Back to Algiers
Renowned jewel thief Pepe Le Moko (Tony Martin) has taken up residence in an Algerian casbah where he lives in the security of his home where he wants for nothing especially with the attractive Inez (Yvonne De Carlo) at his beck and call. But there are those in the halls of law who would like to see Pepe arrested except between the locals and his ally Inspector Slimane (Peter Lorre) he seems untouchable. But living in a prison of his own making begins to get to Pepe especially when he meets the attractive Gaby (Märta Torén) who reminds him of the life he once had.
It's quite amusing; when I started my review of the 1938 movie "Algiers" I went on about remakes not being new and how "Algiers" was a remake of a French movie. Well "Casbah" is a remake of "Algiers" which adds a musical element in to the mix with four songs which are sung by Tony Martin and Yvonne De Carlo. This additional musical element surprisingly works because it doesn't dominate the movie but aids in establishing character especially that of Pepe Le Moko as a smooth operator.
Now being a remake of "Algiers" "Casbah" is simple to explain as we have the charming thief who becomes attracted to the beautiful visitor who not only causes him to let his guard down but also causes jealousy with his girlfriend. Basically "Casbah" sticks to the story and works it nicely using the soundtrack and background music to create a more powerful and intoxicating atmosphere. That atmosphere also comes from John Berry's almost film noir like use of settings to increase that atmosphere even more.
When it comes to Pepe Le Moko what Tony Martin brings to the character is a lot more smoothness than what Charles Boyet brought in "Algiers" who did a better job of establishing the frustration of Pepe of being stuck in a prison of his own making. It is the same through out because Peter Lorre brings more quirkiness to the role of Slimane than Joseph Calleia did whilst you have to say that in Märta Torén is stunning but so then is Yvonne De Carlo.
What this all boils down to is that "Casbah" is another good movie and shows that remakes can work when done in the right way. As for which is better well it comes down to personal choice and which actors you enjoyed more.