Robert Siodmak reteams with his Killers leading man in this bitter, baroque noir. Intertwining past and present, Criss Cross traces the fateful love triangle between Steve (Burt Lancaster, carefully modulating between wide-eyed romanticism and despair), his ex-wife Anna (raven-haired femme fatale Yvonne De Carlo), and her current husband Slim (sniveling, sour Dan Duryea). The film boasts unforgettable site-specific details: As Slim and Steve plot an armored-car robbery in a shabby Downtown apartment, Angels Flight passes like a sentry in the window behind them; Steve tails Anna at Union Station; and Steve dismounts the “Red Car” trolley near his family’s Victorian home on Bunker Hill. Working at his prime, Siodmak envelops the film’s manifold betrayals and breakdowns with an inky palette and near-hallucinatory atmosphere. From its bravura centerpiece—a gunfight set amid a ferocious whirlwind—to a sensuous sequence as Steve watches Anna dance with another man, Criss Cross is the complete package: a masterful blend of form and content.
Bing Theater | $10 for the general public, $7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID; $5 LACMA Film Club members | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.