Romantic, obsessive Steve Thompson is drawn back to L.A. to make another try for Anna, his former wife. However, Anna belongs now to the L.A. underworld. Steve believes he can rescue her, ignoring the advice and warnings of people who would try to save him. He commits himself to a dangerous course of action that quickly takes everyone somewhere unintended.
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I would not have been able to pick out a better title for this movie.It truly did criss cross back and forth as far as the love story goes.And it kept you guessing who was going to end up with who and who wasgoing to live or die as sad as it sounds, it kept you on your toes. Istill like Casablanca better just because of the "Hollywood love"aspect of it, also I thought the ending was perfect and clever. As forthis one I found it cold and just not as good. The whole story withAnna going back and forth between men I found that rather trashy. Asfar as the camera and lighting aspects go i thought they were good. Inoticed some scenes were rather long; a minute or two rather than justa few seconds. It was definitely a film noir just because of the"darkness" and night shots and how rainy and dreary it was. I thoughtthat aspect was done very well!
This review is from: Criss Cross (Universal Noir Collection) (DVD) To this film's credit the B & W photography is great, as is, as always, Miklos Rosza's score, and the story is good. That said, as a modern viewer one has to suspend an incredible amount of disbelief. Let's face it: Burt Lancaster is an icon. He is nobody's fool. In light of all the great work that Lancaster has done (From Here to Eternity, The Sweet Smell Of Success, Atlantic City,etc.) and the image of the strong leading man he attained we are supposed to accept him as a chump here. And this may sound ridiculous, but in my mind I could not accept Lancaster risking life and limb for Yvonne DeCarlo(a.k.a Lily Munster). I'm sure in the 40's the two were on equal footing, but hey, this is 2004.
I have little to add to the many reviewers who have done an excellent job in describing this superb noir. For us Angelinos, it is a special one. You can feel and breath post war L.A., the old downtown and the surrounding areas, and especially the nightclub atmosphere of those days. And who populates the above? Lancaster and de Carlo, two of the best stars of all times.
This review is from: Criss Cross (Universal Noir Collection) (DVD) ok i seen alot of film noirs and this niether less to say is a pretty good one too and being of the 40 period where alot of suspense and drama burt lancaster is as expected is good in another suspected thriller with unexpected turns pretty good cast as well with an cameo from a very young tony curtis its worth getting if your film noir fan or just a burt lancaster one!
You may consider this film as an authentic elite of this genre.Lancaster plays the role of a man who hasn't been capable to forget to his ex-wife (Ivonne De Carlo) . She is trying to remake her life and wants to marry with a villain . This script will become progressive more intriguing till the climax is a shock for the viewer. Robert Siodmak was one of the key film makers all along these decads of creative and dramatic film noir. The essential clues are present here. The hopeless ; the happiness never smiles the guy ; the girl uses to fall in love with the mistaken man ; the long arm of the fate seems to dictate its own rules ; the sinister and dark shadows of the envy , the cruelty and the greed establishes a typified behavior ; the insatisfaction surrounds the couple , and many times it seems to touch the model citizen turning in a evil human being . There are bits of melodramatic concerns but it never becomes in the narrative nucleus.Lancaster makes a convincing role and Tony Curtis makes his screen debut.If you are a hard fan about this genre. This is for you. There was a remake in 1995 titled Underneath : but you may ignore this last one. It doesn't keep the black and bitter atmosphere of Criss cross . Don't forget another trimph that Siodmak also directed The dark mirror (Olivia de Haviland).
