Pépé le Moko

Pépé le Moko
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Produced by Raymond Hakim
Robert Hakim
Written by Jacques Constant (adaptation)
Henri Jeanson (dialogue)
Screenplay by Julien Duvivier
Henri La Barthe
Starring Jean Gabin
Music by Vincent Scotto
Mohamed Ygerbuchen
Cinematography Marc Fossard
Jules Kruger
Edited by Marguerite Beaugé
Distributed by Arthur Mayer & Joseph Burstyn (USA, 1941)
The Criterion Collection (Region 1 DVD, 2004)
Release dates
  • 28 January 1937 (1937-01-28) (France)
  • 3 March 1941 (1941-03-03) (US)
Running time
94 minutes
Country France
Language French

Pépé le Moko [pe.pe lə mo.ko] is a 1937 French film directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Jean Gabin.

The film depicts a gangster nicknamed Pépé le Moko. Moko is slang for a man from Toulon, derived from the Occitan amb aquò ("with that"), a term which punctuates sentences in Provence and which, in Toulon, is pronounced em'oquò.

The film is based on Henri La Barthe's novel of the same name, and La Barthe contributed to the screenplay under the pseudonym "Détective Ashelbé". Pépé le Moko is an example of the 1930's French movement known as poetic realism, which combines realism with occasional flashes of unusual cinematic tricks. The film is often considered an early predecessor of film noir.


Pépé le Moko (Jean Gabin), a criminal on the run from the police in metropolitan France, lives in the Casbah quarter of Algiers, where he is out of reach of the local police. Inspector Slimane (Lucas Gridoux) seeks a way to lure Pépé out of his refuge. He sees his chance when he learns that Pépé is in love with Gaby (Mireille Balin), the mistress of a rich businessman. Slimane leads Gaby to believe that Pépé has been killed. Gaby, who was on the point of joining him in his hiding place, now agrees to stay with her rich lover. When Pépé is informed that Gaby is about to leave Algiers for good he leaves the Casbah to find her and is arrested.


Critical reception

English author Graham Greene in a review of the film for The Spectator magazine asserted: "One of the most exciting and moving films I can remember seeing". It succeeds in "raising the thriller to a poetic level".[1] According to a BBC documentary, it served as inspiration for Greene's screenplay for The Third Man. It also shares many similarities with the American film, Casablanca, released a few years later.


The film was remade in America in 1938 as Algiers, starring Hedy Lamarr and Charles Boyer, and again in 1948 as Casbah, a musical starring Tony Martin, Märta Torén, Yvonne de Carlo, and Peter Lorre.


  1. Greene, Graham (22 April 1937). "Stage and Screen: The Cinema". The Spectator. Retrieved 7 June 2016.

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