Criss Cross (1949)


Something about Burt Lancaster’s eighth film is memorable in the way many films never were, and still aren’t.

It’s not that all the critics in the business call it a film noir. I’m agnostic on that. I think it might actually be in a class all of its own.

It’s not the nifty armoured car heist plot, with the old drunk master planner Finchley vetting every last detail for whiskey money.

It’s little things.

Like the explicit discussion of grocery prices among armoured car truck drivers. With one of them complaining about the extra cost of telephone shopping his wife does. Nineteen cents for a tin of tomato juice at the market. Forty-odd by phone for two.

Like the dance music played at the Round Up club where the heisters hang out.

Like the heist scene, shrouded in smoke, with gas-masked figures tyruggling in the gray limbo.

Like the perennially underrated Dan Duryea as the convincingly menacing gangster, Slim Dundee.

Like the double twist of betrayal and skuldggery.

I couldn’t ask for better matinée fodder.


Universal, black and white, 87 minutes.


Directed by Robert Siodmak. Produced by Michael Kraike. Written by Daniel Fuchs from the novel by Don Tracy.


With Burt Lancaster as Steve Thompson, Yvonne De Carlo as Anna, Dan Duryea as Slim Dundee, Stephen McNally as Det Lt Pete Ramirez, Esy Morales as Orchestra Leader, Tom Pedi as Vincent, Percy Helton as Frank, Alan Napier as Finchley.