In 1934 Diego Padilla wins the Spanish Championship of Chess and meets a French journalist, Marianne Latour, and they fall in love. At the end of the Civil War, Marianne convinces Diego to live in France with their daughter, where shortly afterwards Diego will be accused of spying by the Nazis and imprisoned in an SS prison. In prison, Diego will try to survive in a hostile environment thanks to Colonel Maier’s passion for chess.
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Four loser gangsters devise a scheme that is eviously ingenious (or profoundly stupid): to disguise a minibus as a police vehicle to rob cross-border rucks that carry human carcasses with money inside. The ploy kicks into action one evening in the New Territories, and the plot thickens with spooky and deadly encounters, including one with an identical police car – also a fake, but manned by killer gangsters who are after the same dead bodies.
Burt Lancaster plays Steve Thompson, a man who seals his dark fate when he returns to Los Angeles to find his ex-wife Anna Dundee (Yvonne DeCarlo) eager to rekindle their love against all better judgement. She encourages their affair but then quickly marries mobster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). To deflect suspicion of the affair, Steve Thompson leads Dundee into a daylight armored-truck robbery.
Nickie Ferrante’s return to New York to marry a rich heiress is well publicized as are his many antics and affairs. He meets a nightclub singer Terry McKay who is also on her way home to her longtime boyfriend. She sees him as just another playboy and he sees her as stand-offish but over several days they soon find they’ve fallen in love. Nickie has never really worked in his life so they agree that they will meet again in six months time atop the Empire State building. This will give them time to deal with their current relationships and for Nickie to see if he can actually earn a living. He returns to painting and is reasonably successful. On the agreed date, Nickie is waiting patiently for Terry who is racing to join him. Fate intervenes however resulting in misunderstanding and heartbreak and only fate can save their relationship.