight we welcome back Ann Miller, an expert on Francophone cinema who has visited ABCD annually since 1996, to introduce and discuss this French classic.

Pépé, in the Casbah in Algiers, is on the run from the police but not only from the authorities. Women and rivals would also like to find him for different reasons, of course (he is played by Jean Gabin, after all). He is safe where he is for the moment but circumstances change and danger lurks again.

“Pepe Le Moko rightfully takes its place [as a great film] in my opinion, even though it can easily be relegated to the ranks of ‘mere’ thrillers, gangster flicks and potboilers if one is so inclined. The film has acquired a high place of honour in the annals of French cinema, consistently regarded as a pivotal moment in the emergence of poetic realism, film noir and the emergence of the anti-hero as a staple of mainstream popular entertainment. Beyond its massive genre influence, the film firmly established Jean Gabin as the supreme lead actor of French cinema over the course of the next two decades or so, and also serves as an extraordinary relic of France’s colonial era prior to World War II. There are just so many things to appreciate about this film [ … ]” David Blakeslee,

Pépé le Moko – Jean Gabin
Carlos – Gabriel Gabrio
Le Grand Père – Saturnin Fabre
Régis – Fernand Charpin
Inspecteur Slimane – Lucas Gridoux
Pierrot – Gilbert Gil
L’Arbi – Marcel Dalio
Maxime – Charles Granval
Jimmy – Gaston Modot

Director – Julien Duvivier
Screenplay – Julien Duvivier, Ashelbé
Original novel – Ashelbé
Cinematography – Marc Fossard, Jules Kruger
Editing – Marguerite Beaugé
Music – Vincent Scotto, Mohamed Yguerbouchen
Producers – Robert Hakim, Raymond Hakim


“The introduction and discussion afterwards were excellent.”

“Many thanks to Ann for such an illuminating talk.”

“Amazingly undated – but I thought he got on to the ship rather too easily.”

“Very much of its time!”

“A well made film”

“The power of love ….”

“And all for the sake of woman! You could almost see this as a Shakespearian tragedy – it would have almost made an opera.”

“An interesting artefact as a gangster proto-noir but the predictable pace, as well as the colonial overtones, may alienate modern viewers. Ann Miller’s academic analysis helped us appreciate the cultural and historical context of the film.”

“Good in-depth analysis – the film held your attention throughout.”

“I had trouble keeping up with the sub-titles but it was a brilliant film.”

“What wonderful fashions!”


A:8, B:18, C:3, D:2, E:0 to give 76%