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A Tribute To Slimy Dan


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Our boy Dan shilling for Blatz Beer (Blatz Beer?) in 1952.

 

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(I just hope Lizabeth Scott didn't pour that beer for him). ;)

 

Wait, Duryea was from White Plains, not Milwaukee.  Guess he wasn't a fan of Fearless Fosdick's school of truth in advertising.

 

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Anna didn't manipulate Steve into a life of crime.  Instead he made up the lie about wanting to see Slim to plan a robbery to ensure the safety of Anna and himself.     Again,  the actual women that got Steve involved in all of this was his mother when she asked the detective to threaten Anna with prison.  To me that is a major part of the storyline that you conveniently fail to mention.   The actions of the mother and the detective were the dirtiest and most selfish acts committed by anyone in the film (even more so than Slim killing the guard since that was done for self protection).   So to me Steve's mom and his so called friend the detective were more responsible in leading the normally decent man Steve astray then Anna.

 

In Gilda Johnny's loyalty to Ballin was more responsible for the negative things that happened to him (e.g. running a criminal cartel), than anything Gilda did.    Gilda does love Johnny and I assume Anna loves Steve in more than just a sexual way, but I do understand why that can be disputed especially given the overt sexual themes Siodmak films are known for .

 

If Steve didn't lead Slim to where Anna was, I assume Steve and Anna would have run off together.  

 

Hey, if I didn't know you were so fair minded as it relates to women,  I would think you were one of those guys that always blames everything on the dame.     :D

 

LOL

 

Hey, who ever said I WAS "fair-minded" anyway, HUH?! ;)

 

And yeah, I know you keep harping on his mother and Pete the cop as being the real culprits in his conversion to a life of crime, but I think in this case, the old expression of "unintended consequences flowing from good intentions" seems a more actuate description of this plot point, and not so much some kind of "villainous act" by those two parties. 

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LOL

 

Hey, who ever said I WAS "fair-minded" anyway, HUH?! ;)

 

And yeah, I know you keep harping on his mother and Pete the cop as being the real culprits in his conversion to a life of crime, but I think in this case, the old expression of "unintended consequences flowing from good intentions" seems a more actuate description of this plot point, and not so much some kind of "villainous act" by those two parties. 

 

I just don't see good intentions here but instead busy bodies.  Anna wasn't a floozy,  hustler, or criminal.   She worked as a sales clerk.   Sorry,  but to ask a detective to use the power of his position to threaten someone with prison just because mom hates the girl is low and dirty (and I assume a crime in the case of the detective).    The detective doesn't even feel guilty about his actions.  Instead after he realizes Steve was involved in the robbery and that Slim will be out to get him,  he ensures the hospital is unguarded.  He even mocks Steve making him paranoid.   I can't find any good intentions in those actions.

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If I were Steve's mom, I might have done the same thing.  The two were married before and it did not work out.  Two years later, they meet up again, and it's still not working out.  Steve's mom knows that Anna (and Steve) hang out with dangerous people, and she fears for her son.  I would have to see the movie again to check out all the nuances, but I don't think I'd change my mind on this.

 

On another note, I remember when the Munsters came out, my mom, who never ever said anything about movies, stars, or the like - remarked that Yvonne De Carlo was once considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.  In Criss Cross, I could see it.  Her hair was a lighter color and she was not as heavily made up as I saw her in later movies. And younger, of course.

 

PS - while looking for photos for Yvonne De Carlo - it looks like there are some very provocative ones out there.

 

Criss-Cross.jpg

 

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Well, here are a few definitions of femme fatale that I found on line:

 

A. Merriam-Webster: : a very attractive woman who causes trouble or unhappiness for the men who become involved with her

 

B. Dictionary.com: an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; siren.

 

C.Urban Dictionary: A woman with both intelligence and sex appeal that uses these skills to manipulate poor helpless men into doing what she wants. May cause death.

