15 mars 1952. Deadline U.S.A. est à l’affiche. Le Passant Cinéphile, friand des assauts du critique Bosley Crowther, se jette sur l’édition du jour. Déception ! Il a aimé. Mais pouvait-il en être autrement ?
Critique d’époque originale :
« That old bad boy, Humphrey Bogart, is working our side of the street in Twentieth Century-Fox’ and Richard Brooks’ Deadline, U.S.A. In this entangled melodrama, which came to the Roxy yesterday, the old tough is breathing fire and brimstone, as he has often done before, and the virulence of his aggression is bringing compounded trouble on his head. But he is doing so as a fighting champion of a free and invincible press. And, by George, the honesty of the effort rates a newspaper man’s applause.
Playing the managing editor of a well-set-up big city sheet that is about to be sold by its owners just to free their capital, Mr. Bogart makes a striking picture of an outraged and unrelenting man who fights on all fronts for his associates and for the perpetuation of an institution in which he believes. It may be the complications Mr Brooks has contrived for him are a little too snarled for easy following and unqualified belief. After all, it is asking a good bit of an audience to keep straight in mind three separate lines of development of interrelated plots, let alone allow the likelihood of the coincidence of all of them. First, there’s the matter of our hero finagling to dissuade the owners of the sheet from selling it out, which requires top-level truck with owners and courts. Then there’s a little business of his trying to re-woo his ex-wife or, failing that, to discourage her from marrying another man. And finally there is the big job of masterminding a newspaper exposé of a crime syndicate operator who has just buffaloed a Senate probe.
Jumping from one to the other keeps Mr. Bogart on the run. It also keeps the audience in a state of vertigo.But it has to be said for Mr. Bogart and for the writing and the direction of Mr. Brooks that, in spite of the melodramatic turmoil, they have brought forth a pretty straight m. e. What’s more, Mr. Brooks (who, they tell us, is an old newspaper man himself) has laid out a quite authentic picture of a-down-to-earth newspaper shop. To be sure, there is one rather soggy re-enactment of a newspaper « wake, » conducted by the reporters when they hear that their paper is doomed (Mr. Brooks quite obviously based it on the deaths of The Boston Transcript and The New York World). And at one point Mr. Bogart does burst into the city-room with a cry that is strongly reminiscent of the hackneyed « break open the front page! » Withal, the honest looks and dispositions of newspaper people are in this film, from the gray heads of aging copyreaders to a standing scepticism toward cops. And a sense of the newsman’s strangely guarded dedication to his work is clear and keen.
In the roles of editors and reporters, Ed Begley, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart, Warren Stevens and Audrey Christie are conspicuously flavorsome and good, while Ethel Barrymore gives a quiet and strong performance as the widow of the founder of the sheet. Martin Gabel draws a sinister portrait of an overlord of crime and Joseph De Santis is miserably noxious as an informer who is finally done in. Really good newspaper pictures are few and far between. This one, while melodramatic, does all right by the trade. On the stage at the Roxy are Gloria De Haven, the Norma Miller Dancers, Veronica Martell, Noonan and Marshall, the Spitalny Singers and the Gae Foster Roxyettes ». Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.
Pouvait-il en être autrement ? Non, bien évidemment. Bas les Masques (Deadline U.S.A.) est un tel plaidoyer pour la liberté de la presse qu’aucun journaliste ne pouvait décemment en dire du mal.
Ma critique de Deadline U.S.A. personnelle est disponible directement ici.