En ce 18 février 1944, le Loew’s State Theater donne le nouveau film de Robert Siodmak, Phantom Lady. Intrigué par l’affiche, le Passant Cinéphile se rue dans la salle après avoir pris plaisir à lire la critique de Bosley Crowther. Parce qu’en ces temps de guerre, il ne faut jamais se refuser un petit plaisir.
Critique d’époque :
« Something was bound to happen when a former Alfred Hitchcock protégée and a former director of German horror films were teamed on the Universal lot—something severe and unrelenting, drenched in creeping morbidity and gloom. And that something, which Miss Joan Harrison and Robert Siodmak have evolved, is a little item called Phantom Lady, which came to Loew’s State yesterday.
We wish we could recommend it as a perfect combination of the styles of the eminent Mr. Hitchcock and the old German psychological films, for that is plainly and precisely what it tries very hard to be. It is full of the play of light and shadow, of macabre atmosphere, of sharply realistic faces and dramatic injections of sound. People sit around in gloomy places looking blankly and silently into space, music blares forth from empty darkness, and odd characters turn up and disappear. It is all very studiously constructed for weird and disturbing effects.
But, unfortunately, Miss Harrison and Mr. Siodmak forgot one basic thing—they forgot to provide their picture with a plausible, realistic plot. And this tale of a girl’s endeavors to prove her sweetheart innocent of a murder he didn’t commit grows wearisome and finally downright foolish when one lapse after another goes by. The tedium is also augmented by the monotonous pace which is generally set. You might almost think the director had gone to sleep there a couple of times.
Ella Raines gives a moody performance as the curiously frustrated girl, and Franchot Tone, who shows up late in the picture, play a neurotic fellow betwitchingly. Thomas Gomez makes a ponderous detective, and Elisha Cook Jr. grimaces and stares as a jive-crazy orchestra drummer who is ripe for the booby-hatch. Alan Curtis, Fay Helm and Andrew Tombes Jr. are gaunt in other roles, and some aptly sensational settings background the whole affair. But sensation is specious without reason. And reason is what this picture lacks ». Par Cosby Crowther pour le New York Times.
Cette critique commençait si bien, Crowther approuvant le mix entre le style Hitchcock et l’expressionisme allemand. Mais voilà, une fois encore l’intrigue est trop compliqué pour lui, n’a plus de prise sur le réel. Ella Raines en prend aussi pour son compte. Il la trouve maussade. Rien que ça.
Retrouvez mon avis, bien moins cinglant, directement par ici.