Charles Boyer creates an interesting portrait of a continental gangster, jewel thief and tough guy in Algiers. Other meritorious aspects include John Cromwell’s direction and the first appearance in an American-made film of Hedy Lamarr, the alluring natatorial star of the much-censored Ecstasy.
Film is a remake of Pepe le Moko (1937), a French picture directed by Julien Duvivier in which Jean Gabin starred. Wanger purchased the world rights, retired the prints from the domestic field, and assigned John Howard Lawson to write the English adaptation.
Boyer is a Parisian youth who is hunted by police and finally located in the native section of Algiers. So long as he stays within the prescribed area and lives and moves among the natives, without attempting escape to the European section, he is allowed his liberty. Police informants report his whereabouts; an inspector of detectives is his confidante; yet he dares not show himself outside.
At this juncture Boyer meets Lamarr, a beautiful Parisian girl who falls madly in love with him. She cannot remain in the restricted section; to possess her he must escape and return to Paris.
In performances by a fine cast, Lamarr comes next to Boyer in a photo finish. On the side of the unrelenting police is Joseph Calleia, as the inspector. Gene Lockhart is a stand-out as one of the informers.
1938: Nominations: Best Actor (Charles Boyer), Supp. Actor (Gene Lockhart), Cinematography, Art Direction