TRIPLE CROSS (director: Terence Young; screenwriters: Rene Hardy/from The Eddie Chapman Story by Frank Owen; cinematographer: Henri Alekan; editor: Roger Dwyre; music: Georges Garvarentz; cast: Christopher Plummer (Eddie Chapman), Romy Schneider (The Countess), Trevor Howard (Freddie Young), Gert Frobe (Col. Steinhager), Claudine Auger (Paulette), Yul Brynner (Baron Von Grunen), Georges Lycan (Leo), Jess Hahn (Commander Braid), Harry Meyen (Lieutenant Keller), Jean-Claude Bercq(Major von Leeb); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jacques-Paul Bertrand; Warner Bros.–Seven Arts; 1966-UK)
“Insipid and overlong biopic of a spy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Terence Young (“Klansman”/”Dr. No”/”The Jigsaw Man”) directs this insipid and overlong biopic of a spy who changes sides during wartime and then reverses himself, resulting in a triple cross. Young had better results directing three of the first four Bond films, which were all great. Writer Rene Hardy adapts to the screen The Eddie Chapman Story by Frank Owen. It’s the alleged true story of small-time criminal Eddie Chapman (Christopher Plummer), who volunteers to work for German intelligence while serving a 14-year prison sentence for safe-cracking in Jersey at the onset of World War II. When the remote resort island has been conquered by the Germans, the obnoxious Chapman manages to convince his Third Reich handlers, Col. Steinhager (Gert Frobe), The Countess (Romy Schneider) and Baron Von Grunen (Yul Brynner), he can carry out an important secret mission inside England. But when he completes his training in occupied France and is parachuted into England, he makes contact with British Intelligence and goes over to them. His new handler is Freddie Young (Trevor Howard). The Brits promise him for his services a wad of money, to erase his prison time with a pardon and give him a medal. For the amoral and cynical Chapman, patriotism never is part of the equation. Chapman rewards the Brits in the end by supplying false info on V-1 and V-2 terror weapons used in the bombing of London. Thereby the Germans redirect their missiles into falling harmlessly in the uninhabited countryside.
Nothing about this pic is believable. Chapman comes across as an arrogant creep, and your standard Hollywood spy and ladies man. Chapman’s autobiography is questionable, and the pic thereby remains compromised. That it’s also tedious and inert, only makes it that much more difficult to enjoy. Furthermore it doesn’t help that Plummer is miscast, as he doesn’t have the lightness for the role’s romances or seemingly Bond’s savvy to so smoothly outsmart his German handlers.
REVIEWED ON 5/1/2013 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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