Loosely based on a true story, Christopher Plummer plays British bank robber Eddie Chapman who finds himself caught between the waring parties in WW2, the British and the Germans. working ... See full summary »
Loosely based on a true story, Christopher Plummer plays British bank robber Eddie Chapman who finds himself caught between the waring parties in WW2, the British and the Germans. working as a spy for both sides he tries to play the 3rd reich and the British against each other. the real life Chapman described himself as a completely 'amoral' person, which adds a nice philisophical touch to this somewhat colourful spy-flic. Is there any moral in making war ? Even if you're the 'good' fighting 'evil' ? Written by
While the movie ending implies that Baron Von Grunen (Yul Brynner) dies after being shot in the back (or allows the viewer to infer such), actually Chapman and Von Grunen remained friends after the war. Von Grunen even attended the wedding of Chapman's daughter. See more »
Near the beginning of this film set in 1939 Christopher Plummer is reading a 1966 newspaper with the front page headline "New Concord Cost Shock" See more »
I'm a realist. I'm in prison and I want to get out! I don't give a damn for Germany, or for England either. Why should I? What have they done for me lately?
See more »
A good wartime thriller that could have been great
"One could give him the most difficult of missions knowing that he would carry it out and that he would never betray the official who sent him, but.. it was highly probable that he would rob the official who sent him out... He would then carry out his mission and return to the official whom he had robbed to report." Thus did a young filmmaker who found himself in British Intelligence during WW2 describe Eddie Chapman. Certainly if Chapman didn't exist, you'd have to invent him. Playboy, conman, burglar, spy, a member of the pre-WW2 'Gelignite Gang' and the only British citizen to be awarded the Iron Cross, during WW2 he was recruited by the Nazis as a spy only to end up spying on them for the British. Terence Young would appear to be the perfect director to bring his story to the screen - not only did he direct three Bond movies but he had been a friend of Chapman's: in fact, he was the young intelligence officer who gave that realistic appraisal of his abilities and weaknesses. Unfortunately, the book 1967's Triple Cross was based on was heavily vetted by MI5 and the film had even less to do with the truth, either as Chapman (who didn't care much for the film) told it or as it really happened.
One of those international co-productions so popular in the late Sixties (in this case Anglo-French), it has a good cast - Christopher Plummer as Chapman, Romy Schneider, Trevor Howard, Yul Brynner and Bond veterans Gert Frobe and Claudine Auger - and a more than healthy budget. On paper, the Private War of Eddie Chapman, Inc. certainly has everything it needs for an above-average thriller, with Chapman a potentially perfect 60's antihero. Arrested while posing as a financier ("I handle other people's money") in the Channel Islands and still imprisoned when the Germans invade, he's quick to offer his talents to the invaders on the grounds that "I'd rather live for Germany than die for England." After being vetted by Frobe's policeman and Schneider's Countess he finds himself under exclusive personal contract to Brynner's old school general and eventually sent back to England to destroy an aircraft factory, only to immediately offer his services to the even more suspicious British - for the right price.
Yet while it maps out a steady course it all seems a little unambitious, happy to settle for enjoyable enough Saturday night fare. Moments ring true, such as Chapman being paid in British Stirling taken from troops captured at Dunkirk or Howard refusing Chapman's request for a Distinguished Service Order because "I happen to wear it myself when I'm in uniform and I'm a snob about whoever else should wear it," while the film is particularly successful in showing the gradual defeatist attitude that overtakes the Germans, from generals merely grunting a reply to a Heil Hitler to Chapman's working for the British becoming an open secret in the German intelligence community that no-one cares enough to do anything about. Plummer's a convincingly amoral Chapman, blithely untroubled by any semblance of conscience and enjoying the ride, but it's Frobe's suspicious ex-policeman, secure in the knowledge that police are always needed whatever regime is in power, who is the most interesting character despite never being developed as enough of a potential threat. Unfortunately, there's rather a lack of threat throughout despite a couple of minor moments of suspense, Chapman's unshakeable self-belief being mirrored by a script that never seriously conveys the possibility of discovery.
If he's not as lazy as he'd later become, Young's die-hard bad habits are present, from the trademark dodgy dubbing of bit players (step forward Robert Rietty at the microphone) and casting of old pals like Anthony Dawson (Professor Dent in Dr No), with the film managing to be a rather slick package that's perhaps not as well wrapped as it could be in places - to use a metaphor the famed bon vivant probably would have approved of, a good wine delivered in a slightly cracked bottle. Chief among the cracks is the oh so happening Sixties title song that's so wrong it's almost lovable, with dementedly cast-off Bond-song lyrics
"You've been crossed/And even crossed double/If you've been around, that's normal for the cooourrrsssse/But you won't believe the trouble/You'll find in just one man/The man of the Triple Cross!!!/Give him love/He will always keep taking/He can only win/And you will take the loss/So before your world is shaken/Escape him if you can/The maaa-aaa-aaannn of the Triple Cross!!!!"
There have subsequently been two books about Chapman's exploits this year, with Ben Macintyre's Agent Zigzag highly recommended if you want to find out the true story. But as rainy day take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt entertainment, Triple Cross does well enough.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?