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With: Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame, Paul Kelly, Sam Levene
Written by: John Paxton
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 85
Date: 07/22/1947

Crossfire (1947)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Message Noir

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire was the only 1940s-era film noir to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and the reason is clear. Not because it's better than any other noir, but because it has a very strong and powerful message against anti-Semitism.

In post-WWII America, a group of lonely, angry and confused soldiers go out for a night on the town, and a Jewish man winds up dead. Bigoted soldier Robert Ryan allows the blame to be redirected toward another soldier too drunk to remember where he was, and his fate rests entirely in the hands of a dance hall girl (the great Gloria Grahame). Robert Mitchum co-stars as a sergeant trying to set the record straight, but Robert Young steals the show as Detective Finlay, who solves the crime with an interior thoughtfulness.

Excellent performances and superb direction make this a classic, even if John Paxton's screenplay pushes the "preachy" buttons a bit much. Ironically,another movie with the same message, Gentleman's Agreement, won the Oscar the same year.

Crossfire is part of Warner Home Video's new Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2 (also including Clash by Night, The Narrow Margin, Dillinger, Point Blank and Born to Kill). Film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini provide a commentary track. Other extras include a featurette ("Crossfire: Hate Is Like a Gun") and optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.

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