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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A murder wrapped in a social message. It still holds up
Perhaps the first of the social injustice movies Hollywood began turning out in the late Forties, Crossfire is one of the few in my opinion which still hold up. That's because the social message, against hate in general and anti-Semitism in particular, doesn't become too preachy and get in the way of the story. Unlike Gentleman's Agreement (anti-Semitism), Boomerang...
Published on 15 Aug 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Full marks for the film but . . .
I have to agree with your two star reviewer on this production. Both visual and sound quality present a challenge to one's concentration. Very unfortunate since the storyline and the characterizations are of a very high standard.
Published 15 months ago by Wilberfalse


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A murder wrapped in a social message. It still holds up, 15 Aug 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
Perhaps the first of the social injustice movies Hollywood began turning out in the late Forties, Crossfire is one of the few in my opinion which still hold up. That's because the social message, against hate in general and anti-Semitism in particular, doesn't become too preachy and get in the way of the story. Unlike Gentleman's Agreement (anti-Semitism), Boomerang (legal and class injustice), Pinky (racial prejudice) and others, Crossfire tells a taut story first, in this case about a murder, and features some first-rate acting, especially from Robert Ryan.

The murder mystery is straightforward and there's little doubt about who the killer is. We know a man named Samuels (Sam Levene) has been beaten to death. We know the suspect, Corporal Arthur Mitchell (George Cooper) is one of four recently discharged soldiers who met him in a bar. We know one of the four is a big, edgy guy, Sergeant Montgomery (Robert Ryan), who laughs too much and likes to verbally poke at people he thinks are weak. The body is discovered, evidence points to Mitchell as the killer and police Captain Finlay (Robert Young) goes to work. One of Mitchell's buddies, Sergeant Peter Keeley (Robert Mitchum) doesn't think Mitchell could be a killer. In a cautious way he starts working with Finlay to establish an alibi for Mitchell, and then to concentrate on Montgomery. One of the biggest issues is what could Montgomery's motivation be. It turns out Montgomery doesn't like civilians, doesn't like "hillbillies," and hates Jews. He's a bigot. When Montgomery complains about "those kinds of guys", Finlay asks, "What kind of guys?"
"You know the kind." Montgomery says. "Played it safe during the war, keepin' themselves in civvies, nice apartments, swell dames...you know the kind."
"I'm not sure that I do."
"Some of 'em are named Samuels, some of 'em have funnier names."
It isn't long before we realize that Montgomery is a psychopath who hates just about anyone who is different. With Keeley's help, Finlay finally is able to lay a clever trap for Montgomery.

Young does a fine job as the cop. He's seen probably too much. He's tired. He's a decent man who relies on his training. "I've been at this job too long," he tells Keeley. "I go about it the only way I know how. I collect all the facts possible...most of them are useless." Mitchum, laconic but alert, makes a nice partner for Finlay. He's ready to stand by a buddy he thinks is incapable of killing, and he really doesn't like Montgomery.

Robert Ryan makes you feel uncomfortable from the moment you see him. There's something too friendly about him, something too hidden, something too ready to explode. You're not surprised when he suddenly beats Samuels to death with his fists. The difference between the part of Keeley and the part of Montgomery is, I think, the difference between a role that can lead to a reputation as a movie star and a role that can lead to a reputation as a movie actor. I think it was only when Mitchum took on unsympathetic roles in Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear that many critics realized he was a first-rate film actor, not just a star. By that time, Ryan already had the actor reputation, but major stardom had eluded him.

In a smaller part, Gloria Grahame is excellent as a dance hall hostess who might give Mitchell an alibi. With her cat eyes and pouty lips, Grahame always was distinctive. She and Paul Kelly as a man who may or may not be her husband bring an uneasy and almost surreal quality to their scenes.