It will be arguable with most viewers on whether or not Criss Cross,Robert Siodmak's quasi follow up to The Killers (featuring the samestar, Burt Lancaster), is a definitive entry in the period of thefilm-noir. Part of this could be attributable to the heist sub-plot inthe film, the one that drives on the characters to their bleakconclusions, is only good, not great, and is only inventive in how itis set up at the start, in typical noirish style, and then comes aroundagain right at the 2/3 mark. What is essential or definitive about thepicture, however, is the relationship between Steve (Lancaster) and Ann(the sultry late Yvonne DeCarlo). Here's a bond that has 'noir' writtenall over it; they've been divorced and estranged for quite a while, andwhen Steve comes back to town thinking at first with no intention ofseeing her, it happens, old feelings stir up, and what he doesn't know,of course, is that she's married, this time to a mobster, Slim Dundee(Dan Duryea). When they attempt at seeing each other again- as theirpush and pull relationship has them at a disadvantage- Slim gets wiseto it, and Steve only gets out of this jam by offering a job- a"can't-be-done" job involving an armored car.There's something about the main actor and actress in a film-noir thatalways gets me perked up a little more, especially if they're in juicyroles, and here Siodmak has a near perfect pair on his hands.Lancaster, with his natural appeal as a (for a noir anyway)average-Joe, and DeCarlo, with everything that can make a man alluredand dismayed by what he sees (dismayed, of course, because one mightthink that a girl like that would be unapproachable), play into theseroles like it's second nature, and if for nothing else they're the realdraw in Criss Cross. It's part of a sort of male psychological streakin these films, perhaps, that it's from the man's POV in how one getsdrawn in by pure desire, even if the sense of fate and circumstancefeel all too uneasy. There's great scenes in the nightclub, where Stevesees Ann again, dancing to a Latin tune that gets the mood to a highpitch, of the two of them talking together and seeing how they couldwork out as a couple, but also how tempers could flair at any moment oneither side (I loved one bit where he asks her to go swimming with heron a weekend, and they're both grimacing the whole time). And thenthere's the sort of conventional fall-out where a paradoxical set ofchances and bad choices send them to their respective dooms, of lovegetting criss-crossed (ho-ho) with greed and more pragmaticsensibilities. The ending at the rendezvous may seem a little too muchwithout any hope, but then again who goes to see relationships likethese work out as a happy ending? Not Siodmak and his writers, for sure, and it's a major credit that hiswhole cast pulls off the parts, not just the principles (Duryea, by theway, is another in a long line of film-noir villains who never has toraise his voice to let himself be known as a threat in a room full ofgangsters), but supporting players, like the old bartender, the evenolder guy who plans out part of the robbery (and waits to have hisdrink), or the concerned lieutenant Pete who stands on the sidelinesnot with the usual determination to bust the case, but as a kind ofwitness to Steve's demise ("I should've kicked you to get it in yourhead," he says late in the movie). On top of this Siodmak lays on themoody thrills and suspense with effortless glee, with the actual heistscene itself, shrouded mostly in smoke, a winner. Although much of thetypical aspects of Criss Cross are worth the while, it's really thecore of the picture, of the ties between such an easily readlove-triangle, that becomes most fascinating. If it were on televisionsometime I would watch it again just for their scenes- as well as a fewothers- and it should stand the test of time as a very fine Hollywoodthriller from one of the better directors of the period.
Burt Lancaster, hot off his success in "The Killers," where he burned upthescreen with the smoldering Ava Gardner, paired up again with directorRobertSiodmak to make this noir hit with yet another sultry and exotic leadinglady, this time the stunning Yvonne de Carlo. In this role she provesshe'snot just a decorative sex symbol and gets to strut the acting chops I'vealways suspected her of possessing. For those who are only familiar withher as Lilly Munster on the famous TV show, it is a treat to see her atheryouthful beauty and in one of her best roles. Although I believe Gardnertobe the more beautiful of the two, I couldn't imagine her pulling off thisrole (at least at this stage of her career; she later developed much moredepth) as impressively as de Carlo does, who in my view is (or at leastbecame, in this movie) the better actress. Lancaster also proves that hisstar-making performance in the aforementioned "The Killers" was not afluke,and despite the two films' possessing a surface similarity--sexy damedoublecrosses love or lust-strucked sap with fatal consequences, which, ofcourse,would describe many noirs--Lancaster makes a unique, interesting andmulti-dimentional dupe in both roles. He exudes typical male 'traits' oftoughness, masculinity and jadedness but yet is susceptible to the moretypical 'female' qualities of vulnerability, sensitivity, lovelorness andhopeful, but ultimately futile, optimism in his refusal, or inability, tobecome completely cynical and hard-bitten, even at the end. In "CrissCross" he plays the divorced Steve Thompson, who has recently returned toSan Francisco where his ex-wife Anna remains, trying to convince himselfofevery reason in the book for moving back home