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Crossfire

Robert Young , Robert Mitchum , Edward Dmytryk    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 26.31
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Crossfire was nominated for the 1947 Best Picture Oscar won by Gentleman's Agreement. Gentlemen may propose, if not agree, that Crossfire was better. Like its upscale rival, the film noir raises the specter of anti-Semitism in America: just after World War II, an affable Jew (Sam Levene) is beaten to death by one of several GIs out "crawling." Solving the crime takes all night, but for the audience the killer's identity is scarcely in doubt; Robert Ryan's chilling study in psychopathic bigotry scored him his lone Oscar nomination. He's nearly matched in creepiness by Paul Kelly as an odd nightbird married to sultry Gloria Grahame. Two other worthy Roberts--Young and Mitchum--respectively play the police detective and the Army sergeant wondering which of his guys is a murderer. Incidentally, the hot button in the Richard Brooks novel was not anti-Semitism but homophobia--a sweaty subtext in Edward Dmytryk's film. --Richard T. Jameson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rising above the level of a B Movie July 17 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I had been looking forward to seeing "Crossfire" for a number of years; it never seemed to be available on any of the channels I had access to. I finally got my wish and I was duly impressed. This is a very good movie that tells the story of what hate can do if left unchallenged. It is, thus, a message that is timeless in its' relevance. However, as I understand it, the screenplay altered the book ("The Brick Foxhole" by Richard Brooks) because the subject matter was ahead of its' time. In the book, the murderous anger is directed against homosexuals which would, to me, make for a more effective movie than the one that was presented. That comment aside, the elements of fear, prejudice, anger and superstition are all woven well together along with some very good acting. Robert Ryan is the dominant character both on the screen and in the plot. Playing almost an opposite personality is the low-key, almost bored, yet quite efficient policeman played by Robert Young. In between those two extremes is the role played by Robert Mitchum. This was from the era when Mitchum seemed at his peak in acting abilities and his role in "Crossfire" underscores his strength on the screen. The other roles are played with varying abilities. The transformation of the Ryan character from bully to desperate was very well done. There is a very small but interesting twist to the plot that caught me off-guard and helped me understand how the perpetrator was to be brought to justice. This is one of those film noir movies that shows the darker side of humanity. Its' message works very well thanks to good acting, directing, writing, and camera work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redefining the Enemy April 21 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Unlike most film noir, Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire, adapted from a novel by Richard Brooks, is not nearly as concerned with its murder mystery, which, at first sight, might seem superficially formulaic to the casual viewer, as it is with the complex motives of its characters and the oppressive ambience of its accurately rendered post-WWII setting, evoking feelings of disorientation, loneliness and entrapment. Under its classic noir exterior, it is about hardened and aloof veterans' struggle with postwar reintegration, utterly unable or unwilling to put their traumatic experiences behind them, and about their desperate attempt to redefine their goals. For those who define themselves by who their enemies are, such as hateful loner Montgomery (the brilliant Robert Ryan), this necessitates establishing a new one, a role filled here by Jewish intellectual Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene), who becomes the regrettable victim of a senseless hate crime.
At first the film appears to simply be going through the motions: After the ambiguously shot opening murder scene all evidence points, for reasons I cannot presently remember, to Corporal Arthur Mitchell (George Cooper). Captain Finley (Robert Young) investigates and is soon joined by the idealistic Sergeant Peter Keeley (Robert Mitchum), who is certain of Mitchell's innocence. Two minor military characters, Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) and Bill Williams (Richard Benedict) are also somehow involved. Monty murders the former, while the latter, after a stern, Hugh Beaumontesque talking-to, reluctantly aids Finley and Keeley in setting a trap for the dastardly ne'er-do-well. Or perhaps it was the other way around -- I watch so many movies that Bowers and Williams might as well have been stranded in the South Seas and mistaken for Gods by the natives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post war anti - Semitism Feb. 9 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Edward Dmytryk's "Crossfire" was a powerful and seminal treatise dealing with anti-Semitism in post- WWII America. He broached an issue previously tabooed in films which was on the minds of many in the U.S. in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Washington D.C. is teaming with servicemen who fought in the war but are presently idle with spare time on their hands. Inactivity leads to tragedy as a group of three inebriated soldiers are involved in the savage beating death of a man who turns out to be Jewish. The leader of the group is Robert Ryan, in an Oscar nominated performance, playing Montgomery a bigoted loathing, hateful man unable to control his emotions. He bullies his other two cohorts into silence. George Cooper, one of the two other soldiers, is a naive timid man who longs for his wife. He had been so tipsy that he doesn't have any recollection of the crime, so Ryan tries to implicate him. He quiets the third soldier by killing him and making it look like suicide.
Robert Young playing the coy and placid police captain Finlay, who had been exposed to Irish bigotry, is assigned to investigate the case. With the help of U.S. Army sergeant Robert Mitchum they uncover enough evidence to suspect Ryan, but have no motive. Young decoys Ryan and tricks him into revealing his deep seated violent feelings of anti-Semitism which soon incriminate him.
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Format:VHS Tape
Landing one of the lead roles in RKO's low-budget gem, Crossfire placed Robert Ryan at the forefront of the studio's exciting new stars. Although the actor's intensity had been tapped in two earlier films, Marine Raiders and The Woman on the Beach, Crossfire was pivotal in terms of future roles that would come his way.
Several brillant, controversial minds came together on Crossfire, in the persons of producer Adrian Scott, director Edward Dmytryk, screenwriter John Paxton, and executive producer Dore Schary. As a penetrating example of the film noir genre, the thematic elements of alienation, isolation and loneliness received a grand treatment in Crossfire, as all of its characters are depicted in a state of flux, in limbo. Soldiers and civilians alike are portrayed as tired, bored, frustrated souls, trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, victims of the emotional turmoil of World War II. All are searching, waiting for something to happen, and as depicted by the professionals from RKO, the performances are superb. The choice of the three leads in Crossfire was a stroke of genius, validating Schary's sagacity in casting and in public relations. In accepting the unsympathetic role of the sadistic bigot, Montgomery, Ryan took a big risk in career terms, since a failure of the movie might have short-circuited his advancement.
He always viewed his role in Crossfire as a mixed blessing, and believed it contributed to his being typecast as a perennial heavy. Although today Ryan is often remembered for that part alone, in a larger sense it served him well, since from his Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1947, he became a major contender for stardom. Moreover, it was a statement, albeit inadvertent, of his and everyone else's conflicts and ambivalences as human beings.
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