Tuesday, August 18, 2009


"Criss-Cross" (Robert Siodmak, 1949) You can't tell a grown man what to do. That's the problem. Even though he's old enough to know better ("old enough to vote for two presidents") and even though he keeps saying that he's over all that, Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) comes back to L.A. and manages to get hooked up with his ex-wife (the wide-eyed Yvonne De Carlo) all over again.

And she's trouble. His mom knows it, his police lieutenant pal Peter Ramirez (
Stephen McNally) knows it. Even his bartender (Percy Helton) knows it! On top of which, she's been seen stepping out with local hood Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). And before you know it—boom!—she marries the bum.

So what are Thompson and Dundee doing planning an armored car robbery together? Dimes to donuts Anna Thompson Dundee is at the center of it all.

Bet her maiden name was "Conda."

The mess that Thompson finds himself in is done with the best of intentions, but one of the tenets of film-noir is that good intentions done for bad people are a recipe for disaster. No good deed goes unpunished in the dark alleys and side-streets of film noir, even in blinded-by-the-light sunny Hell-A. And director Siodmak,one of the architects of noir-style,
finds the shadows cast even in the noon-day sun.

"Criss-Cross" is a good minor example of the genre, with nice performances by Lancaster, DeCarlo and Duryea. And look for
Tony Curtis in a brief (and silent) early appearance.

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