Hedy Kiesler made several films, enough to get her noticed by Hollywood. One, ECSTACY, in 1933 was notorious for her nude gallivant across an open field and a simulation of orgasm. MGM signed her up, changed her name to Lamarr, and set out to make her a star, without a lot of luck. When independent filmmaker Walter Wanger asked to borrow her for ALGIERS, they were only to happy to do so. That happiness was short lived as she became a huge star at the time and they were embarrassed at how an independent did so so easily. She wasn’t lent out for any other non-MGM films and it caused her to miss one role she was offered: CASABLANCA.
ALGIERS is a remake of a French film, PEPE LE MOKO, from the year before.
Charles Boyer plays Pepe le Moko, a French jewel thief that escaped Paris with a fortune in jewels and has been living in the Casbah for the past two years. The police know he’s in there, but can’t get at him in the labyrinthine choke of streets, connected balconies, and such. It is said that one can go from one side of the Casbah to the other without touching ground. The police can’t get at him, but he can’t get out either without being arrested.
Pepe has established a life there, has friends, even a rudimentary relationship with a young woman, Ines(Sigrid Gurie). I say rudimentary because of the difference in their ages, She loves Pepe, but he only likes her. He’s also grown bored and misses Paris.
Regis(Gene Lockhart), a thief brings word to Pepe that a new policeman from Paris is pressing them to invade the Casbah to get him. Pepe has long believed Regis is an informant to the police and knows it might be a set-up.
Pepe is slightly wounded in the raid, but escapes in the melee and to a room where he meets a young French tourist, Gaby(Hedy Lamarr), brought there to get her safely away from the action by Slimane(Joseph Calleia), an Algiers cop who is a friend of Pepe. But like so many in the Casbah, he has his own plans for Pepe. Pepe is instantly transfixed with Gaby and hardly notices all the expensive jewelry she wears.
As with most love triangles, people do and say things both good and bad for all involved. Unintended events and such highlight the last half of this excellent film.
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