8 juillet 1948. La chaleur est étouffante dans les rues de New York. Notre passant cinéphile a envie de se faire une toile d’autant plus qu’on donne au Loew’s Criterion, Canon City qui s’inspire d’une célèbre évasion survenue quelques mois plus tôt. De quoi, peut-être, jouer à se faire peur.
Critique d’époque :
« Another convincing demonstration that crime, while it may not « pay, » can be turned to profitable uses by the makers of action films is given by Canon City, a tough semi-documentary job about a prison break in Colorado, which came to Loew’s Criterion yesterday. And a further indication that the so-called criminal type still has Hollywood’s compassion is obvious in this film.Faithfully based upon ther record of the wholesale prison break which occurred at the Colorado State Penitentiary at Canon City in December of last year, this film is a hard-grained re-enactment of what is known of that episode – or, at least, of its more dramatic details – within the space of an hour and a half. Filmed, in large measure, « on location » within the actual prison walls and in the country around Canon City – with one final episode in Royal Gorge – it comes pretty close to looking like the actual business, too.
As a matter of fact, Bryan Foy, who produced for Eagle-Lion, has done several things to give it an illusory quality. He has started it off in the manner of a straight documentary film about a prison, with an off-screen narrator describing a literal in-the-prison tour. Then he has picked up the drama of prisoners plotting their break and has carried it through to the final round-up in the same documentary style. In fact, he even persuaded Warden Roy Best to play himself and the gentleman graciously obliges with a naturalness few actors could stimulate.In his direction, too, Crane Wilbur has held to a realistic line for much of the prison action and in some of the outside episodes. His actors – especially Jeff Corey, who plays the leader of the « break » – are generally tough, convincing fellows with nothing to recommend in charm. And the movement is swift and dynamic, not unlikely in such affairs.
But the chink in the hard wall of illusion is the romantic aura thrown around one of the prison-busters whom a new lad, Scott Brady, plays. This fellow is represented as the usual hard-luck case—a basically decent fellow who, Alan Ladd-like, has gone wrong. And in all of his rebel activities, even in the act of shooting at guards, he is patterned to draw admiration and audience sympathy. The consequence is that one catches, through the pretense of documented fact, the tell-tale token of a typical prison melodrama, hero-style« . Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.
Tout commençait si bien ! Bosley Crowther loue la qualité de réalisation de Crane Wilbur pour cette brutale évasion inspirée d’un fait réel. Mais voilà ! La sempiternelle morale est de retour. Notre critique refuse de voir un délinquant transformé par les Studios en héros romantique ou tragique. C’est simplement inconcevable.
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