 

Heck, by these vague definitions, certainly item A, who hasn't known a femme fatale? I know I have.

 

Assuming these definitions are accurate, just about any attractive woman that appears in a film noir who leads a man into a dangerous situation would qualify as one.

 

Still, and I guess few would disagree with this, there's a matter of the degree of manipulation and how deadly a woman's intention for a man may be. In this respect, de Carlo in Criss Cross is a lesser illustration of a femme fatale. Still, she apparently does qualify as one, so I guess you're right, Dargo. 

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Wait, Duryea was from White Plains, not Milwaukee.  Guess he wasn't a fan of Fearless Fosdick's school of truth in advertising.

 

 

To be fair to our man Dan he only claims to have been in Milwaukee, not to have been from there.

 

P.S. : I take that back. He does say he's from Milwaukee in one of those ads. Oh, well, what can you believe in an ad anyway?

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I just don't see good intentions here but instead busy bodies.  Anna wasn't a floozy,  hustler, or criminal.   She worked as a sales clerk.   Sorry,  but to ask a detective to use the power of his position to threaten someone with prison just because mom hates the girl is low and dirty (and I assume a crime in the case of the detective).    The detective doesn't even feel guilty about his actions.  Instead after he realizes Steve was involved in the robbery and that Slim will be out to get him,  he ensures the hospital is unguarded.  He even mocks Steve making him paranoid.   I can't find any good intentions in those actions.

 

Yeah, can't disagree with anything you said here, James. I guess the only rationale for these particular plot turns were to set up the closing chain of events to follow.

 

Still say however that while these issues might also make Anna somewhat of a victim, they do not take her out of the ranks of being a "Femme Fatale" in so much as she still led Steve into the clutches of Slim, and to whom she was married.

 

Btw, I'm thinking Pete the cop didn't totally abandon Steve at the hospital, as isn't the only way you could hear those police sirens after Slim kills them up in Palos Verdes(nice place to die, btw...all there are up there now days on that peninsula are multi-million dollar homes, ya know...but I digress) would have been if Pete and his fellow cops had followed them there, right?!

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Yeah, can't disagree with anything you said here, James. I guess the only rationale for these particular plot turns were to set up the closing chain of events to follow.

 

Still say however that while these issues might also make Anna somewhat of a victim, they do not take her out of the ranks of being a "Femme Fatale" in so much as she still led Steve into the clutches of Slim, and to whom she was married.

 

Btw, I'm thinking Pete the cop didn't totally abandon Steve at the hospital, as isn't the only way you could hear those police sirens after Slim kills them up in Palos Verdes(nice place to die, btw...all there are up there now days on that peninsula are multi-million dollar homes, ya know...but I digress) would have been if Pete and his fellow cops had followed them there, right?!

 

I can agree Anna is a femme fatale but one of the lighter ones as in relates to American noir films.   But Anna didn't marry Slim to hurt Steve or out of spite towards Steve but instead out of desperation after being threaten by Pete.    

 

As for how the cops knew were to go, you have a good point.   So I assume Pete used Steve as bait, put a tail on him,  than followed him to the place and waited for Slim to show up.    Still not the type of friend on the force I would like to have.    Yea, Palos Verdes has changed since 1949!

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Criss Cross was the third film in which Dan Duryea played with Yvonne De Carlo, the previous two being a pair of 1948 westerns, Black Bart and River Lady, both of which can currently be seen on You Tube.

 

The You Tube print of BLACK BART is remarkably beautiful, sharp with fine Technicolor enhancing the visual appeal. Dan plays the title character, a smooth talking "good" bad man and gets to play de Carlo's lover. She pays Lola Montes, the dancer, and puts on a Spanish-style dance on a saloon stage at one point.

 

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It's an entertaining, if undistinguished, western, with great Technicolor and providing the opportunity to see Duryea in a lead role. Dan remains "cool" under all circumstances in this film, particularly when facing eminent death by either rope or bullet.

