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1949 Universal noir "Criss Cross" airing Sunday Jan 4 10:15AM


LsDoorMat
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read this before it's banished to Noirsiville.  ;)

Hah! Because as you know, cigarjoe, noirs have NOTHING to do with movies. You knew that, right? <_<

 

Apparently the movie before it is pretty good, too - On Approval. Sunday isn't usually noted for good films, so these two are a treat.

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Some time ago on another thread I wrote the following about the memorable ending of Criss Cross and, in particular, Dan Duryea's performance as Slim in that scene. I thought this might be an appropriate time to re-post it:

 

SPOILER ALERT about the ending:

At the end I found it possible to regard all three principal characters in the film to be victims to varying degrees. It's most obvious, of course, in the case of Burt Lancaster, trapped by his desire for a woman in true film noir tradition. De Carlo, at the end, yes, she's going to run out on Burt (it's a bit ambiguous as to whether she really loves him) but she's doing it from fear of losing her life.

"Well, people get hurt" she says to Lancaster as she is about to take off, leaving him behind, "I can't help it if people don't know how to take care of themselves." (Meaning Lancaster). Okay, she's thinking about her skin but that just makes her human in the last scene, not evil. She might not be admirable but she's not so bad that she deserves to die.

My surprise in watching the final scene, however, were the feelings of conflict I had in observing Dan Duryea and the delivery of his dialogue. He's got the gun in his hand and he's about to do what a person who lives by a street code feels bound to do to anyone who ever double crosses him.

But it's what Duryea says to Lancaster in the final scene and how he says it than made me think that Dan's character, too, is a victim.

Duryea speaks softly, as if he is quietly resigned to what he must now do.

"You always wanted her, didn't you?," he says, "You really loved her."

There's a pause.

"You know, I did, too," he adds.

Duryea sounds like a man emphathizing with Lancaster, understanding why he had done what he had. The two men have something in common, their mutual love of de Carlo.

"But you won out," he continues, "You've got her."

"She's all yours now," Duryea softly says as he levels his gun at them and de Carlo lets out a scream as Lancaster (just as in The Killers) is resigned to his fate.

Duryea's final words before he pulls the trigger are spoken gently.

"Hold her," he tells Lancaster, " Hold her tight."

Duryea almost sounds sad.

Criss Cross ends with a cold blooded double murder performed by a man who had loved and been betrayed by one victim and understands the emotional entrapment of the other one. It brings an oddly affecting and unexpected dimension to that scene which I think is one of the classic moments of film noir.

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Some time ago on another thread I wrote the following about the memorable ending of Criss Cross and, in particular, Dan Duryea's performance as Slim in that scene. I thought this might be an appropriate time to re-post it:

 

SPOILER ALERT about the ending:

 

At the end I found it possible to regard all three principal characters in the film to be victims to varying degrees. It's most obvious, of course, in the case of Burt Lancaster, trapped by his desire for a woman in true film noir tradition. De Carlo, at the end, yes, she's going to run out on Burt (it's a bit ambiguous as to whether she really loves him) but she's doing it from fear of losing her life.

 

"Well, people get hurt" she says to Lancaster as she is about to take off, leaving him behind, "I can't help it if people don't know how to take care of themselves." (Meaning Lancaster). Okay, she's thinking about her skin but that just makes her human in the last scene, not evil. She might not be admirable but she's not so bad that she deserves to die.

 

My surprise in watching the final scene, however, were the feelings of conflict I had in observing Dan Duryea and the delivery of his dialogue. He's got the gun in his hand and he's about to do what a person who lives by a street code feels bound to do to anyone who ever double crosses him.

 

But it's what Duryea says to Lancaster in the final scene and how he says it than made me think that Dan's character, too, is a victim.

 

Duryea speaks softly, as if he is quietly resigned to what he must now do.

 

"You always wanted her, didn't you?," he says, "You really loved her."

 

There's a pause.

 

"You know, I did, too," he adds.

 

Duryea sounds like a man emphathizing with Lancaster, understanding why he had done what he had. The two men have something in common, their mutual love of de Carlo.

 

"But you won out," he continues, "You've got her."

 

"She's all yours now," Duryea softly says as he levels his gun at them and de Carlo lets out a scream as Lancaster (just as in The Killers) is resigned to his fate.

 

Duryea's final words before he pulls the trigger are spoken gently.

 

"Hold her," he tells Lancaster, " Hold her tight."

