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This is a good, keep-you-guessing mystery. William Powell plays a man who doesn't remember anything of his life beyond 13 years ago. Circumstances begin to make him doubt himself and wonder what he had done before an accident caused him to have amnesia. He is very much in love with his wife (the beautiful Hedy Lamarr), and it is riveting to watch his self-assurance crumble as clues begin to reveal a possible shady past. Also starring Claire Trevor and Basil Rathbone. Good movie, especially if you are a William Powell ("The Thin Man") and/or Hedy Lamarr fan.
I was drawn to this by the presence in the cast of William Powell, an actor whose graceful charm always lent class to any movie he appeared in. His work in this surprisingly good story of mystery and blackmail, lives up to expectations. The plot manages to surprise one throughout and keeps one's interest going right to the end. Good script, good direction, and a nice setting in 1920's France. Basil Rathbone turns in a nice bit as a villainous character from the past. Worth seeing.
William Powell is a rising diplomat whose past may - or may not - have
come back to haunt him in "Crossroads," also starring Hedy Lamarr,
Basil Rathbone, and Claire Trevor. Powell plays David Talbot, a
successful man with the French government, who is happily married to
Lucienne (Lamarr) when he is accused of being a criminal named Jean
Pelletier. He is blackmailed by the slimy Sarrou (Rathbone) and the
flashy Michelle (Trevor). In fact, Talbot has amnesia and doesn't
remember anything before the last 13 years. Is he Pelletier or isn't
This is an interesting story with a huge hole in it, but nevertheless, the cast is talented and the story intriguing enough to keep the viewer interested. Powell is excellent in a serious role, which by this time had become somewhat unusual for him, and Lamarr is lovely as his wife and looks beautiful. No surprise there. Rathbone and Trevor make a neat pair of crooks.
"Crossroads" makes for fun watching. Just don't think about it too much.
WILLIAM POWELL and the gorgeous HEDY LAMARR co-star in a tale of an
amnesiac who can't recall what happened to him when a train wreck wipes
out part of his memory. Two very cunning crooks (BASIL RATHBONE and
CLAIRE TREVOR) take advantage of him by posing as people who want to
help him and then plotting to extort money from the wealthy French
diplomat and his wife in order to hush up the crime they say he
actually did commit.
While the story itself seems far-fetched at points, it does make for an intriguing tale and it's played to the hilt by a very competent cast--although Powell as a French diplomat is a bit hard to swallow.
The sinister overtones are well played by Rathbone and Trevor, both of whom always excelled at playing shady characters in films of the '40s, with Rathbone shifting from his Sherlock Holmes roles to those of the villain. They do much to give the film a flavor of film noir, as does the B&W cinematography.
It's a clever tale, well directed by Jack Conway, and gives Powell and Lamarr a much better chance to emote than they would have two years later in a misguided comedy called THE HEAVENLY BODY.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into this film with relatively modest expectations. Sure I am a
fan of William Powell, but I had never heard of the film and had no
idea what it was about. Wow, was I surprised to find that it was one of
his best films--a mystery-suspense film that packed exceptional writing
and acting into a fun to watch package.
Powell plays a French diplomat (strange casting, I know). He gets an extortion letter that threatens to expose him as having a criminal past. Unfortunately, although he is now a decent and well-respected man, this past COULD be true. You see, Powell had been in a train wreck many years before and still has no idea who he was before the accident due to his having received a substantial head injury.
At first, the accusation appears to just be a jerk trying to bleed him of his wealth--this is especially apparent when a man (Basil Rathbone) testifies categorically in court that Powell is NOT the criminal. However, when Rathbone later shows up and wants money not to divulge that Powell REALLY IS the crook, the movie becomes more interesting.
While I could tell more of the plot (thus ruining the movie), I want to talk about the writing. So many times this film COULD have taken the easy or clichéd way out, but instead of insulting the intelligence of the audience, what unfolds seems believable and fascinating. This is truly an example of a film where the writing is the star. Sure, Powell, Rathbone, Hedy Lamarr and Claire Trevor are wonderful in the film--top actors performing with great gusto and flair. And, of course, the direction is superb, but it all boils down to a film that could have just been an ordinary or above average movie, but rises to a higher level of entertainment. An exceptional and relatively undiscovered film.
