The homogeneity of the film’s effects has nothing in common with the flashy eccentricity of Carol Reed’s The Third Man, another thriller set in the ruins of postwar Europe. Reed’s film is more entertaining and seemingly more serious, but Tourneur’s film is more deeply pessimistic and more mysterious.
— Chris Fujiwara, Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall
In Tourneur’s hands, the plot device of Lindley and Lucienne going randomly into cabarets to look for clues has a lunatic appropriateness. As Lucienne points out, “We are the ones who are being looked over.” The world of the nightclub — with its economy of cigarettes and its tawdry entertainment of tumblers, dancing girls, clowns, and mind readers — is created as definitively and as unforgettably as in a Sternberg or Welles film. (Fujiwara)
Asked about the recurrence of evil clowns in his films, Tourneur said: “I must have a sort of complex about that. I don’t find dwarfs amusing, I don’t find hunchbacks amusing, and I don’t find clowns amusing. They’re characters out of a nightmare.” (Fujiwara)