 

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Three western bad guys in Black Bart, with two of them most unlikely casting, Jeffrey Lynn and Percy Kilbride. One of the amusing aspects of this film is watching the blatant doubling of Kilbride in any scene in the film which requires him to be on a horse or driving a stagecoach. The face of the double, who looks NOTHING like Kilbride, is very much there to see only to be followed a moment later by  - CUT - a shot of Percy.

 

At least in Dan's case, when playing Black Bart he wears a mask over his face, therefore his doubling in the many horse riding sequences is not so obvious.

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But de Carlo is NOT a femme fatale in Criss Cross even though she may appear as one at a superficial glance. Sure she's becomes an object of obsession for Lancaster, which leads to his doom. But not because she intends it that way. At the end she's ready to skip out on him because she's scared and thinking of her own skin but that doesn't make her evil, just human.

De Carlo is a passive femme fatale in CRISS CROSS. Her desire for a man with money drove Burt to do anything it took to get that money so he could win her back. That resulted in his downfall, which, intentional or not, was De Carlo's doing.

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De Carlo is a passive femme fatale in CRISS CROSS. Her desire for a man with money drove Burt to do anything it took to get that money so he could win her back. That resulted in his downfall, which, intentional or not, was De Carlo's doing.

According to those definitions of femme fatale that I posted earlier, you're right, DGF, she does qualify as one.

 

But at the film's end, technically a femme fatale or not, she's a frightened victim, along with Lancaster, who more passively resigns himself to his death.

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According to those definitions of femme fatale that I posted earlier, you're right, DGF, she does qualify as one.

 

But at the film's end, technically a femme fatale or not, she's a frightened victim, along with Lancaster, who more passively resigns himself to his death.

A frightened femme fatale---That's good alliteration.

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Btw, I'm thinking Pete the cop didn't totally abandon Steve at the hospital, as isn't the only way you could hear those police sirens after Slim kills them up in Palos Verdes(nice place to die, btw...all there are up there now days on that peninsula are multi-million dollar homes, ya know...but I digress) would have been if Pete and his fellow cops had followed them there, right?!

Right. Except for one thing - they were too late (unless catching Dan in the act was their prime motive for following and showing up, rather than saving Burt).

 

Hey, now I'm feeling really cynical about that cop!

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According to those definitions of femme fatale that I posted earlier, you're right, DGF, she does qualify as one.

 

But at the film's end, technically a femme fatale or not, she's a frightened victim, along with Lancaster, who more passively resigns himself to his death.

 

Do you agree with DGF statement of "Her desire for a man with money drove Burt to do anything it took to get that money so he could win her back"?

 

Note that Steve already 'had' Anna after she married Slim.   i.e. Steve and Anna had renewed their sexual relationship.   So to me the statement of 'her desire for a man with money' isn't true as it relates to Steve.   Their link was sexual not money driven.

 

As for why Anna went to Slim after that dirty play by Steve's mom and the detective;    I understand why people would assume it was because Slim had money and I'm sure that was a factor (maybe even a major one) but I also feel it was just to make a total break from Steve and his family after those threats.    It all depends on how much one wishes to believe Anna related to that scene were she explains to Steve why she married Slim.

 

Also,  while Slim was indeed a rat (hey this thread is called slimy Dan for a reason!),  he really did love Anna or at least the traditional concept of a wife and marriage.   That same scene covers this when Steve says he believed Slim wasn't the marrying kind.   That type of man typically isn't (e.g. if the issue is sex he could get that).   So to me what is at the heart of the criss cross and Slim killing the two of them is about Slim being cheated on by his wife as much as it was about double dealing associated with the robbery.    (note that a poster for the film has the saying 'when you double cross a double crosser).

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Right. Except for one thing - they were too late (unless catching Dan in the act was their prime motive for following and showing up, rather than saving Burt).

 

Hey, now I'm feeling really cynical about that cop!

"That cop" - what do you expect from the guy who later played Dutch Henry Brown.