Crossfire is a solid looking noir. The DVD presentation is very good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hate is like a loaded gun.", 20 Jun 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
Crossfire remains one of the best Hollywood message movies because, unlike the admirably intentioned Gentleman's Agreement, which it beat to theatres by a few months, it chooses to send its message via the form an excellent noir thriller rather than have an outraged star constantly saying "It's because I'm Jewish, isn't it?" It's much easier to get the message that hate is like a loaded gun across when the dead bodies are actual rather than metaphorical. Novelist Richard Brooks disowned the film over the shift from a homophobic murder to an anti-Semitic one, but it's interesting to note that while the victim is killed primarily because he is Jewish, there's little doubt in Sam Levene's performance that the character is in fact also gay - not a mincing caricature, but there's definitely a two lost souls aspect to his scenes with George Cooper's confused soldier. There's not much of a mystery to who the murderer is: even though the killing is carried out in classic noir shadows, the body language of the killer is instantly recognisable, but then the film has its characters drift to the same conclusion before the halfway point: the tension comes from proving it and saving the fall guy.

There's an element of Ealing Films to the gang of soldiers teaming together to get their buddy out of a fix (you could almost see that aspect as a blueprint for Hue and Cry), but the atmosphere is pure RKO noir. Set over one long sweltering night, the film has a great look filled with deep dark blacks and shadows born as much out of economy as style (it cut back on lighting time and allowed director Edward Dmytryk more time to work with the actors) and the excellent cast make the most of the fine script: a laid-back but quietly charismatic Robert Mitchum, Robert Young's Maigret-like detective, Gloria Grahame's tramp and the perpetually creepy Paul Kelly as her compulsive liar admirer, a guy who tries on stories the way other people try on ties. But the lasting impression is of Robert Ryan's excellent performance as a guy who could do with a good leaving alone as he does his best to help the wrongly accused man all the way to death row. A big surprise hit in 1946, as a reward, Dmytryk and producer Adrian Scott found themselves investigated by the HUAC, which itself had a notable tendency to target Jews. So much for crusading...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous, heady stuff, 28 April 2009
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
Filmed in 1946, released in 1947, this is one of the first Films Noirs to get to grips with urgent contemporary issues; famously the issue of racism but also the situation of soldiers discharged from the army and having no role and no future, of no-hope girls who would have worked in munitions and other factories in the war, but now have no option but the Dance Hall.

There is no doubt that this is a proper film noir, from the urgent opening, a beating-up (to death) filmed off-kilter in shadow, the table lamp in the foreground, everything else off-frame. From then on, the hunt for the killer of the Jewish Samuels unfolds at a comparatively leisurely, reflective pace, but exposing the corruption and emptiness of everyone's lives on the way, in a script that crackles with wit and glows with good sense (based on a novel by Richard Brooks, who went on to be a pretty good director himself). One notable aspect of the script is its silences; pauses for reflection, but also pauses to see which way the cat will jump. The final sting, filmed against the staircase (how Noir loves its staircases!), is most effective.

Edward Dmytryk was one of the Hollywood Ten, left-wing writers and directors whose careers were blighted by Joseph McCarthy's House of Unamerican Activities Committee and its communist witch-hunt. Shortly after this film he went to prison for several months rather than grass on fellow-leftists. Later he changed his mind, and his friends never forgave him; but who can say they would be any braver than he was?

Dmytryk's left leanings are at the core of the movie, and racism is not only the theme, but the key to solving the murder: who would kill someone they didn't know? The script has a powerful exposition of the way anti-Semitism works, by increments: "This business of hating Jews comes in a lot of different sizes. There's the 'you can't join this club' kind, and the 'you can't do this job' kind, and so we end up with [the killer's] kind." And it says, Jews today, then maybe catholics, then people from Tennessee.

The last may be a bit absurd, but it's a shrewd enough questioning of the way we judge people by accents, clothes etc, and the damage it does. The elephant in the corner, of course, is black people. The army had started to integrate GIs, and now here all these black soldiers were coming home, many of them war heroes, and going back to a society which showed everything from mild prejudice to outright racism. This is never mentioned, and some might see this as a weakness. But the truth is that a movie which went down that road explicitly in 1947 could never have played in the South, and so would never have got made. However, I don't think anyone seeing "Crossfire" in 1947 would have had any doubt at all about what it was getting at.

