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Criss Cross - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
Criss Cross
SIFF link: Criss Cross (USA, 1949, 88 minutes, Robert Siodmak)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian | Presented in 35mm!

Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) left town after divorcing Anna (Yvonne DeCarlo). Upon returning, he finds Anna eager to rekindle the relationship. However, she has already re-married, to mobster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). Steve's friends – particularly his best friend police Lieutenant Pete Ramirez (Stephen McNally) – had warned hium that Anna was trouble, but as the wife of a mobster she's even worse trouble.

Steve had left his job as an armored truck driver on good terms when he left town before, and the were willing to re-hire him when he returned. What can an armored truck driver who's desperate for something (in this case, for Anna) do for a mobster? Make the otherwise-impossible crime of robbing an armored truck plausible.

5 Fair In his commentary, Eddie Muller noted that the film was produced by Mark Hellinger, who had been a successful Broadway theater columnist, and dabbled as a playwright, screenwriter, and in other types of writing. He had another successful career as a film producer, but died during the production of this film, which is credited to Michael Kraike as producer. For this film, he brought back a lot of the people involved in The Killers, an adaptation of a Hemingway short story: director Robert Siodmak, star Burt Lancaster, and a lot of the crew.

The screenplay, by Daniel Fuchs and based on the 1934 novel by Don Tracy, is quite solid. It seems like a stretch for a stand-up guy like Thompson to make a deal with a mobster like Dundee, but people do foolish things for love. I rate the script good. Likewise, the directing was good, and the effects during the big action scene were impressive for 1949.

The acting was the film's downfall. Burt Lancaster was good, Dan Duryea was very good, but Yvonne DeCarlo was lackluster, and made Lancaster look bad in their joint scenes. The romance that drove the plot was unconvincing, and that took away a lot from the film as a whole.

Overall, I rate the film fair.

Languages: English.

Rating: This film was released before the MPAA era. I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13", for violence, smoking, and drinking.

Screening: 9:30 pm, SIFF Cinema at the Egyptian.
Audience: about half full, 450 seats (450 main floor; 125 balcony was closed). The theater had a heating problem, and was sweltering.

Snacks: popcorn.

Ads and announcements: If there were any ads, I missed them. However, Eddie Muller provided a commentary, which I recorded. I can transcribe it or upload it somewhere if I can't find a link to someone else's recording.

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