Cinema: The New Pictures, Jun. 14, 1948

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Except in Saroyan's world, barroom philosophers who intrude on new customers with the words "What's the dream?" are seldom answered courteously; and when euphoria enchants any saloon for more than five consecutive minutes, you can expect a quick return of trouble, or boredom, or both. The face on Saroyan's barroom floor has something unassailably good about the eyes. But the smile is that of a swindling parson who is sure his own swindle is for the greater glory of God.

Casbah (Universal-International). "Come with me to the Casbah" has become almost as solid a cliché, in American romantic kidding, as Mae West's "Come up and see me some time" used to be. The Casbah owes its popularity to Detective Ashelbe's tried & true romantic tale about the French super-crook Pépé le Moko (Tony Martin), who just sneers at the cops as long as he keeps to the native quarter of Algiers, but doesn't dare venture outside. It is also the story of a plainclothesman (Peter Lorre) who languidly bides his time; of a native girl (Yvonne de Carlo), weighed down with costume jewelry, who loves Pépé; and of the French tourist Gaby (Marta Toren), atwitter with diamonds, through love of whom Pépé is lured to disaster.

This was good reliable fun when Jean Gabin starred in it (Pépé le Moko, 1937) and when Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr adorned it (Algiers, 1938); it is good fun still. The older versions were slicker moviemaking but took this likable trash more seriously than it is worth. The new version has just about the right easygoing attitude. Peter Lorre can always be counted on. Tony Martin and Yvonne de Carlo, who have never before seemed entirely human, are simple, likable, even believable. Neatest measure of John Berry's sensible directing: the leads don't art it up by calling each other Gah-bee and Peh-peh; they're just plain old Gabby and Peppy.

* A girl paid to talk (and listen) to lonely bar customers, keep them buying drinks.

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