In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb five acts poster

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Director Susan Lacy has the great advantage of a subject whose life has been extensively documented literally since birth.

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Triple Cross

  |  

Terence Young's "Triple Cross" is a slow-paced, loosely plotted excursion into the Spy business. One or two competent performances struggle to its surface, tread water briefly and sink. It's hard to fix the blame.

The story itself is interesting enough. It's allegedly based on the true-life adventures of one Eddie Chapman, safecracker extraordinaire, who was jailed on the island of Jersey just before World War II broke out. When the Germans occupied Jersey, he convinced his new superiors to let him spy for the Third Reich. Then he contacted British Intelligence and became a double agent, that creature so rare in real life and so common in the movies.

Advertisement

Perhaps that's part of the problem. There have been so many genuinely superior pictures during the current spy boom that a mediocre one, no matter how well cast, suffers in comparison. After "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" and "The Ipcress File," audiences have come to expect very tight, explicit plotting, in which they can engage their own deductive powers. "Triple Cross" offers no such opportunity. The story line is unreeled with such patience and lack of suspense that toward the end one wonders if this is really the same Terence Young who did the quick and witty early James Bond films. It is.

Some of the trouble can be traced to the dialog. One gets the curious impression that the characters aren't really talking to one another, or in any event aren't listening.

Lines drop out of a clear sky with no reference to what was just said. Characters speak almost at random, as if someone had gone through the script removing every fourth line. It's uncanny.

The plot itself offers no real conflict or danger, and so the film boils down to the good performances of Christopher Plummer (as Chapman) and Gert Frobe (as a German baron). Plummer achieves a nice note of cocky disregard for danger and authority. Perhaps in real life Chapman himself, noted for his daring robberies, got something of the same thrill in skirting exposure.

Frobe, as always, plays a Nazi officer with a delicate mixture of authority and mischief. And, as always, he turns out in the end to be not so much a Nazi as a good guy victimized by the system.

Popular Blog Posts

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

On the new Criterion release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which includes a new 50-minute-longer extended cu...

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone Star in Netflix’s Daring, Brilliant Maniac

A review of the phenomenal new Netflix show starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus