sábado, 22 de marzo de 2008

Pre-Noir Noir

Pépé le Moko (2003 DVD)
Directed by Julien Duvivier
France, 1937
In French with English subtitles

While a little less philosophical than a few of the other Criterion films I've seen of late, 1937's Pépé le Moko more than makes up for that with a stripped-down story that's just wildly entertaining instead. Sort of a pre-noir film noir, this black-and-white classic follows its suave but criminal antihero (Jean Gabin in a deservedly-legendary performance) through the "lice-infested" alleyways and mazes of Algiers' Casbah as he dodges the police, woos wayward women, and exudes charisma at every turn. A chance meeting with a beautiful Parisian society woman (Mireille Balin) leads to a love triangle between the gangster, the woman in pearls, and Pépé's equally attractive but desperately jealous Gypsy girlfriend Inés (Line Noro) that will eventually put the underworld kingpin's freedom at risk, but the story is told with such narrative and visual force that you end up rooting for characters you know are probably doomed from the start. Great fun throughout--but a cautionary tale for anyone who believes in love at first sight! (http://www.criterion.com/)

An old French movie still for Pépé

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