Triple Cross (1967): Terence Young’s Spy Thriller, Starring Christopher Plummer, Yul Brynner, and Romy Schneider

Terence Young, better known for his James Bond pictures, directed Triple Cross, a rather stale and verbose Anglo-French WWII spy thriller, starring Christopher Plummer and Romy Schneider.

Our Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Shot in Eastman Color, Triple Cross was based loosely on the real-life story of Eddie Chapman, presumably the Nazis’ top spy in Britain, although he was actually an MI5 double agent known as “Zigzag.

Spoiler Alert

In the end, the Germans orders Chapman to blow up the Vickers aircraft factory, and the Brits use fake explosives and camouflage to make it seem real. His German handlers order him to return to Germany, where he learns that von Grunen has been sent to the Russian front and, because the tide of the war has turned against Germany, people are suspicious and afraid. He receives the Iron Cross for accomplishing his Vickers mission.

Chapman’s next mission to England, devised by von Grunen is intended to benefit the German military. But Chapman returns to his British handlers, who give him false information, which significantly hastens the end of the war. Chapman ends up a winner, with his pardon and financial compensation.

Considering its fascinating source material, Triple Cross is too conventional, too slow-paced, and too loosely constructed as a thriller in order to demand our attention.

The film’s title derives from Chapman’s signature to mark he was freely transmitting by radio, a Morse code XXX.

Another meaning of the title becomes clear in the film’s final scene, in which Chapman, at a bar, is asked who he was really working for. In reply, he raises his glass and salutes his reflection in the mirror.

Triple Cross is the second pairing of Terence Young and actress Claudine Auger, who was the James Bond girl in Thunderball (1965), also directed by Young.

(The movie was released in France in as “La Fantastique histoire vraie d’Eddie Chapman”).

 

Cast
Christopher Plummer as Eddie Chapman
Romy Schneider as Countess/Helga Lindstrom
Trevor Howard as British Intelligence Officer
Gert Fröbe as Col. Steinhager
Claudine Auger as Paulette
Yul Brynner as Col. Baron von Grunen
Harry Meyen as Lt. Keller
Georges Lycan as Leo

Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this film on January 29, 2020.