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Right. Except for one thing - they were too late (unless catching Dan in the act was their prime motive for following and showing up, rather than saving Burt).

 

Hey, now I'm feeling really cynical about that cop!

 

Well, you'll have to remember here Tom that those 1949 Ford-built L.A. Police cars weren't the fastest things out there on the road...

 

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;)

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Well, you'll have to remember here Tom that those 1949 Ford-built L.A. Police cars weren't the fastest things out there on the road...

 

;)

 

As it relates to the detective Tom is starting to see what I saw watching this film again after last seeing it over 5 years ago.   As we have discussed when one sees a movie again, they pick up on things that they didn't pay much attention to before.   So this time around my focus was more on the surrounding characters instead of the 3 leads and the actions of Pete really hit me.  

 

Mr. Roberts is right;   watch our for that Dutch Henry Brown!

 

Oh, and related to Steve's family and his mother;  what about that guy called 'pop' that was at that reunion dinner early in the film.    He called Steve's mom 'Mrs. Thompson' more then once.  Prior to Friday I had believed 'pop' was Steve's dad but what guy calls his wife or his girlfriend by Mrs.?    

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As it relates to the detective Tom is starting to see what I saw watching this film again after last seeing it over 5 years ago.   As we have discussed when one sees a movie again, they pick up on things that they didn't pay much attention to before.   So this time around my focus was more on the surrounding characters instead of the 3 leads and the actions of Pete really hit me.  

 

Mr. Roberts is right;   watch our for that Dutch Henry Brown!

 

Oh, and related to Steve family and his mother;  what about that guy called 'pop' that was at that reunion dinner early in the film.    He called Steve's mom 'Mrs. Thompson' more then once.  Prior to Friday I had believed 'pop' was Steve's dad but what guy calls his wife or his girlfriend by Mrs.?    

 

Good point. And yeah, I also picked up on the idea that "Pop" was probably just "a close friend" of Steve's mom.

 

(...but hey, I'll bet even in 1949, women "of a certain age" had "needs" TOO, ya know!!!) ;)

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"That cop" - what do you expect from the guy who later played Dutch Henry Brown.

Right you are, mrroberts. Even Waco Johnny Dean was physically leery of Dutch Henry. (Though I think Waco Johnny was probably a lot more cunning).

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If anyone was double crossed in Criss Cross it was Slim - by both Steve and, particularly, Anna.

 

SO SLIM WAS PERFECTLY RIGHT TO EXECUTE THOSE TWO RATS (!!!!), WASN'T HE!.

 

 

 

Sorry, sorry, I let my Dan Duryea bias show through then, didn't I? ;)

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Good point. And yeah, I also picked up on the idea that "Pop" was probably just "a close friend" of Steve's mom.

 

(...but hey, I'll bet even in 1949, women "of a certain age" had "needs" TOO, ya know!!!) ;)

 

Well if mom was getting some from 'Pop' she shouldn't have tried to prevent her son Steve getting some from his ex-wife.  As you noted we all have needs!     :D

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Yeah, can't disagree with anything you said here, James. I guess the only rationale for these particular plot turns were to set up the closing chain of events to follow.

 

Still say however that while these issues might also make Anna somewhat of a victim, they do not take her out of the ranks of being a "Femme Fatale" in so much as she still led Steve into the clutches of Slim, and to whom she was married.

 

Btw, I'm thinking Pete the cop didn't totally abandon Steve at the hospital, as isn't the only way you could hear those police sirens after Slim kills them up in Palos Verdes(nice place to die, btw...all there are up there now days on that peninsula are multi-million dollar homes, ya know...but I digress) would have been if Pete and his fellow cops had followed them there, right?!

When I was living in L.A., my running club's Sunday long run was around the rim of Palos Verdes. Very scenic, especially the portion near the ocean.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just had a first time viewing of Chicago Calling, a little independent production of 1952. It has been released as a DVD  by Warners Archive.

