27 décembre 1948. Le passant cinéphile n’en peut plus de toute cette marmaille qui court partout chez lui. Et la dinde lui pèse toujours sur l’estomac. Direction le Loewe State pour se passer les nerfs devant Force of Evil avec John Garfield.
Critique d’époque :
« It may be that Force of Evil, which opened at Loew’s State on Christmas Day, is not the sort of pitcure that one would choose for Yuletide cheer. It’s a cold, hard, relentless dissection of a bitter, aggressive young man who let’s himself get in too deep as the lawyer for a « policy racket » gang. And as such it is full of vicious people with whom the principal boy associates, it reeks of greed and corruption and it ends in death and despair.
But for all its unpleasant nature, it must be said that this film is a dynamic crime-and-punishment drama, brilliantly and broadly realized. Out of material and ideas that have been worked over time after time, so that they’ve long since become stale and hackneyed, it gathers suspense and dread, a genuine feeling of the bleakness of crime and a terrible sense of doom. And it catches in eloquent tatters of on-the-wing dialogue moving intimations of the pathos of hopeful lives gone wrong.
Written by Abraham Polonsky and Ira Wolfert from the latter’s acid book, Tucker’s People, about the « numbers racket », and directed by Mr. Polonsky, too, it gets right at the matter of petty gambling from the bottom to the top. It gives a fair understanding of the vast and monstrous scale on which the « numbers » business is established. And it hints obliquely at political hook-ins.But this is’nt the main thing about it. Racketeers are still racketeers and the operation of « numbers » is special but not unique. The main thing about this picture is that it shows, in plausible terms, the disintegration of a character under the too-heavy pressure of his sense of wrong.In their up-from-nothiing lawyer who gets himself in too deep on the moral excuse that he is doing it for his brother, a middle-aged man, Mr. Polonsky and Mr. Wolfert have some real things to show about the practical operation of the psychology of crime. And in the frenzied romance of this tough lawyer with a decent but daring little girl, they say something rather disturbing about lust for the dangerous and unknown.
They do it in startling situations and in graphic dialogue, in shattering cinematic glimpses and in great, dramatic sweeps of New York background. New to the business of directing, Mr. Polonsky here establishes himself as a man of imagination and unquestioned craftsmanship.True, he was very fortunate in having John Garfield play the young lawyer in the story, for Mr. Garfield is his tough guy to the life. Sentient underneath a steel shell, taut, articulate – he is all good men gone wrong. And a new little actress named Beatrice Pearson is something of a lucky feature, too. With her innocent, worldly demeanor, her shyness yet forwardness, too, and a voice that would melt a pawnbroker, she points up the pathos in the tale.
But Mr. Polonsky’s direction of Thomas Gomez, who does a fine, tense job as the small-time brother of the tough guy; of Roy Roberts, who plays Tucker, the big boss, and of half a dozen other shows that he has the stuff. In this particular picture, produced by Bob Roberts for Enterprise, we have a real new talent in the medium, as well as a sizzling piece of work« . Par B.C. pour le New York Times.
Force of Evil n’est pas un film de Noël mais c’est un excellent film, tendu et violent, porté par un John Garfield en état de grâce.