Slickly done MGM programmer. It may not be a top-of-the-line production, but it still has the studio's signature polish and glamor. The premise is an intriguing one-- is successful diplomat Powell also a murderer with a bad case of memory. With luscious wife La Marr and an ascending career, he's got a long way to fall if he is. Powell is his usual urbane self, while La Marr and Trevor get to play dress-up, big time, while Rathbone gets a break from Sherlock by playing a rather nasty villain. There's nothing special here, just an entertaining diversion with a rather unsurprising ending. For those interested in European types, this is a good opportunity to catch them under a single roof, as it were-- especially Felix Bressart, whose pixilated professor lifts the sometimes stolid proceedings. Aesthetically, there's one really striking composition of black and white photography. Powell's on his way to the river to end it all. But next to the coursing dark waters separated by a zigzagging wall is a shimmering cobblestone boulevard lit by three foggy street lamps. It's an uncommon depth of field with subtly contrasting shades of black and gray. All in all, it's a real grabber, and demonstrates vividly those values that have been lost in the wholesale move to Technicolor.
Not a lot to add to what others have suggested, but this is a very
lovely bit of movie making.
Powell really gets to display the acting chops that he had in spades. His ability to show pain, uncertainty and angst is not something that he got to do a lot, and it's enjoyable here. And the writing really helps. Powell seems, in so many ways, to be a contemporary actor, despite the thin mustache! He was just such a natural!
Hedy is mostly eye candy, but that's not her fault. Felix Bressart puts in a spot-on performance. He really nails his role beautifully. Trevor and Rathbone are solid, as always.
And this movie is really shot well, too. Great B & W photography that helps maintain a noir- esquire mood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film involves a French government worker (William Powell) who all of a sudden is accused of having another identity several years ago involving a murder and stolen money. Hedy Lamarr plays the wife of the French government employee. This movie had me second guessing whether William Powell did have amnesia or if he was being "conned" into a past history for which he had no recollection (he has suffered a coma several years ago). Eventually, William Powell does figure it all out and I thought I was looking at the Nick Charles character piecing together all of the evidence at the end of the movie. The only thing missing was Myrna Loy and Asta. A somewhat different role for William Powell in this film. Instead of the "take charge" persona that you often see for him in other movies, he is the one who is totally unsure of himself in this film. A somewhat refreshing change of pace for him. Hedy doesn't have that much of an impact in this movie, but is still her usual glamorous self. Claire Trevor and Basil Rathbone portray the major villains. Felix Bressart (from the Shop Around the Corner) plays a psychologist friend of William Powell.
Claire Trevor is my pick for interest in this, though William Powell is always engaging. He does well in a different sort of part for him, a man who has cause to doubt himself. But character shows true, not something you can hide with such close alliances as in his life and over time. He just does not have the criminal bent about him. But you begin to wonder as it goes along. The marriage is one of those society types, where it's always "darling" and other formalities, yet they demonstrate a solid bond. Good Hedy Lamarr vehicle for a deeper sort of character and inner attractiveness. It's not just the background and beauty here that make up her weight. But Claire Trevor has that intriguing woman thing down in this, doing both the refined veneer along with the bald adventuress well. Rathbone has a different role type also, having more of the nervous edginess, needing side coaching from the Trevor character. The old lady playing the fake mother is good also. As one said here, there is the formula element about the film, but there is depth of interest as well.
I don't think that's redundant. Think of how many mysteries in which
the culprit/villain/murderer is known from the beginning of the film
(for instance, "Sleuth"). Those are 'cat-and-mouse' stories, and it's a
matter of time before the perp is found out.
"Crossroads", however, remains mysterious until the very end, and the mystery deepens as the film unfolds. William Powell, at his urbane best, is the amnesia victim who may or may not have been a criminal before his accident. Hedy LaMarr is his devoted wife and is gorgeous but with little else to do. Basil Rathbone is in one of his patented Loathsome Villain roles and gives the picture the rating I gave it.
The picture is extremely well written and holds the interest throughout its 84 minutes, which in this case fly by - no chance to check your watch in this one. Don't know if it was an 'A' or a 'B' at the time, but "Crossroads" is one of the best unheralded movies ever made.
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