except the real one--hislingering, potent love and strong attraction for her which still persists.He moves back in with his family and gets his job back at an armored-carcompany, all the while playing what will turn out to be a dangerousgame--going back to their old haunts where he pretends he has no desire tosee Anna, when he knows sooner or later he will. The situation proves tobeall the more risky when he discovers she has married Slim Dundee, anabusive, big-shot gangster. But despite this extremely dangerous,untenablesituation, he is unable to resist when Anna's siren song beckons, luringnotonly him, but her husband, into her lethal web and complex scheme withcold-blooded precision.The three principals give riveting performances: Lancaster's Steve--theviewer can feel his painful uncertainty in knowing he should not and mustnot get tangled up with his ex again, and yet he must; he is so in love(orlust) that there really is no other option for him. De Carlo's Anna in myview is the most difficult role in the film to convincinglyportray--despiteher despicable, heartless, self-serving actions, she still remains likableand even heartrending in her justifications. She convincingly displaysvulnerability and anguish but at the same time is completely venal andselfish, willing to use the two men who love her and then discard them.Weget the feeling that she *may* be good at heart, but really and truly haslost her way, has assessed she's too far gone to ever go back, and so shewill plow on ahead determinedly, consequences and feelings and people'slives be dam*ed. The scene where de Carlo is with the men as they plantheheist is reminiscent of the one in "The Killers" where Ava Gardner is withthe criminal gang--it is obvious they are no mere decorative dames, mollswho remain in the background; they play an active role with the big boys,but they have something up their sleeves. As for Dan Duryea as Slim,despite his seeming, or in fact playing, the same kind of roles in all themovies I've seen him in, that of the smarmy, slimy, sleazy character whopossesses many of the most undesirable, worst traits in humankind--mean,petty, greedy, cowardly, sneaky, etc., he remains puzzlingly fascinatingandeven likable, and he does not fail here. His character here is the kindofperson no man, and woman, crosses without consequence, and like Lancaster,who loves Anna to the end, Slim is dead set upon paying her back what shehas reaped, but despite the fact that all that she's done to him, he stillloves her as well. In fact, his feelings for her and the devastated,shellshocked look on his face at the end brings to mind that song, or atleast the famous line I've heard somewhere, "I loved her but I had to killher."Lancaster, de Carlo and Duryea were such an electrifying trio that it's ashame the three never made a movie together again (in fact, Lancaster anddeCarlo's chemistry was not limited to the screen, the two were loversduringfilming). But perhaps it's just as well as it would be a challenge tosurpass this example of film-noir excellence. The ending is one of themoststunning and shocking I've seen, and the final shot of Lancaster and deCarlo presents an almost artfully arranged, beautiful but devastatinglytragic tableau. Look for Tony Curtis (looking like a gigolo) as he makesanappearance in a small role as de Carlo's partner during a zesty, lustyrumba. And keep an eye out for the dramatic, stylish, minimalist ensembleDuryea wears in one scene consisting of an all-black suit with aretina-scalding white tie--talk about fashion being way ahead of its time,Duryea sure looks sharp! Fascinating noir, recommended also as a companionpiece to "The Killers."
1940's seedier side of Los Angeles makes a fitting noir background forthis highly well made film noir starring BURT LANCASTER as the lovelornhero foolish enough to go back to his ex-wife (extremely well played byYVONNE DE CARLO) who has taken up with a bunch of hoodlums headed bythe sinister DAN DURYEA. True love never does run smooth, especially inthis kind of fatalistic melodrama in which we have a hint from the verybeginning of a dark conclusion.The fact that Lancaster works for an armored car service is worked intothe plot and makes for the movie's most suspenseful and action-filledmoments. Some nice support from Stephen McNally as Lancaster's wisefriend and Richard Long as his brother. Percy Felton does a standoutjob as an inquisitive bartender.Robert Siodmak squeezes every bit of suspense as the story builds to agripping climax. The hospital scene is extremely effective as Lancasterbecomes aware of the dangerous situation he's in.Lancaster displays some vulnerability and sensitivity despite hisrugged good looks and has one of his best early roles here, even moreimpressive than he was in THE KILLERS. Miklos Rozsa's superb backgroundscore gives a jagged edge to the suspense.Any lover of B&W film noir is guaranteed to find pleasure in this one.Trivia: If you watch real closely, you'll spot the young Tony Curtis asde Carlo's dance partner in the crowded nightclub scene.
Considered to be one of Director Richard SiodmakÃs noir classics, this filmwill intrigue fans of the genre but still falls short onthe story line. It doesnÃt make any difference. You get to see Tony Curtis in his film debutdancing to a rhumba band with Yvonne De Carlo! Burt Lancaster, who Siodmak directed earlier in The Killers and later in TheCrimson Pirate, works well as a tragic figure, and who can ignore Dan DuryeaÃs classic gangster dressed in a black shirt andwhite tie? Exterior shots of post-war Los Angeles, including the Angels Flightfunicular, are an extra bonus...