 

Duryea almost sounds sad.

 

Criss Cross ends with a cold blooded double murder performed by a man who had loved and been betrayed by one victim and understands the emotional entrapment of the other one. It brings an oddly affecting and unexpected dimension to that scene which I think is one of the classic moments of film noir.

Good analysis, TomJH.

 

Did Duryea ever play the nice guy who gets the girl? Somehow I can't see him doing song and dance, as Cagney (who played sociopaths equally well) did so well.

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Gotta love Criss Cross.  Great cast, quintessential noir type plot, fabulous noir lighting, etc.

 

But why does TCM almost always air these classic film noir pics at weird time slots?

I say, to truly get into the noir-watching spirit, they should be aired at night. Saturday and Sunday mornings, which is often when they do get shown, are very un-noirish times to run them.

 

The last time I remember TCM airing a film noir on a Saturday night, (I guess in the "Essentials" time slot), was years ago, with The Blue Dahlia. I'm not including The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon which, yes, seem to have occupied a place in the "Essentials" line-up numerous times.

 

But I actually rarely watch TCM on Saturday night anymore,because I've either already seen the selection they're airing (often many times), or I don't want to watch it because I have no interest in it (like yet another endless viewing of a David Lean extravaganza....)

 

I agree with whoever said Criss Cross deserved  a better time slot than Sunday morning. Noirs are for evening movie-watching.

 

Moving on....Tom, nice insightful comments on the ending. There's something about Dan Duryea that makes you sympathize just a little with him, regardless of how nasty a character he's playing.

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I just can't decide about this film.

 

I always get drawn into it, and I always think it reminds me of THE KILLERS.

 

And then I notice that many parts of the film don't make much sense and aren't realistic, and I get all mixed up trying to figure out what is a flashback and what is a current event.

 

If Burt came back home for the girl, and if she greets him saying she loves him and wants to be with him again, then why don't they just go off together and be together? Why go through all that gangster stuff and all that turnon/turnoff/turnon/turnoff bickering? Just take the dame and Burt in the first 10 minutes of the film and have them leave town together?

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Moving on....Tom, nice insightful comments on the ending. There's something about Dan Duryea that makes you sympathize just a little with him, regardless of how nasty a character he's playing.

Thanks, MissW. I know we're both Duryea fans.

 

It's interesting that Dan elected to give such a relatively low key performance in Criss Cross as opposed to some of his other noirish weasel roles. To me the ending is so interesting because the viewer can elect to see it from villain Duryea's viewpoint, just as much as you can from Lancaster's. And, as I illustrated, you can even, if not quite sympathize with that villain, at least detect his conflict of emotions as he commits a cold blooded act. This, I think, is a reflection of Duryea's skill as an actor.

 

white-duryea1_zps628abd6a.jpg

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Yvonne de Carlo's character here truly does keep us guessing. She's harder to read even than "Out of the Past" 's Cathy, who, once you see her true colours, at least sticks to them. (more or less.)

 

I think, like many of noir's female leads, she's torn between her physical attraction to Burt (who can blame her?) and the world of wealth and power which Duryea represents to her (although really, Dan doesnt' strike me as particularly blessed with either. Maybe it's his promises for the future...)

 

I really don't want Burt to die in Criss Cross. It's different in, say, The Killers, where he's so exhausted and disillusioned, he actually wants to die.

 

But I like Steve, and want him to live, with or without Anna.

 

Oh well, Forget it, Burt, it's Noir Town.

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Yvonne de Carlo's character here truly does keep us guessing. She's harder to read even than "Out of the Past" 's Cathy, who, once you see her true colours, at least sticks to them. (more or less.)

 

 

To me, her flip-flops seemed artificial, the work of a screen writer trying to make the plot more complex. She doesn't seem realistic.

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Lancaster's role in Criss Cross is, of course, analguous to his role in The Killers, that of the poor naive romantic sap so taken with a woman (Ava Gardner in the Killers, Yvonne de Carlo here) that it will lead to his death. In both films he is, in his final moments, resigned to his death, in true noir fashion, a victim of the noir web in which he has been trapped.

 

While Lancaster would grow as an actor and become far more dynamic and forceful later in his career, I think he's very effective in these two noirs.

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To me, her flip-flops seemed artificial, the work of a screen writer trying to make the plot more complex. She doesn't seem realistic.

I'd have to take another look at the film to make an assessment of that statement.

