Thursday, June 17, 2010
CRISS CROSS (1949). Director: Robert Siodmak.
Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) begins seeing his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) even though she's now married to racketeer Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). When the two are caught in a compromising position, Steve decides the only way out of it is to pretend he was only hoping Anna would help interest her husband in a plan he had for an armored car robbery. So he's stuck ... even though his own father is one of the other drivers. And thus begins this twisted tale, most of which is told in flashback. Duryea and De Carlo come off best, although Lancaster is no slouch. Stephen McNally is effective as a cop-friend of Steve's and Alan Napier makes an impression as a confederate who likes his liquor. Richard Long appears briefly as Thompson's brother, and if you blink you might miss Tony Curtis in a bit as Anna's dance partner. While Criss Cross is hardly a major picture and is generally too perfunctorily-handled to make the most of its situations, it's also unpredictable, absorbing, and has a dramatic conclusion.
Verdict: Entertaining film noir. ***.