A superb film noir on all counts. Everything is here. Bunker hill and union station in old L.A. and a local sizzling night club with a rumba band, the beautiful specimens of Lancaster and De Carlo and many familiar faces from that era, flashbacks and double crosses, in my opinio, Siodmak's best work. If you are an Angelino who laments the unnesessary destruction of the bunker hill area, you'll appreciate the unique post war atmosphere of the area. One sentence that stuck in mind since I first saw this movie more than 50 years ago was Burt's mother telling him: Of all the girls in L.A. you had to fall for her', DeCarlo of course, who plays one of the best femme fatals of all times and manages to get all the major cast killed. An interesting detail. Lancaster was one of the best gymnast and acrobats of his time and he shows his physique on numerous occasion in this movie. But, body building was looked down upon in those days, 'muscle bounds' they called us, suggesting something wrong with the upper part of your body. Most stars of the 40's who took off their shirts in some scenes looked like teen age girls. Only in the 60's with the fitness revolution everybody pumps iron. So, despite the 'non Arnold' look of Lancaster don't miss this one. If you are an Angelino and ignore this movie, you'll pay for your crime.
This review is from: Criss Cross [VHS] (VHS Tape) Excellent, and films doesn't get more "noir" than this
This is just classic crime thriller, from the start when you see thisguys in the room talking about doing something that seems sketchy and afight breaks out. After this scene i knew i was watching a great FilmNior flick. Like most Film Noirs it uses Flashbacks to show backgroundof the plot, which is done actually well because it gives you justenough without dwelling too much on how things happen you know Stevehas come back from somewhere most likely the military and tries torekindle his love his wife, but she remarries another man. The bestpart of the film I believe is the end when we uses the titled and Steveis literally Criss Crossed losing everything: his girl, his dad, andhis life.
Yvonne De Carlo smolders as a sultry femme fatale who juggles both fallguy Burt Lancaster and bad guy Dan Duryea in "Son of Dracula" directorRobert Siodmak's "Criss Cross," an above-average but predictableexercise in film noir that boasts gloomy atmosphere, a gritty urbanenvironment, and solid performances. Burt Lancaster gives anexceptional performance as the vulnerable protagonist who cannotconceal his sentiments about the De Carlo character from anybody, eventhe supporting characters. Speaking of supporting characters, "CrissCross" boasts its share and they take an active part in theproceedings. Percy Helton as a bartender, Alan Napier as a crimeplanner, Joan Minor as the lush, Griff Barrett as Pop, and Tom Pedi asDundee's accomplice all contribute memorably to the action.Although the film noir elements aren't as oppressive as in Siodmak'searlier and superior collaboration with Lancaster on "The Killers,""Criss Cross" is unmistakably noir. For example, a larger number ofscenes in "Criss Cross" take place during the day rather than at night.Siodmak never wears out his welcome here and the use of an extendedflashback 14 minutes into the action that takes us back for importantexposition is expertly integrated into the narrative. Siodmak stagesthe action nimbly without lingering unduly on anybody or anything. ADresden-born German, Siodmak is a highly underrated helmer who hasnever received the well-deserved recognition accorded Fritz Lang. Mindyou, Siodmak doesn't have Lang's cinematic flair with staging scenes,but his films are nevertheless robust.Scenarist Daniel Fuchs, who later won an Oscar for "Love Me or LeaveMe" (1955), based his screenplay on Don Tracy's crime novel with toughguy dialogue and continuity supplemented by William Bowers thatemphasizes the theme of fatalism so essential to film noir. Moreover,Fuchs received an Edgar nomination for his "Criss Cross" script.Everybody in "Criss Cross" is destined to lose in some way or another.Lancaster's doomed character, however, suffers the greatest anguish bycomparison. De Carlo's siren is second in line. Surprisingly, Fuchs andSiodmak generate more tension among their scheming principals in thefirst half of the action than they do with the gripping armored truckheist in broad daylight during the second half of the movie.Interestingly, the police don't figure prominently in "Criss Cross,though they hover on the periphery in the form of