 

De Carlo is certainly the most ambiguous character in the film, and that ambiguity keeps the audience guessing about her.

 

In the film's final's scene, as she is about to run out on Lancaster, there are indications of a few pangs of guilt in her performance. If she loves him, it's not as great as her fear for her life. Lancaster is so smitten with her that he is pretty well ready to die with her. She feels no such "foolish" romantic notions about him.

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I'd have to take another look at the film to make an assessment of that statement.

 

De Carlo is certainly the most ambiguous character in the film, and that ambiguity keeps the audience guessing about her.

 

In the film's final's scene, as she is about to run out on Lancaster, there are indications of a few pangs of guilt in her performance. If she loves him, it's not as great as her fear for her life. Lancaster is so smitten with her that he is pretty well ready to die with her. She feels no such "foolish" romantic notions about him.

 

Actually, both Lancaster and De Carlo do flip-flops about their feelings toward one another. I think this is a synthetic plot ploy to try to make the movie seem "interesting", but to me it makes the plot seem unrealistic.

 

And didn't Lancaster offer to pay the gunman to take him to her hiding place? If it was her hiding place, how would the gunman know where it was? And if the gunman was more trustworthy than her, why wasn't he hiding in that little house with all the money, instead of her?

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I wouldn't say the characters flip flop too much as Fred suggests-- I think she feels that she is doing all the work, trying to get him to give their relationship another chance. And as she says in a later scene, she realized that it was time to stop playing the fool, so she accepted Duryea's proposal to get married in Yuma. Of course, she regrets that decision soon afterward. 

 

She realizes she still loves him. For better or worse, they are characters that cannot get each other out of their systems. 

images1.jpg

From 1945 to 1951, de Carlo made about 12 films for Universal, and only this one and BRUTE FORCE (also with Lancaster) were in black-and-white. She was photographed mostly in Technicolor during this period and throughout much of the 50s. 

imgres-1.jpg

A few things I love about CRISS CROSS-- character actor Percy Helton as Frank the bartender; the sweet relationship between Richard Long and Meg Randall (who were paired in several Universal films); and the on-location filming in Bunker Hill and Union Station. It also looks like the robbery scene was filmed in Long Beach. So there is a lot of historical footage in this picture.

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read this before it's banished to Noirsiville.  ;)

Actually I started  a thread on this film in the "Noir" section a few days ago. I am not complaining here, I'm glad to see interest in the film. But this just shows how little interest there is in paging down and looking at the other categories.  I think CRISS CROSS is one of the better "film noirs"  and is a great example of a "true noir".  A lot of other films (many  are good ones) kind of stretch the definition of the term "film noir". This film does deserve a better, more visible, time slot.

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Actually I started  a thread on this film in the "Noir" section a few days ago. I am not complaining here, I'm glad to see interest in the film. But this just shows how little interest there is in paging down and looking at the other categories.  I think CRISS CROSS is one of the better "film noirs"  and is a great example of a "true noir".  A lot of other films (many  are good ones) kind of stretch the definition of the term "film noir". This film does deserve a better, more visible, time slot.

You know, that's a GOOD point since Film Noir isn't really a genre anyway they shouldn't be confined to a genre category they should be discussed in General Discussions. 

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You know, that's a GOOD point since Film Noir isn't really a genre anyway they shouldn't be confined to a genre category they should be discussed in General Discussions. 

But this just shows how little interest there is in paging down and looking at the other categories.

 

Ernest Hemingway, you reading this? 

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Actually I started  a thread on this film in the "Noir" section a few days ago. I am not complaining here, I'm glad to see interest in the film. But this just shows how little interest there is in paging down and looking at the other categories.  I think CRISS CROSS is one of the better "film noirs"  and is a great example of a "true noir".  A lot of other films (many  are good ones) kind of stretch the definition of the term "film noir". This film does deserve a better, more visible, time slot.

We tried impressing that upon tptb, mrroberts, but failed. Thomas Mann overrode the majority.

 

I'm hoping it gets a rerun at any rate, since I missed most of it.

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Has anyone mentioned that possibly the best-known thing about this film is that viewers demanded to know who the guy was in the cameo dancing with De Carlo. It was "Anthony" Curtis, and from this appearance, stardom eventually ensued.

This may be the reason TCM acquired it. It may very well be that Tony Curtis is going to be SOTM in April or May-- and if so, then this film would certainly wind up in primetime.

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