Corporate executive Carl Schaffner is a German-born British industrialist in New York on business. After he gets word that Scotland Yard is investigating a $3,000,000 embezzlement he has ... See full summary »
Corporate executive Carl Schaffner is a German-born British industrialist in New York on business. After he gets word that Scotland Yard is investigating a $3,000,000 embezzlement he has committed, the imperious, mean-spirited Schaffner thinks he has sufficient time to take an inconspicuous train to Mexico where he can escape extradition. He miscalculates, and his crime has become headline news before he can cross the border. He drugs and switches identities with fellow train passenger Paul Scarff, who looks like him and has a Mexican passport. He throws him off the train but later discovers that Scarff is wanted in Mexico as a political assassin. Schaffner must double back and track down Scarff to get his original passport back. He allows himself to be taken to Mexico as Scarff, where he declares his true identity to local police because as Schaffner he is not wanted there. The local police chief and Scotland Yard inspector Hadden conspire to keep him trapped in the Mexican border ... Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Across the Bridge has one of those titles that makes it sound like an Arthur Miller play but is actually based on one of Graham Greene's guilt-racked stories. And it's a corker, with a great premise that reminds you that before he moved on to guilt, infidelity and Catholicism, Greene wrote cracking pulp thrillers like A Gun for Sale. Rod Steiger is powerful and shady financier Carl Schaffner, on the run from the British police in America and trying to cross the border into Mexico before he can be extradited. So he does what any one of us would do - kills another person who looks vaguely similar to steal his Mexican passport and travel unhindered on that. Naturally, things go wrong. He finds himself saddled with the dead man's dog. The dead man turns out to be a killer wanted by the Mexican police. And the dead man turns out not to be dead. And that's not the least of it, as the unexpected plot twists mount while Schaffner starts to look like the least corrupt person in the film compared to the strokes Noel Willman's patiently greedy Mexican police chief and Bernard Lee's determined but less than ethical Scotland Yard man are willing to pull to either get his money or lure him across the bridge...
Ken Annakin's film may be shot on location in Spain, but it has a resolutely British studio look to both its photography and its interior work (as well as its rather over-emphatic James Bernard score) - you can take the British out of Britain but not the Britishness out of their films, it seems. Not that that's a complaint: indeed, it gives the film a strange texture that you don't naturally associate with this kind of material that adds to its anonymously professional uniqueness. Steiger's performance is at once theatrical (while contained enough not to descend into the ham of later roles) yet convincing - and the existence of similar fraudsters like Robert Maxwell only adds to the credibility. But more than that, as he is stripped of everything, he attains a genuine heroic quality. That it manifests itself in an almost pathetic act to repay the only soul in the world that does not betray him only makes this shambling, ungainly figure all the more tragic. And who can blame him - one look into Dolores' eyes and you'd do the same.
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