Double Indemnity by Bosley Crowther

Double Indemnity by Bosley Crowther

07 septembre 1944. Le passant cinéphile se sent attiré par cette histoire de femme fatale prenant dans sa toile un enquêteur en assurance. En outre, il se demande bien comment l’on peut résister à ces femmes. En tout cas, il pénètre dans la salle où l’on passe Double Indemnity comme attiré malgré lui.

Critique d’époque :

« The cooling-system in the Paramount Theatre was supplemented yesterday by a screen attraction designed plainly to freeze the marrow in an audience’s bones. Double Indemnity is its title, and the extent of its refrigerating effect depends upon one’s personal repercussion to a long dose of calculated suspense. For the sole question in this picture is whether Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray can kill a man with such cool and artistic deception that no one will place the blame on them and then maintain their composure under Edward G. Robinson’s studiously searching eye.

Such folks as delight in murder stories for their academic elegance alone should find this one steadily diverting, despite its monotonous pace and length. Indeed, the fans of James M. Cain’s tough fiction might gloat over it with gleaming joy. For Billy Wilder has filmed the Cain story of the brassy couple who attempt a « perfect crime », in order to collect some insurance, with a realism reminiscent of the bite of past French films. He has detailed the stalking of then victim with the frigid thoroughness of a coroner’s report, and he has pictured their psychological crackup as a sadist would pluck out a spider’s legs. No objection to the temper of this picture; it is as hard and inflexible as steel.

But the very toughness of the picture is also the weakness of its core, and the academic nature of its plotting limits its general appeal. The principal characters – an insurance salesman and a wicked woman, which Mr. MacMurray and Miss Stanwyck play – lack the attractiveness to render their fate of emotional consequences. And the fact that the story is told in flashback disposes its uncertainty. Miss Stanwyck gives a good surface performance of a destructively lurid female, but Mr. MacMurray is a bit too ingenuous as the gent who falls precipitately under her spell. And the ease of his fall is also questionable. One look at the lady’s ankles and he’s cooked.

The performance of Mr. Robinson, however, as a smart adjuster of insurance claims is a fine bit of characterization within its allotment of space. With a bitter brand of humor and irritability, he creates a formidable guy. As a matter of fact, Mr. Robinson is the only one you care two hoots for in the film. The rest are just neatly carved pieces in a variably intriguing crime game« . Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.

Bosley Crowther est un incorrigible bougon. Monotone, des longueurs, trop académique, la réalisation de Billy Wilder ne lui a pas plu. S’il reconnait que Barbara Stanwyck tient bien sa place, il trouve Fred MacMurray trop ingénu. Seul Edward G. Robinson trouve grâce à ses yeux. Pour Bosley Crowther, Double Indemnity n’est qu’un agréable divertissement.

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2 réflexions sur « Double Indemnity by Bosley Crowther »

  1. Bob Curtin from the group Classic Film Noir Theater : « Crowther didn’t get film noir. Otis Ferguson would have understood it. It’s a shame he died in WWII ».

  2. Katy Hennessy from the group Classic Film Noir Theater : « Bosley Crowther was NOT a progressive in terms of women, their roles, their efforts, etc. There’s a thread which runs throughout his critical work, I think, which underscores that. It wasn’t an issue in 1944 but it’s evident now. Phylis Dietrichson is just too central to this whole story and to the film and I think it would have unsettled that critic ».

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