Pulp Fiction Thursday: Criss Cross

Burt Lancaster’s road to stardom was built on a foundation of film noir. Criss Cross is one of his best early movies.

As always, I substitute the actor’s name for the character. It makes my life easier. I’m all about easy living during Carnival. Just ask Lady Day:

Burt’s character left Los Angeles after his marriage with Yvonne DeCarlo’s character failed. He still carries a torch as large as Lady Liberty’s when he returns home.

Yvonne has fallen into bad company since she split with Burt. She’s taken up with Dan Duryea’s character. He’s your typical Duryea character: a slick and remorseless weasel. Criminals have money: that’s why our femme fatale hooked up with him. She never thought Burt would make it because he’s a working stiff. Dan Duryea is a smooth operator.

The couple reunites, which results in disaster for our hero. DeCarlo’s character is one of the most heartless, selfish, and shallow femme fatales of all. Quite  naturally, Burt assume the rule of the best looking people applies, so it will work out somehow. Who was more beautiful in 1949 than Burt and Yvonne?

Burt takes a job as a driver with an armored truck company. Heist planning and a heist ensue. It does not go well for our hero.

In my not so humble opinion, Criss Cross is one of the best films of its genre and time. It reunited the star with Robert Siodmak who directed his stunning debut film, The Killers. I am convinced that Miklos Rosza was the best film noir composer of all. He, too, worked on The Killers.

Tony Curtis made his film debut dancing the rhumba with Yvonne DeCarlo. He was billed only as The Gigolo. He had no lines but Bernie Schwartz could really dance:

Criss Cross is based on a novel by Don Tracy that was originally called The Cheat.

Steven Soderbergh remade Criss Cross in 1995 and called it The Underneath:

It’s a solid 3-star movie but not as good as the original, which is a stone cold classic.

Grading Time: I give Criss Cross 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A.

Ready for the artwork that has made PFT a regular feature since 2007?

We begin with the 3-sheet poster.

X marks the spot.

Let’s move on to the color lobby cards for this black and white movie:

A rule of the movies in the late Forties and early Fifties is that Burt Lancaster had to take his shirt off at least once per movie.

It’s trailer time:

Eddie Muller is at the top of my list of people I’d most like to have a cocktail with. Here’s his Noir Alley intro and outro for Criss Cross: