The Undercover Man par Bosley Crowther

The Undercover Man par Bosley Crowther

21 avril 1949. Ce n’est pas parce que les bourgeons font leur apparition sur les arbres que l’on ne peut pas s’octroyer quelques heures dans une salle de cinéma. C’est en tout cas ce que pense le passant cinéphile. Direction le Paramount pour voir le nouveau Ford, The Undercover Man.

Critique d’époque :

« Maybe you won’t believe this, but Uncle Sam’s sleuths who get « the goods » on the big income-tax violators lead lives which are dangerous and as tense as the lives of any G-men in the business of hunting super-crooks. At least, that is what they tell us in Columbia’s The Undercover Man, the tale of a tax detective, which came to the Paramount yesterday.

According to this fearful fable of a Treasury Department « cop » who nails a big syndicate operator on a $3,000,000 tax-evasion rap, the perils of sleuthing for such culprits among ledgers and dry account-books are similar to those of the fellow who goes after the gangster with a gun. Indeed, the aspects of resistance which the tax-evader puts up are remarkably like the objections of the villains in the standard gangster films.

Here the big tax-evader, who is strongly suggestive of Al Capone, has his men rub out those « stoolies » who would turn over his looks to the cops. He suborns municipal officials, intimidates the local police and even dares have his hoodlums « rough up » the Treasury men.And that is one fault of this picture: it looks so much like so many films of the cops-and-robbers formula, in the new semi-documentary style, that it offers nothing refreshing in the way of pictorial surprise.

Furthermore – and this is fatal – it’s a drearily static film, for all its explosive flurries of gun-play and passing of violent threats. The big crisis in the picture comes when the Treasury man, played by Glenn Ford, is uncertain whether to stick with the case or retire to a farm. And the basis of his decision to go on sleuthing for Uncle Sam is a long-winded lecture on justice which a sad-eyed Italian woman gives.

Mr. Ford, in a battered gray hat and a baggy suit, makes a pretty case for higher salaries to civil servants but a not very impressive sleuth. And James Whitmore, who played the sergeant in « Command Decision » on the stage, seems much more inclined to low clowning than to accounting as an assistant on the case. Barry Kelley is robustly arrogant as « the big fellow’s » lawyer and front-man, with several other performers doing standard character roles« . Par Bosley Crowther pour New York Times.

Bosley Crowther n’a pas aimé ce The Undercover Man. Il trouve le film trop statique. Pour lui, Glenn Ford n’a rien d’impressionnant. Les autres acteurs ne valent guère mieux. Et pourtant, Les Incorruptibles de Brian de Palma reprend certaines de ses séquences. Ce qui n’est pas le moindre des hommages.

Mon avis sur The Undercover Man est disponible ici.

Et pour vous faire votre propre idée, direction Sidonis Calysta.

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