Of the performers, Robert Ryan as the phobic Monty is wonderful, all twitchy, false bonhomie and pinpoint blazing eyes. Apparently he found the role really difficult, given his own pacifist convictions, but it's a remarkable achievement. In particular there is one shot, from below, which is unforgettable. Ryan doesn't do anything, just looks - a lesson in the art of movie acting, where less is more. Gloria Grahame is also wonderful, her pinched pale face and burning hopeful eyes carrying a whole back story without words. Robert Young is - well, Robert Young - but that's a good person to be as the quiet persistent still centre to which all things come.

Only Robert Mitchum disappoints, mainly because his character is underwritten and indeed it's not clear why he's in the movie at all. Maybe he had to be for Dmytryk to get the money to make it, and maybe he wanted to be because he agreed so much with what it said. I like to think so.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir Classic, 8 Feb 2007
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
One of the classic Film Noir from the late 1940s. A Jew is beaten to death in a New York Hotel and Detective Robert Young suspects three soldiers of the murder.

Shot entirely at night, the film oozes style, tension and atmosphere, enhanced with the use of camera techniques by director Edward Dmytrek. Although the film is rather talkie, it does manage to hold the viewers attention throughout. It was also the first film to explore the implications of Racial Bigotry.

Superbly cast with Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and the lovely Gloris Grahame film makers and actors in those days showed what could be achieved on low budgets.

Much of the picture as I have said, is rather dark but clear, although print does show its age in certain scenes. Sound is mono, but alright on a Home Cinema System switched to Normal Stereo Channels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cradle Of Fear., 12 Feb 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
A man by the name of Joseph Samuels is found brutally murdered in his apartment. It would appear that Samuels was visited by a group of drunken soldiers the previous evening, and with one of them seemingly missing, the evidence certainly implicates the missing soldier. But as detective Finlay digs deeper into the case he finds that they could be barking up the wrong tree, and that this crime is dealing with something desperately sad and vile; anti-Semitism.

Crossfire was born out of the novel written by Richard Brooks, adapted by John Paxton and directed by the shrewdly excellent Edward Dmtryk. Crossfire (originaly titled Cradle Of Fear) is a taut and gripping picture that boldly tackles anti-Semitism. Tho the makers were forced to tone down the story from the original source, the novel is about homosexual hatred as opposed to anti-Semitism, what remains, largely due to RKO supremo Dore Schary and producer Adrian Scott, is a sort of creeping unease that drips with noirish style.

The cast features three Bob's; Young, Mitchum and Ryan, with noir darling Gloria Grahame adding the emotional female heart. Tho only third billed, it's Robert Ryan's picture all the way, his portrayal as the bullying, conniving Montgomery is from the top draw and perfectly showcases the talent that he had in abundance. Ryan had good cause to give Montgomery some of is best work for he had served in the Marine's with Richard Brooks himself, both men having discussed the possibility that if the novel was to be made into a film, then Ryan wanted in and to play Montgomery. Thus the genesis of Ryan's career as weasel types was well and truly born!

Gloria Grahame also puts in a wonderful and heartfelt turn, which is all the more remarkable since she was being plagued by her abusive husband at the time, one Stanley Clements. He was known to be violent towards her and his constant presence around the set irked other members of the cast, but Grahame, probably channelling real life emotion, became the character of Ginny and shone very bright indeed. Both Bob Mitchum and Bob Young come out with flying colours as well, to really seal the deal on what proves to be a smartly acted picture.

