30 octobre 1948. Burt Lancaster et Joan Fontaine sont réunis à l’écran un film noir lorgnant sur la romance, Kiss the Blood off my Hands. L’occasion pour le passant cinéphile de voir si la star masculine a réussi à passer un cap. Et si Joan Fontaine est toujours aussi belle.
Critique d’époque :
« The process of humanizing Burt Lancaster obviously is not going to be easy and it is going to take time. Mr. Lancaster is handy with his fists and speaks most eloquently when using them. But to develop fully as an actor and to come over to the right side of society he will have to make a break someday, for there are only so many variations on the theme of being misunderstood and Mr. Lancaster has just about exhausted them all.
In Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, which opened yesterday at oew’s Criterion. Mr. Lancaster is again fighting an uphill battle against society and « forces » which pressure him into a mood of sullen belligerency. Notwithstanding its gruesome title, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands is not a lurid crime picture. It is, rather, a thoughtful, sombre drama of an ill-starred couple and their plaintive struggle for happiness. It is a conventional drama, but a surprisingly interesting one that builds steadily toward a third-act climax (something few films do these days).
Leonardo Bercovici has written an orderly screen play, though his central character is not sharply defined. Bill Saunders, a formel soldier who developed a violent aversion to taking orders after spending two years in a Nazi prison camp, appears to be more of a born misfit than a man warped by circumstances. Quick-tempered and pugnacious he accidently kills a man. In a frantic effort to elude the police he breaks into the apartment of Jane Wharton, wins her sympathy and convinces her of his innocence. This is put to a strong test when he gets into subsequent trouble and is sentenced to six months in jail, but by now love has conquered reason.
Were it not for the restraint and intelligence that Joan Fontaine brings to the role of Jane Wharton the drama no doubt would come apart at the seams. For one cares more about what is likely to happen to Jane Wharton as she undertakes the reformation of Saunders in a fruitless bid for happiness and perforce of circumstance, entirely believable in this instance, becomes involved in murder herself. Saving this tragic development until the film’s final moments, the story reaches a forceful climax, for it leaves to one’s imagination the future of this unfortunate couple as they prepare to make an accounting to society.
Norman Foster has directed Kiss the Blood Off My Hands with keen appreciation for the story’s emotional content and he has handled the scenes of violence with striking sharpness. The long chase that starts the film on its way, with Lancaster desperately racing through winding streets and alleyways of the London waterfront, vaulting fences and scrambling1 up on roofs, is high-tension excitement. Mr. Lancaster’s performance is good, but he would do well to drop some of his tenseness and get more flexibility into his acting. Robert Newton, as a cockney schemer who witnessed the killing and attempts to blackmail Saunders, is somewhat flamboyant but still he gets over an effective characterization.
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands represents a good beginning for the new producing firm of Harold Hecht-Norma (Mr. Lancaster) Productions« . Par T.M.P. pour le New York Times.
Drame conventionnel mais étonnamment intéressant. Voici comment T.M.P. définie Kiss the Blood Off my Hands. Il loue également l’efficacité de la poursuite qui ouvre le film. Bémol sur le jeu de Burt Lancaster. Il lui conseille de l’étoffer histoire de prendre une toute autre stature.