Casbah


1h 34m 1948

Brief Synopsis

Pepe Le Moko (Tony Martin) leads a gang of jewel thieves in the Casbah of Algiers, where he has exiled himself to escape imprisonment in his native France. Inez (Yvonne DeCarlo), his girl friend, is infiriated when Pepe flirts with Gaby (Marta Toren), a French vistor, but Pepe tells her to mind her own business. Detective Slimane (Peter Lorre)is trying to lure Pepe out of the Casbah so he can be jailed. Against Slimane's advice, Police Chief Louvain capture Pepe in a dragnet, but his followers free him. Inez realizes that Pepe has fallen in love with Gaby and intends to follow her to Europe. Slimane knows the same and uses her as the bait to lure Pepe out of the Casbah.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 4, 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Marston Pictures, Inc.; Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Pépé le Moko by Detective Ashelbe (Paris, 1937).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Louvain, the police commissioner of Algiers, is under a great deal of pressure from the French government to capture the notorious thief, Pepe le Moko. After three months of failure, Louvain is infuriated with police inspector Slimane, who is both in charge of the Casbah district, where Pepe is rumored to be hiding out, and a friend of the thief. While Louvain offers to put all 11,000 French policemen in Algiers on the case, Slimane tells his supervisor that Pepe has 50,000 "bodyguards" in the district who will insure that he escapes any attempt at arrest. Louvain sends Carlo, an undercover agent, into the Casbah, and he soon makes contact with innkeeper Inez Tabac, Pepe's girl friend. Although Inez immediately suspects Carlo, Pepe recognizes him as an old prison friend from France. Meanwhile, Slimane plots to capture Pepe once the thief wearies of his sanctuary in the Casbah. While conspiring to rob a group of tourists at Odette's Café, Pepe is arrested by Louvain and his men, only to escape with the help of his many friends. Pepe then returns to Odette's, where he has become infatuated with Gaby, one of the tourists. Gaby rejects his advances, however, telling him that she is engaged to Claude, a wealthy black marketeer. Realizing that Pepe has fallen in love with Gaby, Slimane convinces Claude and Gaby to stay in Algiers a few extra days. In his confusion, the lovesick Pepe begins to suspect all his friends, except Carlo, of treachery, so the two make plans to leave the Casbah that night. Just before he walks into Louvain's trap, however, Inez stops Pepe from leaving the Casbah by telling him that Gaby is at the local festival. With Slimane's help, Gaby is separated from Claude, and Pepe finally is able to proclaim his love to her. After a night of love, Gaby promises to return to the Casbah, but Pepe tells her that he is willing to leave his sanctuary to be with her. Returning to Claude's yacht, Gaby is told by her fiancé that he plans to set sail immediately, so she leaves him and moves into the Hotel Oasis. Upon learning that Gaby has not left Algiers, Slimane stops her from seeing her lover in the Casbah by lying to her that Pepe has been killed by a jealous lover. Later that night, Pepe finally discovers Carlo's treachery, and he forces his old friend to tell all before having him killed. Aware that Gaby plans to leave for Paris in a few hours, Pepe leaves the Casbah and heads for the airport. The jilted Inez tells Slimane where Pepe has gone, and he arrests the thief just as he is about to board Gaby's plane. Pepe is then shot and killed as he attempts to run for the plane.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 4, 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Marston Pictures, Inc.; Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Pépé le Moko by Detective Ashelbe (Paris, 1937).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Song

1948

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Casbah marked the feature film debut of Swedish actress Marta Toren. Universal press materials state that a second unit was sent to Algiers to shoot background footage, and that art directors Bernard Herzbrun and John DeCuir based the designs of their sets on this footage. According to Hollywood Reporter, John Berry was borrowed from Paramount to direct the film. In March 1948, producer Nat C. Goldstone and actor Tony Martin, as the principal shareholders of independent production company Marston Pictures, Inc., filed a $250,000 suit against Universal, arguing that the studio had done a poor job in marketing Casbah. According to New York Times, Universal countersued for $320,439, claiming that the film, which cost $1,307,000 to produce, had failed to recoup its cost and in fact had defaulted on a $760,000 bank loan. In September 1944, Los Angeles Times reported that Universal won the suit and was awarded a judgment of $250,000. In 1950, federal judge William C. Mathes issued a court order placing Casbah on the auctioneer's block, as Marston had failed to repay a $350,000 mortgage on the film. In February 1950, Universal, as the only bidder, purchased the film for $5,000, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Hollywood Reporter and New York Times news items report that the Bank of America foreclosed on the picture in 1953, along with nine independently produced films released by Universal between 1946 and 1948. In 1955, Martin won a tax suit over his earnings for the film. According to Los Angeles Times, the Internal Revenue Service claimed Martin owed $4,500, but the performer was able to prove that he had actually overpaid his taxes by $4,000 and was, in turn, awarded that amount.
       The Harold Arlen-Leo Robin composition "For Every Man There's a Woman" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song of 1948 but lost to the Jay Livingston-Ray Evans tune "Buttons and Bows" from Paramount's The Paleface . The Asheble novel was first filmed in 1937 in France as Pepe le Moko. Walter Wanger made a second version, Algiers, in 1938, starring Charles Boyer and Sigrid Gurie, and directed by John Cromwell (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0055). In 1948, Italian comedian Toto later appeared in Toto le Moko, a satirical version of the story, directed by D. Barraglia.