The Mask of Dimitrios par Bosley Crowther

The Mask of Dimitrios par Bosley Crowther

24 juin 1944. Le temps est morose sur New York. Tout comme le moral de notre passant cinéphile. Même les néons de Broadway n’y change rien. Une bonne toile devrait lui changer les idées. The Mask of Dimitrios lui promet dépaysement et intrigues. Et ce n’est pas ce grincheux de Bosley Crowther qui va lui gâcher son plaisir.

Critique d’époque :

« One might be excused for expecting the combination of Warner Brothers and an Eric Ambler yarn to result in something somewhat more exciting in the mystery thriller line than the film called « The Mask of Dimitrios« , which came to the Strand yesterday. For the Warners are proved masters of such grisly tales as Mr. Ambler writes and the latter’s « A Coffin for Dimitrios, » peg for this picture, was a pip of a book, we hear. But, unfortunately, this screen adaptation is no great credit to either accessory to the act. When they dropped the coffin out of the title they dropped a lot that went with it out of the film.

In telling the picaresque story of a mystery writer on the trail of a Levantine bum whose career of crime in the Balkans has stimulated the writer’s awe, the film wallows deeply in discourse and tediously trite flashbacks. This Dimitrios scoundrel, whom the writer seems to think such a fascinating rogue, is never proved to be much more than a vermin with a record that is cheap and banal. And the mystery built up around the research into his past is just plain dust in your eyes. Seldom has this reviewer waited so patiently – and in vain – to be surprised.

To be sure, the Warner schemists have poured some scabby atmosphere into this film and have been very liberal with the scenery in picturing international haunts and Balkan dives. And they have run in a cast of old familiars to play assorted conspirators and muggs. Peter Lorre plays the writer- not very effectively, be it said, for the role calls for humored insouciance, which he does not give to it – and Sydney Greenstreet plays a mysterious meddler in his archly pontifical style. As the object of every one’s attention, Zachary Scott, who makes his debut in this film, presents the rascally Dimitrios as a blue-steel American gangster type. And Victor Francen, Steven Geray and Faye Emmerson are good in minor roles.

This sort of worldly melodrama calls for refinement in cinematic style, but the writing and direction of this picture betray a rather clumsy, conventional approach« . Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.

Peter Lorre allume la cigarette de Sydney Greenstreet

Conventionnel, maladroit, peu respectueux de son matériau de base (le roman, s’entend). Bosley Crowther n’y va pas, une fois de plus, avec le dos de la cuillère pour descendre en flamme un film noir. cette fois-ci, c’est The Mask of Dimitrios qui en fait les frais.

Personnellement, j’ai apprécié cette poursuite de la figure romantique du gangster à travers les Balkans. Ma critique par ici.


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4 réflexions sur « The Mask of Dimitrios par Bosley Crowther »

  1. Peter Strempel from the group All Films Noir : « Let’s face it, Crowther was a bit of a bourgeois prig with delusions of grandeur. As if to make true the characterization of newspaper columnists offered by Robert Douglas as Ellsworth Toohey (The Fountainhead, 1949) or Burt Lancaster’s JJ Hunsecker (Sweet Smell of Success, 1957). But he really was no better or worse than Roger Ebert, or any other critic who begins to believe their taste is somehow more elevated than that of anyone else.
    Mask of Dimitrios is not a masterpiece, but a better film than anything about ‘superheroes’ today nevertheless ».

  2. Arthur Gaer from the group CLASSIC FILM NOIR (1940 -1958) : « I *really* like THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS, though in my opinion in kind of slows down and loses its sense of dangerous atmosphere once the story hits Paris. It’s been a long time since I read the Eric Ambler original A Coffin for Dimitrios, but I remember thinking the finale of the boot didn’t loose the momentum of the earlier part of the book the way it feels (to me) is true for the film.
    For those who like DIMITRIOS I think JOURNEY INTO FEAR (1943) has a similar feel and atmosphere, though not as well known. For anyone who likes DIMITRIOS I’d suggest all six of Ambler’s 1936-1940 novels are very much worth reading. The post-1950 novels are more of a mixed bag ».

  3. Vance Wittie from the group CLASSIC FILM NOIR (1940 -1958) : « Crowther’s opinion of a film was entirely dictated by the state of his digestion at the time. As for Dimitrios, it is one of the most enjoyable noirs with Lorre and Greenstreet at the top of their game ».

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