Lieutenant FrankRamirez. The heist is still pretty engrossing material from itscarefully planned stages to its skillful execution.The production values of "Criss Cross" look first-rate. Universaldoesn't appear to have confined either Siodmak or the film--despite itsB-movie subject matterÂto claustrophobic studio sets. The armored truckset looks terrific, particularly when they load the truck up and leavewith a tilting high angle shot that shows them exiting the building."Champion" cinematographer Frank (later Franz) Planer's evocative black& white photography is a considerable asset. Planer's location lensingis top-notch in several scenes, especially the multi-layered Round UpBar and later at the factory where the heist occurs. Planer does anexceptional job of photographing the Lancaster character after he windsup in the hospital with his arm in traction. An interestingslice-of-life moment occurs early in the movie during a conversationbetween two employees at the armored truck firm when they discuss aboutthe competitive price of two grocery stores and how one store undercutsthe other with their prices o soap and tomato juice that enhances the1949 setting."Criss Cross" starts out suspensefully as we learn that Anna (Yvonne DeCarlo of "Brute Force") and Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster of "ElmerGantry") are hiding in the parking lot of the nightclub called TheRound Up where they are necking. The story unfolds chronologically tobegin with because Anna is married to notorious gangster Slim Dundee(Dan Duryea of "Black Bart") who is looking for her at that very momentinside the Round Up. Dundee gives Anna the third degree later when shecomes back inside about what she was doing. Steve cautions her earlierthat they must be discreet or they could blow the entire set-up. Later,Steve enters the Round Up to gate crash on Dundee's party. You see,Dundee and company plan to relocate to Detroit and he is giving afarewell party. Los Angeles Police Detective Lieutenant Pete Ramirez(Stephen McNally of "Winchester '73") tries to dissuade Steve frombutting in where he hasn't been invited. Steve blows him off andmoments later Ramirez gate crashes the party himself after Dundee haspulled a knife on Steve. Ramirez is Steve's friend, though we neverknow the basis of their back and forth relationship. Whenever Stevecalls Ramirez 'lieutenant,' Ramirez has him call him 'Pete.' WhenRamirez is all business because Steve has crossed the line, he makesSteve call him 'lieutenant.' Steve drives an armored truck and Dundeeand his henchmen plan to rob the armored track company that employsSteve. Sure, "Criss Cross" has the stock-in-trade message that 'crimedoesn't pay' and it is emphasized by everybody but the optimisticSteve. Initially, an armored truck official brags, "Nobody ever gotaway with the heist on an armored truck in 28-years. Matter of fact,they don't even try any more." Later, Finchley (Alan Napier, who playedAlfred the Butler on TV's "Batman") objects to the robbery because theyalways end in failure until he listens to Steve's inside idea. Vincent(Tom Pedi of "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three") raves about theinterjection from another henchman that everybody on that robbery woundup dead or in the chair.Siodmak and Planer do a good job staging the heist. The criminals setoff smoke bombs so that everything takes place in a kind of limbo withSteve trying to thwart the robbery after shooting breaks out that hedidn't want. The paranoia in the hospital scenes where Steve feelstrapped is gripping as is the ill-fated ending that Anna and Steve meetat Dundee's hands.
German born director Robert Siodmak has directed at least three (3)film noir classics,"Phanton Lady",The Killers"(1946 version) and this gem,the best of the three "Criss Cross".Yvonne DeCarlo,in her most convincing and sexy role,is Anna the ex-wife of Burt Lancaster,who still longs for her.The femme fatale,a staple in noir films is played to the hilt by ms DeCarlo,who after another brief fling with Lancaster,winds up marrying "crook" Dan Duryea(superb).Lancaster is now an armored car driver/guard and he still can't forget the glamorous Yvonne.Well,needless to say this situation leads to fatal results.Under the forceful direction of Siomak Criss Cross is one of the GREAT NOIRS,after "Nightmare Alley",with Tyrone Power,Criss Cross is my all time favorite.THE DVD has NO commetary,for some reason Universal treats its noirsas if they were second rate.FOX knows how to release their DVDs in a first rate manner.
