Criss Cross ★★★½

Great opening, killer ending, and one of the wildest and surreal heists I can think of. But the center forty minutes is bogged by one central problem: Yvonne De Carlo is no Ava Gardner, both in terms of her acting as well as her looks. To imagine getting Lancaster to go puppy eyed head over heels for her is a lot to ask based on the performance she gives—just consider how Siodmack has to limit her to close-ups in the dance sequence, when he clearly wants to use a long shot to give how infatuated Lancaster looks. But Lancaster does give his all, and Dan Duryea is a much better villain than any of the other performances I've seen of his have suggested. Siodmack is an expert framer: the entrance of Lancaster on Dureya's gang, the armored car leaving via a window of prison gates, the Langian shot of the car entering the fortress, and Dureya's final appearance out of a black night. Nothing reaches the narrative ambition of The Killers or the insane sequences that pepper Phantom Lady, but a fun one for sure.