Come viz me to zee Casbah, for director John Berry’s irresistibly daft 1948 musical fantasy adventure, gaudily cast with Yvonne De Carlo as the lovely siren Inez, Tony Martin as the thief Pepe Le Moko, and, most treasurably, Peter Lorre as Inspector Slimane, the dogged Casbah cop on his trail.
Crooner Martin is certainly in good voice, if perhaps not on such good Thespian form as the thief / spy who is willing to risk all for Gaby (Swedish beauty Marta Toren in her Hollywood début), the woman he loves. Quite fortunately, Lorre, De Carlo and Hugo Haas are old and faithful hands at this kind of thing.
A remake of two more famous films, Jean Gabin’s Pepe Le Moko and Charles Boyer’s Algiers (1938), Casbah still makes its own mark as exotic, entertaining, old-fashioned escapism. It is daft, certainly, but it’s also splendidly escapist and engaging.
Unexpectedly, the Harold Arlen (music) – Leo Robin (lyrics) songs help to raise its appeal – if not its credibility – by several notches. Their pleasant tunes include the Oscar-nominated ‘For Every Man There’s a Woman’.
Also in the cast are Douglas Dick, Katherine Dunham, Herbert Rudley, Gene Walker, Curt Conway, André Pola, Barry Bernard, Virginia Gregg and Will Lee.
Leslie Bush-Fekete [László Bús-Fekete] and Arnold Manoff write the screenplay, adapting the novel by Henri La Barthe (writing as as Detective Ashelbe). The musical story is by Erik Charell.
Romantic singer / actor Tony Martin died on aged 98. Martin, married to his second wife the dancer Cyd Charisse for 60 years, appeared in more than 30 films. His first wife, from 1937 until their 1940 divorce, was musical star Alice Faye.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4296
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