Tho Crossfire was released before the other 1947 anti-Semitic picture, Gentleman's Agreement, and raking in over a million and a quarter dollars at the box office, some of its thunder was stolen by the Academy Award winning picture from Fox Studio. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Ryan), Best Supporting Actress (Grahame), Best Director and Best Screenplay, it won nothing. But critics of the time hailed it as a brilliant shift in American Cinema, and today it stands tall, proud and dark as a bold and excellent piece of work. 8.5/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dying of the Light, 6 Oct 2010
This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
"Crossfire" (1947) is a classic American noir, far less well-known than "The Big Sleep" or "Double Indemnity", but every bit as good. It was the first 'B' picture to be nominated for Best Film award at the Oscars, losing out to "Gentlemen's Agreement" (which ironically - or perhaps not - dealt, like "Crossfire", with racial bigotry). It was based on the novel "The Brick Foxhole", by Richard Brooks.
Basically, the film is about the social consequences, and physical dangers, of bigotry.
A group of GIs from the same unit return home from WW11 and, while waiting for orders, hang around in bars. One of them accepts an invitation to go home with a man he meets in one of these bars and, once there, beats him to death because he is Jewish. A police officer, Capt. Finlay (Robert Young) investigates the murder, assisted by Sgt. Keeley (Robert Mitchum). Eventually they realise who the murderer is and set out to trap him...
The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk (one of the infamous Senator McCarthy's "Hollywood Ten"), was shot entirely at night to save time and money. This accounts to a great extent for the unusually deep shadow-effects of this film, typical of Noir but especially pronounced here. The cast is outstanding. Robert Mitchum, slit-eyed and gnomic as ever, is the perfect dramatic foil to Robert Young's world-weary but straight-arrow cop, and Gloria Grahame, bless her, is perfect as Ginny, the floosy who picks up the young Corporal Mitchell (George Cooper). Perhaps most outstanding is Robert Ryan as the platoon sergeant. His animus practically blisters off the screen and has the power to intimidate even after all this time (much as Robert Mitchum did later as the villains of "Night of the Hunter" and "Cape Fear").

But what makes this film really stand out is the surreal turn by Paul Kelly as the putative husband of Ginny.

Young corporal Mitchell goes on the lam after initially being fingered for the murder and, getting picked up by Ginny, holes up in her apartment. He falls asleep on her bed while she goes out, and is woken by the entrance of a man claiming to be Ginny's husband, which naturally frightens the bejesus out of the young corporal. Then the man announces that he isn't her husband after all, but merely a friend and admirer who couldn't get into the army because he is in danger of dropping dead any minute from a heart condition. Not long after that he claims to be someone else again, following each impersonation with the question "D'you believe that? Nah... I made it all up". This wonderfully loopy character (we never do find out who he really is) puts the icing on the cake of an already great film, and puts it apart from all other fims, not just Noirs. I for one have never seen anything like it in any other film. Even if you don't like the rest of the film it's worth seeing for this passage alone.

Richard Brooks, the author of the original novel, was infuriated that the studio turned the murder victim into a Jew (in the book he was a homosexual). But his criticisms were redundant - the Hays office wouldn't permit any reference to homosexuality at this time, and in any case Bigotry is Bigotry, whether it's aimed at colour, shoe-size, fashion-sense, race or sexual orientation. Even if the character was portrayed as homosexual instead of Jewish, it wouldn't have made any difference either way to the impact of the film.
If you like Noir and haven't seen this one, treat yourself. You'll love it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good watch with a gratifying end, 8 May 2004
This review is from: Crossfire [VHS] (VHS Tape)
World War II is over and the soldiers are returning home. However home as a source of comfort has been abandoned. They have returned to a dark, shady, and even seedy reality, an element of the film that is masterfully illustrated through its use of cinematography and mise en scene. America's colour has drained away as we watch the story unravel in black and white. It is for this reason, as well as the murder mystery storyline, that the film is classed as being a Film Noir.
A man is sitting in a bar having a drink when he strikes up a conversation with the soldiers next to him. He soon invites them back to his house for a nightcap. Upon arriving at his home the man is killed. Why? Because he is Jewish. An investigation into his death ensues. The 3 soldiers he invited back are obviously the chief suspects. Enter Captain Finlay (played by Robert Young) to investigate. However of the 3 suspects only 1 is guilty and Finlay mistakenly fingers the wrong guy. Enter Sergeant Kelley (played by Robert Mitchum) to clear his friend's name and help Finlay find the real culprit.
The anti-Semitic issues tackled in this film are what gives it a strong place in film history. Previously to this anti-Semitism was a taboo subject and could therefore not be shown on film. Another reason for its importance lies in the fact it was one of the first Social Problem films. By speaking out about anti-Semitism the director Edward Dmytryk (one of the original blacklisted Hollywood ten) is at the same time commenting on America's bleak post-war mentality.
At the time of its release the film was controversial but gradually became a hit. It was nominated for the best picture Oscar but unfortunately lost out to Gentlemen's Agreement. It is a great Film Noir that has the most gratifying ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dmytryk’s Thoughtful (And Brilliant) Noir, 13 Jun 2014
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Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
The fact that this 1947 film was designated by RKO Head of Production, Dore Schary, as B-movie material (20 day shoot and $250K budget) – something that director Edward Dmytryk was happy to go along with – merely makes it all the more remarkable that, with its strong anti-fascist message, sterling acting performances and tight (and deeply cynical) script, Crossfire turned out to be an outstanding example of the film noir genre. Indeed, although the Hollywood production code dictated that Schary had to change screenwriter John Paxton’s script (based originally on Richard Brooks’ controversial novel, The Brick Foxhole) such that its anti-homosexual tale became an anti-Semitic one, Dmytryk’s film remains one of the most compelling dissections of blind, irrational hatred (fascism, even – and thence maybe anti-Communism, even) to ever reach the big screen.