 

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Some classify this film as a noir, though it certainly isn't typical of one. In spite of the title, the film is set largely in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles.

 

Dan Duryea shows off an impressive acting range by his casting in this film. Rather than a woman slapping heel or flamboyant western bad man, he plays a sad sack loser here. As the film begins it is soon made apparent than Dan can't hold onto a job due to a drinking problem, and his wife, who still loves him, is about to leave him because of it, taking their daughter with her.

 

Ever have a day in which nothing goes right? Well, Duryea appears to be having one of those days. Soon after his wife and daughter depart he gets a telegram from her in Chicago. Their daughter has been hit by a car and is going on the operating table. She will call him the next evening to bring him up to date.

 

But Dan gets this message just as a telephone repairman is about to remove his phone due to a $53 debt. Duryea pleads with the repairman to give him an extra day, and the repairman agrees.

 

The rest of the film shows Duryea walking the mean lower side streets of LA in an attempt to somehow get that money. This film is probably more visually reminiscent of the post-war realist cinema of Italy than it is of conventional film noir, with its dark streets and shady characters.

 

There is a desperation in this film, beautifully conveyed through Duryea's strained performance, and it's the desperation of poverty, and a man's attempt to do anything, within the legal means of the law, to get some money.

 

Along the way Duryea has a series of bad breaks, but at the same time he also encounters a few people who try to do him a small good turn. Complete strangers who sense the desperation in a man and can feel for him. A little boy on a bike who accidently strikes Duryea's dog, a girl running a hamburg stand, a telephone technician, a couple of hard faced detectives who show they're a little human, after all.

 

The seedy rundown streets of Los Angeles are captured for posterity in the wonderful on location photography of this small budget production. The cinematographer of this film is, in fact, Duryea's primary co-star.

 

Duryea's portrait of a seriously flawed everyman, so completely contrasting to the kind of roles for which he is remembered today, is quietly moving. There's an essential decency at the core of his character who is conflicted with doubts and insecurities, as well as substance abuse problems. It's a very human portrait that is the core of what makes this film work.

 

Will he get the money so he can receive that phone call? Will his daughter, to whom he is so devoted, be okay? Any parent, whether with substance abuse issues or not, can identify with Duryea here.

 

Duryea has a scene towards the film's end, a closeup as he talks on the phone, that is probably his finest moment in the film, and a small lasting little tribute to him as an actor. His desperation, his anguish, is palpable as he talks. Others in the room lower their eyes in pain at what they hear.

 

Chicago Calling is a minor effort but holds the viewer's interest as both a time capsule of 1952 LA, as well as evidence of the versatility of Dan Duryea's acting talent.

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While reading your CHICAGO CALLING write-up here Tom, I got the sense that I've seen this film before. Do you know if it has ever been shown on TCM?

 

(...of course then again, I suppose there's ALSO always the possibility that because your well crafted movie and actor write-ups so often bring these sorts of things to life so vividly, I COULD have just been imagining that I've seen this film before) ;)

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Thanks very much, Dargo. That was a very kind thing for you to say. I'm glad you enjoyed the writeup.

 

I'm pretty sure Chicago Calling has not been in TCM since I first got the channel ten years ago. However, since it is now a Warners Archive release, there is a fair possibility that it may come on. The same thing happened with another little Duryea effort of the '50s, Underworld Story. That came on TCM about a year ago or so after getting an Archive release.

 

By the way, I don't know if you recall a conversation at the time that the posters here had about Underworld Story in which it was discussed, with curiosity and some speculation as to the reason why, that an obviously Caucasian actress, Mary Anderson, was cast in the film in the role of a "black" servant charged with murder.

 

Well, that same Mary Anderson appeared in Chicago Calling, as well, made two years later, only this time she is cast rather more appropriately as Duryea's wife about to leave him at the beginning of the film.

 

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You may recall this actress best as one of the occupants of the lifeboat in the Hitchcock film of that name.

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