It's the story of - well, a certain part of town. Eets most danzheroos creeminal is heem:
Charles Boyer, in full smoov mode. He plays a suave debonair Fronsh creeminal mastermind who’s holded up in Algiers, stealing gems, making a dishonest living. He is protected by the - well, let’s just say the part of town where he lives, a warren of ancient buildings filled with thieves, loose women, “hot-blooded” Sicilians and “Negroes from all over Africa,” as Chief Inspector Exposition puts it in the opening scene. He can never leave, or he will be caught and sent to le prison. The plot concerns the relationship between Boyer and a policeman who may, or may not, be trying to bring him to le justice; their relationship foreshadows Rick and Renault in “Casablanca.”
It’s a bit slow and muddled in spots, but you won’t care. The real story is Boyer and the women who bring him down. There’s the woman of the streets who loves him with mad passion:
Sigrid Gurie. Yes, she was Scandanavian, but apparently “Exotic” enough to pass as Algiers material, I guess. From what I’ve read, she was supposed to be the hot-mama star of the movie, but then they cast another actress in the role of the woman who lures Boyer out of . . . the part of town where he lives, and the moment she walks into the movie you forget anyone else exists:
Ladies and gentlemen, Hedy Lamarr.
The ending of the movie is superb, and brings “Casablanca” to mind as well - but you’re waiting, waiting for Charles Boyer to say the line before the movie ends. Say it! Say it! Because, you see, the part of town where he lives is the Casbah. The line, which summed up mysterious alluring dangerous romance, was, of course, “Come with me to the Casbah."But just as you wait in “Casablanca” for Rick to say “Play it again, Sam,” you wait in vain for Boyer to say the famous phrase. Apparently it was in the trailers only, and that was enough to make it a catch phrase.
You may remember who also used the phrase, no? Do you need le hint? Well, Boyer’s character was named . . . Pepe le Moke. From him, and his indelible performance as le great Fronsh lov-air, came Pepe le Pew.
One more thing. Pepe has a colorful gang of crooks, including one fellow who springs right out with strange familiarity. Once you know who he was - or rather, who his son was - it's uncanny to see him in a movie made before WW2 in glorious black and white. I knew who he was, but even if you didn't: does the fellow sitting down remind you of anyone? Not the sound of his voice, but just the way he is, somehow.