"Criss Cross" has all the classic elements of good film noir. Lust, crime, betrayel, murder, mobsters, the stalwart anti-hero and a sultry femme fatale all in the netherworld of b&w. With crisp direction by Robert Siodmak and a tight script, "Criss Cross" starts on a roll and doesn't stop until the finale. Steve (Burt Lancaster) can't keep away from his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne de Carlo) even after she marries mobster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). So he concocts a robbery at the armored car business where he works to throw Slim off the scent. He gets double crossed, winds up in the hospital and ironically labeled a hero by the press. But that's not the end. There's still Slim and Anna. The cast is compelling and reason enough to watch this classic but Siodmak crafted an exciting film as a whole. It seethes with tension, anxiety and a pall of doom seems to hang over everything. The sensual de Carlo is seen to good advantage and is noir perfect as the catalyst for the robbery. When Steve sees Anna dancing in a roadhouse that features a very good rhumba band (Esy Morales and his group), it's exciting because she's really sexy as she dances, tossing her dark hair. Her partner (barely glimpsed) is a young Tony Curtis. The rhumba music is exotic and pulsating and you can see that Steve is one gone dude as he watches her. So much to recommend about "Criss Cross". If you're a noir collector, this is a first rate addition. The DVD looks very good. Enjoy.
There are three things that stand out as being particularly good aboutthis film - a superb Miklos Rosza score, great black and whitephotography, and an excellent supporting performance by Percy Helton asa knowledgeable bartender. Other than these aspects though, there islittle else to make the film worth watching. It is too slowly paced,and has a dull plot in which a heist plan is meshed in withrelationship drama. It is also rather nasty at times, and the flashbacknarration feels like a forced way of explaining events. Even so, thereare still some well done sequences and a number of exciting moments inthe final third of the film, which help bring it up to scratch.Overall, it is a pretty typical noir thriller - but with someinteresting elements.
Sure, you've seen it all before: the snarling villian (Dan Duryea), the black widow babe (Yvonne DeCarlo), and the hapless fall guy who just can't help himself (Burt Lancaster). But this is vintage noir from the golden age, done with real style and conviction. What stays with me are those scenes that have since worked their way into the textbook. There's the nightclub scene, where Lancaster gazes longingly at lost love DeCarlo, while she sambas with new honey boy Tony Curtis. Meanwhile there's this pulsating latin beat that keeps going and going and everybody's shaking it except poor Lancaster. You feel the doom in the air and know this has to end badly. Then there's that nervous scene in the hospital where Lancaster's all laid up. But who's this new guy. He looks like Joe Average, but is he. Director Siodmak really knows how to shift gears and make these quiet moments creepy. Everybody's been waiting for the robbery, but it seems like a cloudy dream, the kind you only half remember and wish you could forget. Ghostly figures drift in and out of focus, yet which one's Lancaster and who's got the money. Hollywood's fog machines were really working overtime on this one. Of course, it all leads up to the final scene, which is about as good as noir gets. The moment of reckoning when everything comes together, this time with a good view of eternity and in the moonlight, no less. The feeling that it all had to happen from the beginning is so thick you can cut it with the proverbial knife. Sure, the D-cup DeCarlo's not quite up to the acting challenge, and the great Duryea doesn't get enough scenes, but consider the screen time given to two deserving foot soldiers of the golden era. Once you've seen him, you never forget him: that raspy-voiced gnome Percy Helton as the bartender. There's been no one like him before or since, a sly little troll who's escaped from the pages of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Yet I've never seen him give anything less than an A-grade performance that lifted many a B-movie above the forgettable. On the other hand, there's the completely ordinary Robert Osterloh as the mysterious stranger. His face is sort of familiar. Maybe he's the guy who fixes your car or fills your prescription or on a really bad night, shoves a gun in your gut. But like Helton, he too never gave anything less than an expert performance. Too bad his little Hollywood star never glowed, but he sure made a lot of others brighter than they were.It's all there and in the kind of irreplaceable black and white that Hollywood's been trying to remake in technicolor for years. So catch up with this original and find out why.
