Fugitive from the law takes refuge in Casablanca’s native quarter to head a huge theft ring, only to kill himself because he cannot leave with the white woman with whom he is in love. Role is Jean Gabin’s meat, and he masticates it well.
Support, headed by Mireille Balin and Line Noro, is of high standard, while the simple story [from a novel by Roger Ashelle] is directed with dexterity, to make the whole a commendable finished product, but the scissors could have been used a bit more severely.
Aided by his grandfather (Saturnin Fabre), evaluator of stolen property, Gabin neatly molds the character of a hardened criminal who holds both his white and native enemies at bay by brutality and harshness, mixed with the proper amount of kindness. All attempts on the part of the French authorities to lure him into the open have failed.
Gabin’s troubles start when the police descend on the quarter to capture him. A tourist (Mireille Balin) is separated from her party during the raid and is taken into Gabin’s hangout by Gridoux, native policeman, for safety. He intrigues her; she interests him.
Interesting movement holds through the entirety. Life in the native quarter, with its squalor and intrigues, is particularly well presented and photographed.
[Pic was remade by US producer Walter Wanger as Algiers, released in 1938, and by Universal as a musical, Casbah, in 1948.]