5 mai 1952. Le passant cinéphile a toujours aimé les trains. Et le film noir. Alors quand on lui propose un film réunissant l’un et l’autre, il n’hésite pas un instant. En voiture avec The Narrow Margin à bord du Chicago Express.
Critique d’époque :
« Manhattan had more than its share of film « sleepers » last week. On the heels of « The Atomic City, » the Mayfair’s unexpected treat, still another suspense melodrama quietly scooted into the Trans-Lux Sixtieth Street on Saturday, The Narrow Margin. Using a small cast of comparative unknowns, headed by Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor and Jacqueline White, this inexpensive Stanley Rubin production for R. K. O. is almost a model of electric tension that, at least technically, nudges some of the screen’s thriller milestones. Crisply performed and written and directed by Earl Felton and Richard Fleischer with tingling economy, this unpretentious offering should glue anyone to the edge of his seat and prove, once and for all, that a little can be made to count for a lot.
The plot, a cat-and-mouse stalk aboard a California-bound train, is as deceptively simple as the budget. Mr. McGraw plays a tough, conscientious detective assigned to safeguard a slain gangster’s widow until the lady can testify before a Los Angeles grand jury. His job is twofold – keeping his charge, a snarling, amoral hellion, confined to a compartment and warding off some suspicious passengers – a pair of eagle-eyed killers after the « pay-off list, » a paradoxical fat man, and a nice young widow.By staging the incidents in a simple, chilling crescendo and by substituting an eagle camera eye for the usual musical background, Mr. Fleischer has projected a superbly menacing frame for the action. And just before the taut, ingenious finale, Earl Felton flap-jacks the plot so cunningly that to elaborate here would be to ruin an ingratiating swindle.
Mr. McGraw and Miss Windsor are splendidly incisive, the latter looking fully capable of halving a railroad spike with her pretty teeth. Miss White, in view of the dénouement, seems a bit remotely patrician. However, the others, David Clarke, Paul Maxey, Peter Virgo and Gordon Gebert, are just right.If the dénoument is not entirely convincing, it nevertheless is acceptable. And, while the passenger list is not generally as compelling as, say, an Alfred Hitchcock gallery, somehow we don’t miss the master’s penchant for gaudy eccentricity. Not in a trim, sizzling little humdinger like The Narrow Margin« . Par H.H.T. pour le New York Times.
Je rejoins H.H.T. Avec un peu on peut faire beaucoup. Pas besoin de claquer des millions de dollars pour réussir un film. Parfois, seul le talent compte. Et Fleischer en est pétri. Résultat, un formidable thriller, tendu avec ce qu’il faut de retournements de situation pour que le spectacle soit simplement sensationnel. Ma chronique qui va dans le même sens que ce train est par ici.