In a nut shell: A driven armored car driver seals his fate when hebecomes involved with his sultry ex-wife.CRISS CROSS has got to be one of the most romantic films of all timeand the fact it's a noir makes it a towering achievement. There's beenromance in noir before (POSTMAN, MARTHA IVERS, LAURA) but not likethis. Burt Lancaster's "Steve" can break your heart (no mean feat infilm noir) and Yvonne De Carlo's "Anna" is a most sympathetic femmefatale. Anna's only "fatale" in so far as she's bad luck for the men inher life. It's true Anna ended up playing everyone for a sucker -but itwasn't calculated. The lady's self-preservation instincts would make apanther proud ("In some ways she knows more than Einstein", Steve'smother notes) and the destructive things she did (marrying Slim,leaving Steve to die) were done because she was backed into a cornerlike an animal. When Steve says "Com'on Anna, you know you" it'scircular logic in more ways than one. Steve doesn't know himself but heknows Anna -and it doesn't matter to him. But Anna doesn't know her ownmind. Most film noir writers overlook the fact that Anna didn't run offwith the money when she had the chance. She was going away with Steveand was waiting for him at the beach house. Anna -because she wasterrified of Slim -opted to save her own skin in a blind panic. Howmany of us wouldn't have done the same? I don't suppose Steve & Anna'srelationship/marriage was all that different from the marriage ofSteve's co-worker (the one that took the call from his "wife" that setthe robbery in motion) or the relationship between Steve's brother andhis girl. Anna & Steve really don't know what went so terribly wrongthe first time around. They're ill-fated, star-crossed -the "Romeo &Juliet" of film noir. Steve tries to fool himself (and the audiencethrough voice-over narration) that it was Fate ...and maybe it was -ifone's obsession is one's fate. This film foreshadows PSYCHO: theopening shot that pans the nightworld of L.A. before finally settlingin on the parking-lot of "The Round-Up" nightclub where we join Steveand Anna's twisted tale in progress finds it's "dual mirror" in theopening sequence of Hitchcock's thriller. There's also aVERTIGO/POSTMAN RINGS TWICE-twist to the proceedings in that Steve hadalready married (and lost) his obsession once -yet willingly sleepwalksto his doom as history repeats itself. Then there's Dan Duryea'ssmoothly sadistic Slim Dundee (who, incredibly, also loved Anna) andthe film's centerpiece, the robbery (and it's extremely suspensefulplanning/execution) to keep any film noir fan fascinated . The urbannightclub milieu is as important to true film noir as chiaroscuro and"The Round-Up" exemplifies this with its daytime bar, night time dancefloor, and parking lot/back room conniving. Slim & Anna are never shownat home in their (undoubtably) posh digs ...only in the "Round-Up". The"Michaelangelo Pieta" portrait-ending is a haunting masterpiece of afinal image. Seminal.
The film Criss Cross starring Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo is agreat film filled with action and suspense. It's of the film noir genreand is very clear at that. The story line is very easy to follow and itkeep the viewer interested the whole way through. The film focuses onSteve, a man with a plan who goes back to Los Angeles to see if thereis another chance with his former wife Anna who is now "owned" by apowerful head boss of the "mafia." Everyone warns Steve that she's notworth it and tells him to not bother and go home but he's tooblindsided and doesn't care what it takes to win her back. He bargainsto get her back by organizing a certain heist that only backfires andcauses more drama. In the end they do wind up with each other, maybenot the way they intended though.I absolutely loved this film, it's interesting and well filmed and itjust kept my interest the whole way through. Burt Lancaster and YvonneDeCarlo were great together and I wish they had made another filmtogether as their chemistry was outstanding. All in all a great filmthat's not too long in length and has an interesting storyline at that.
Criss Cross is one of those films that never quite gained top billing, but unashamedly reigns as one of the kings of the B noir genre. Directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Phantom Lady, Cry of the City) Criss Cross is highlighted by memorable performances by Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Dan Duryea. The protagonist Steve Thompson (Lancaster) is drawn into an armored car hiest as an inside man. Lancaster neither smart not dumb is haunted by the love he still possesses for his ex-wife Anna (DeCarlo). Thompson cannot shake the fever even though Anna is married to a hoodlum nightclub owner Slim Dundee (Duryea). The power triangle seems to be controlled by Dundee, but it is Anna who has carefully measured all the angles. As in his earlier films Siodmak allows the femme fatale brooding distant power that overshadows mere hoods. When gang members carefully plot the caper around a smoke filled table, it is Anna's shadowy distant stare that reveals the real stake in the game- her. Robert Osterloh's role as the sadistic henchman posing as a mild mannered salesman is chilling. Sidomak's use of a darkened hospital room as a place for torture is one of the most creepy scenes in noir history. Nightclubs, bustling train stations, and darkened apartments provide noir imagery of a past not forgotten. Watch for screen appearances by Tony Curtis (one of Anna's rumbha partners) and Alan Napier (Batman's butler Alfred) as the respected old timer who plays the layout man.