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Criss Cross

Criss Cross(1949)

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Voice-over narration, spoken by Burt Lancaster as his character "Steve Thompson," is heard intermittently throughout the last two-thirds of the picture. The order of the opening credits differs from the end credits. In the opening credits, Richard Long and Meg Randall are listed after Stephen McNally, and Esy Morales and His Rhumba Band are listed last. Early Hollywood Reporter production charts include a "Miss X" in the cast, and later ones include Meg McClure. Publicity material indicates that while Universal was coming up with a stage name for newcomer Randall, whose real name was Gene Roberts, she was referred to as "Miss X." It is possible that Meg McClure was an early version of Randall's stage name. Actor Tony Curtis, who was unbilled on the film but at that time was known as Anthony or James Curtis, made his screen acting debut in the film, as did Puerto Rican band leader Morales.
       Contemporary news items provide the following information about the production: Universal purchased Don Tracy's novel from the estate of producer-writer Mark Hellinger. Criss Cross was to have been Hellinger's first production away from Universal, and the first of his Valley Studio company. Some news items commented that Criss Cross was to be shot in the same semi-documentary style as Hellinger's final picture, The Naked City . Hellinger, who died in 1947, reportedly wanted Lancaster for the starring role, and the deal that Universal struck with Valley Studio included the actor's services. According to modern sources, both Lancaster and Siodmak were obligated to work on Criss Cross as part of their contracts with Hellinger's estate. Modern sources also note that Hellinger's original story idea had a racetrack setting. Anthony Veiller was announced as screenwriter in March 1948, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Jules Schermer was the film's original producer; Michel Kraike took over the project shortly before the start of principal photography. H. B. Warner and Rene Touzet were listed as cast members, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Scenes were filmed in and around Los Angeles, including Union Station, Angel's Flight, Bunker Hill, Terminal Island and a Spring Street hotel. Explosives experts Nick Carmona and Del Crawford were injured during production when a smoke bomb exploded prematurely inside the special effects department.
       On October 10, 1949, the Hallmark Playhouse broadcast a radio adaptation of the story, also starring Burt Lancaster.