Two particularly striking things about Crossfire are the film’s intimate, claustrophobic and exaggeratedly dimly-lit (courtesy of cinematographer J Roy Hunt) settings (we literally never see anything resembling the light of day!) and its character- (there are at least 10 intriguing and well-drawn characters here) and vignette-driven plot (I lost count of the number of interesting two-hander scenes there are) – indeed, the film’s lack of 'action’ might turn some people off, but, for me, its 82-minute duration is totally engaging with hardly a second of 'flab’. As to plot, it could hardly be simpler – Robert Ryan’s (not so) 'crypto-fascist’ Montgomery murders a Jew he (and fellow ex-army colleagues) happen upon in a bar, then tries to incriminate insecure fellow soldier George Cooper’s Mitchell, whilst Robert Young’s suave detective Finlay attempts to uncover the truth, and Robert Mitchum’s ambivalent Sergeant Keeley consoles Mitchell. However, Paxton’s screenplay creates numerous intriguing back-stories and subsidiary characters, making Crossfire something of an ensemble piece.

Acting-wise, there is not a weak point. Ryan (probably) steals the show as the festering, duplicitous, manipulative and increasingly sadistic Montgomery (Hunt gets some superb close-ups of the man’s glowering stares), whilst the other two Roberts are both impressive – Young as the disillusioned, pipe-smoking senior cop and Mitchum as the 'father confessor’ to Mitchell, articulate, confident with an underlying streak of the philosopher ('The snakes are loose. Anybody can get them. I get them myself. But they’re friends of mine.’) – much like the real-life Mitchum, in fact. Similarly, elsewhere everyone shines – Cooper as the 'broken man’ accused, Sam Levene as the Jew with an artistic bent, Samuels, Gloria Grahame, again brilliant as the cynical 'working girl’, Ginny, that Mitchell meets in a bar ('What do you want from me – a character reference?’), William Phipps as the cowering Leroy and even Paul Kelly as Ginny’s mysterious, anonymous 'partner’.

In fact, as well as Crossfire’s more obvious line around democracy and values of 'live and let live’, there are (via Samuels’ dialogue, in particular) messages around the US’ post-WW2 'political malaise’ of embryonic confusion, cynicism and paranoia (perhaps manifesting itself in Montgomery’s individual traits). Whatever, Dmytryk’s film remains one of the most thoughtful and innovative noirs which, together with its more traditional (and brilliant) tension-build and dramatic climax, makes it one of the genre’s finest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Robert Mitchum, solid performance, 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
Another classic Robert Mitchum with strong performances from Robert Ryan, Robert Young.
Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. A good story, a film that I enjoy watching over again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Three Bobs, 9 Feb 2014
This review is from: Crossfire [DVD] (DVD)
It's a very earnest film and there is a passage near the end where it does get to the edge of preachiness. Obviously if you are going to preach about anything, then there isn't much more important than thoughtless racism, but perhaps we could have worked that out for ourselves, but given the time it's perfectly understandable. It's a drama, not a noir and watchable especially for Mitchum's fairly laconic and ironic Sergeant and Ryan's vicious thug. He was certainly a great actor. Dmytryk's direction is efficient, the camera moves in with slow emphases. It's a worthy and enlightened. Gloria Grahame's "husband" (Paul Kelly) is like an aged Dan Duryea - a curious rather sad diversion in the film. This edition is a bit scratchy in quality at times.
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Crossfire [DVD]
Crossfire [DVD] by Edward Dmytryck (DVD - 2007)
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