Dark Passage by Bosley Crowther

Dark Passage by Bosley Crowther

06 septembre 1947. Humphrey Bogart / Lauren Bacall. Un couple si attachant. Le passant cinéphile devant cette affiche de Dark Passage qui orne la façade du Strand. Comment résister ? Et ce n’est pas une critique en demi-teinte de Bosley Crowther qui va lui gâcher sa soirée. Non mais.

Critique d’époque :

« The city of San Francisco, which is liberally and vividly employed as the realistic setting for the Warners’ Dark Passage, now at the Strand, scores the major pictorial triumph in this melodramatic tale of love which has Humphrey Bogart and his helpmeet, Lauren Bacall, as its ordinary stars. For Writer-Director Delmar Daves has very smartly and effectively used the picturesque streets of that city and its stunning panoramas from the hills to give a dramatic backdrop to his rather incredible yarn. So, even though bored by the story – which, because of its sag, you may be – you can usually enjoy the scenery, which is as good as a travelogue.

As for the over-stretched fable, it is that of a cruelly-wronged man who, escaped from San Quentin prison, is harbored and befriended by a nice girl who has a most cozy apartment on one of San Francisco’s hills. Her odd generosity towards him is because her father, too, was wrongly jailed – a not very logical reason but no less credible than other dodges in the film. At least, the reason is sufficient to triangulate the two for a slowly-developing romance amidst a man-hunt of somewhat tedious length.The fact that Mr. Bogart gets a gun in his hand but once – and then only threateningly employs it – may be one explanation for the sag which perceptibly comes in the picture along about half-way through. The fact, too, that Mr. Daves has given his actors less action than talk and has overextended slight incidents is another obvious reason for the sag. Mr. Daves has also confused things by using a subjective camera at the start, so that it sees things as through the eyes of a fugitive, and then has switched to the conventional use later on.

This technique withholds Mr. Bogart from the audience’s observation for some time – until a fast job of plastic surgery has supposedly been performed on his face. When he finally does come before the camera, he seems uncommonly chastened and reserved, a state in which Mr. Bogart does not appear at his theatrical best. However, the mood of his performance is compensated somewhat by that of Miss Bacall, who generates quite a lot of pressure as a sharp-eyed, knows-what-she-wants girl.

Agnes Moorehead is also quite electric in a couple of scenes as a meddlesome shrew and Tom D’Andrea, Clifton Young and Houseley Stevenson are vivid in minor roles. Indeed, it is in the bizarre contacts of Mr. Bogart with shady characters such as those played by these well-directed actors that Dark Passage achieves tension and drive. Perhaps he should be given more time with them. No reflection upon Miss Bacall, of course ». Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.

Ironiquement, Bosley Crowther loue la beauté de la ville de San Francisco. Et suggère aux spectateurs d’en profiter pleinement, histoire de combattre l’ennui qui les guette devant ce spectacle trop long, trop étiré. Il s’en prend frontalement à Delmer Daves qu’il accuse de se perdre en scènes inutiles. Même Humphrey Bogart est écorné. Par contre, il se garde bien de s’en prendre à Lauren Bacall. La considère-t-il à la hauteur de son rôle ou craint-il une réaction de sa part ? Mystère.


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