07 May 2010

Criss Cross

Here’s another Burt Lancaster/Robert Siodmak picture that some think is one of the All-Time Film Noir Greats (like The Killers)—but in reality, it’s pretty mediocre (like The Killers).

Lancaster plays Steve Thompson, a zero with only one thing on his mind: his ex-wife Anna (played without much sizzle by Yvonne *Lily Munster* De Carlo), who is now married to gangster Slim Dundee. Desperate to win back Anna, Thompson, an armored car driver, cooks up a scheme to double-cross Slim in a robbery—but, of course, *things go horribly wrong.*

Really, about the only thing that holds interest in this hum-drum love triangle is spotting all the bit players who went on to better things, such as Tony Curtis and Alan Napier (Alfred the butler on the Batman TV series).

The great Noir villain Dan Duryea plays Slim Dundee, who is supposed to be the bad guy here (in one scene Lily Munster shows Lancaster the bruises Slim has left on her), but Lancaster and De Carlo are such dullards, I imagine most viewers, like me, end up sympathizing with Slim, who actually has some personality, and see the movie’s supposed tragic ending as a happy ending, instead.

Again, as in The Killers, Lancaster’s character is pretty hollow. Indeed, the only memorable thing about Steve Thompson is the ridiculous coat he sports through most of the film. I mean, look at that thing! How can you take anybody seriously who goes around in a goofball get-up like that?

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