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Criss Cross (Universal Noir Collection)
Criss Cross
Universal Noir Collection
Actors: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Esy Morales
Director: Robert Siodmak
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 28min

An armored-car guard must join a robbery after being caught with his ex-wife by her gangster husband. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 07/06/2004 Starring: Stephen Mcnally Griff Barnett Run time: 87 minutes ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Esy Morales
Director: Robert Siodmak
Creators: Franz Planer, Ted J. Kent, Michael Kraike, Daniel Fuchs, Don Tracy, William Bowers
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/06/2004
Original Release Date: 01/12/1949
Theatrical Release Date: 01/12/1949
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

"I shoulda kicked your teeth in..."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Criss Cross...a state of being at conflicting or contrary purposes...that's what Mr. Webster may say in his book, but I'd probably use giving someone the double cross, the Judas kiss, selling out, double dealing, the flimflam, a snow job, hoodwinked, a four-flusher, swindle, two-timer, bamboozler, chicanery, giving someone the screwgee...any of these may apply for something most of us have probably experienced in allowing someone to get close enough to us, affording them trust, only to discover later on they weren't deserving of said trust, using against us in some fashion or other...and that's the meat of this film...

Criss Cross (1949), directed by Robert Siodmak who also directed The Killers...the 1946 version with Burt Lancaster, and not the 1964 version with Lee Marvin (both are available on one Criterion DVD...pick it up, it's worth it), stars legendary tough guy and self-taught actor Burt Lancaster (Brute Force), along with the extremely beautiful Yvonne De Carlo (Brute Force, The Ten Commandments). Also appearing is Dan Duryea (Ministry of Fear) in one of his more typical roles as a villainous hoodlum, although I did recently see him in the film Black Angel, showing that he could also play the protagonist equally as well (the character may have been intrinsically weak, but the characterization wasn't).

Steve Thompson's (Lancaster) got it bad...for what (actually, it's `for whom'), you may ask? For his rather flighty ex-wife Anna (De Carlo). The film, set in Los Angeles, begins with Thompson returning home after kicking around the states, working odd jobs, all in an attempt to remove his ex-wife from his mind (he was unsuccessful). Soon we are into an extensive flashback, detailing the events that led up to Steve leaving, specifically his relationship with his ex-wife running hot and cold, and her eventual marriage to local hoodlum Slim Dundee (Duryea), but she's still got it bad for Steve...their relationship is extremely complicated (and kinda sick, if you ask me), exaggerated by outside influences like Steve's mother and a friend of the family who's also a police lieutenant. Anyway, Steve happens to work for an armored car company, and in an effort to free his love from the clutches of Slim, he offers Slim and his gang an opportunity they can't resist involving a whole lot of dough-re-mi. Problem is who can be trusted? Especially when there's so much moola involved...and let's face it, virtue isn't exactly a quality found or coveted within the criminal community...

I really did enjoy this film a lot, despite a few, minor issues. Lancaster is wonderful as the lovesick mug inexorably drawn into the seedy world of low level criminals in an effort to save Anna, a woman who may, or may not need saving, as her intentions seemed a bit murky at times, along with her loyalties. The harder he tried to get away from her, it seemed the stronger the draw...also, the more inaccessible she became, the worse he wanted her...reminded me of a child with a toy that's never played with when he has the opportunity, but when the threat of removal of the toy becomes apparent, that's when the child wants it the most. It's not so much the toy, but losing the access to the toy. Anna's flip-flopishness seems to matter little to Steve, as he's intrinsically optimistic with regards to their relationship, at least when it's revealed that Anna never stopped loving him. I thought Yvonne De Carlo did alright, but there were times when I thought she didn't sell her character as well as she could have...but I suppose when you're appearing with someone like Burt Lancaster, you have your work cut out for you. Her character annoyed the heck out of me, but I suppose it's because I once had a relationship with someone with similar characteristics, running hot and cold, completely inconsistent, etc. She made up for a lot of this by being a fabulous babe, and making easily understandable why these men are drawn to her. I thought Duryea did very well as Slim, head of a small, but colorful, underworld gang. His character seemed to fall into the same trap as Lancaster's with regards to Anna, yet he had very different methods of dealing with Anna and her idiosyncrasies (think more in the physical sense). The main, individualizing difference between Steve and Slim is highlighted excellently near the end, with Anna still stuck squarely somewhere outside the middle, torn between her base intentions and her humanizing elements. Siodmak's directions worked really well, but the pacing did slow down a little, due to all the time spent on detailing the volatile relationship between Steve and Anna, which I think was time well spent, serving to really flesh out the two main characters and raising the film above the standard `noir' thriller. The story had a definite Shakespearian quality about it, star-crossed lovers fighting against their predetermined fates. The supporting cast did very well, especially Tom Pedi (a very Italian member of Slim's gang) and Alan Naiper, who played Finchley, the man Slim and his gang turned to when elaborate plans needed to be drawn up, and he had the ability to not only foresee complications, but also develop the appropriate contingencies. I also really appreciated the way the film ended, as it was one of the better finales I've seen in a long time (the only other that comes to my mind at this moment is Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious). It sure didn't `cop out', although the opportunity was certainly presented.

The transfer looks pretty good, and the audio is strong and clear. The film is presented in full screen format (original aspect ratio) and supplemented with a meager original theatrical trailer (Universal doesn't seem to appreciate the capabilities of the DVD format with their lack of extras...oh well, I'm just glad to have the opportunity to watch the movie). All in all, not only a great `noir' film, but also a great film in general.

88 Minutes of Unforgettable Noir
Vincent Tesi | Brick, New Jersey | 05/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 07/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""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."
A brutal tug-of-war over femme fatale Yvonne DeCarlo!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 08/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Being an absolute film noir fanatic, I just had to purchase all the Universal noir dvds recently released. This is, in my opinion, the cream of the crop. Burt Lancaster plays an armored car driver who can't get over his beautiful ex-wife, played by Yvonne DeCarlo. Just as he's planning to get back together with her she marries mobster Dan Duryea, who quickly becomes her worst nightmare. However, she still can't stay away from Lancaster, & when Duryea becomes suspicious, Lancaster plans a heist along with Duryea in order to convince him that all he's after is money. Duryea has plans of his own, however, & the heist doesn't exactly go "as planned". The final confrontation between Duryea & Lancaster & DeCarlo is unforgettable. DeCarlo plays a greedy femme fatale to perfection, & Duryea & Lancaster, both already "veteran" actors of film noirs by 1948, are terrific as usual. If you're into noir heist movies then I also recommend "The Asphalt Jungle". "Criss Cross" is a classic of the genre that has it all: uncontrolled lust, greed, betrayel, murder, robbery, & lots of suspense. Do yourself a favor & add this to your collection!"