28 août 1947. Le passant solitaire n’a pas le moral. Pas de vacances pour lui cette année. Boulot, boulot, boulot. Il est en colère, a des envies de balancer son patron dans les escaliers. Heureusement pour ce dernier d’être en fauteuil roulant. Alors, pour se détendre, quoi de mieux qu’un film. En l’occurrence Kiss of Death d’Henry Hathaway avec Victor Mature et Richard Widmark.
Critique d’époque :
« The Mayfair Theatre yesterday rejoined the ranks of Brodway’s first-run movie houses. And the picture it selected for the occasion, Kiss of Death, is a pip of a melodrama. It is a tough tale about a reformed gangster who turns « stoolie » and tries to go straight. For once sympathy is piled on the side of a man who recognizes the errors of his way and is willing to make his peace with society, even though he realizes the price will be life itself. With a script by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer to go by Henry Hathaway has squeezed every last drop of suspense out of the story through his carefully paced direction.
Nick Bianco, who is Victor Mature’s best character, was born with three strikes. Following in the footsteps of his father, who was killed in a holdup shooting, Nick went from petty thievery to do a stretch in the Big House. This blot closed his chances of making an honest living and in desperation, he pulls a jewelry store robbery on Christmas Eve; the only way he knows how to provide for his wife and two young daughters. He is caught, covers up for his accomplices and takes a sentence in Sing Sing, depending on his friends to care for the family. A tragedy leaves the children motherless and for revenge, Nick agrees to « sing ». This is really the point at which the picture gets going and develops into a tense drama of a skillfully engineered double-cross and an exciting chase.
Kiss of Death was filmed entirely in New York and mostly in Manhattan. Its atmosphere is therefore authentic, and it is surprising how much authority this background contributes to the over-all effect of the picture. Mr. Hathaway also took advantage of this locale to draw most effectively upon the services of Broadway thespians for supporting roles in the film.
Indeed, the director uncovered a real find in Richard Widmark. Making his screen debut in the role of Tommy Udo, the psychopathic killer whom Bianco puts the finger on and then lives in mortal fear of his retribution, Mr. Widmark runs away with all the acting honors. But let’s hope that this performance doesn’t type him in Hollywood’s mind as did that of Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire.
Victor Mature has, if you’ll pardon the pun, really matured as an actor in Kiss of Death. There is a depth and a mobility to his present role not heretofore noticeable. Coleen Gray, another newcomer, is attractive and competent as the girl who helps Bianco to make a new life, and Brian Donlevy is a realistic district attorney. Good performances and a sensible story well dramatized go to make Kiss of Death a most satisfying entertainment. » Par T.MP. pour le New York Times.
Une critique dithyrambique à mettre au crédit de Thomas M. Pryor, puisque c’est ce dernier qui se cache derrière les initiales T.M.P. Le journaliste n’a pas les mots pour louer la réalisation d’Henry Hathaway, l’écriture des scénaristes et le jeu de Victor Mature, qui prend ici une autre dimension, sans parler de la révélation Richard Widmark !
Je ne peux que rejoindre notre journaliste. Ma chronique ici.