Crossfire

Crossfire

Director: Edward Dmytryk, Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan

Cast: Edward Dmytryk, Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan

     
 

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This drama was one of the first major-studio efforts to confront anti-semitism (beating the Oscar-winning Gentleman's Agreement by several months), and it features a standout performance from Robert Ryan as a bigoted soldier on the run. Monty Montogomery (Ryan) is a violent and unstable soldier

Overview

This drama was one of the first major-studio efforts to confront anti-semitism (beating the Oscar-winning Gentleman's Agreement by several months), and it features a standout performance from Robert Ryan as a bigoted soldier on the run. Monty Montogomery (Ryan) is a violent and unstable soldier who, while out on a pass, goes on a drinking spree with three buddies, Floyd (Steve Brodie), Arthur (George A. Cooper), and Leroy (William Phipps). While boozing it up in a tavern, the four men meet Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene) and his girlfriend Ginny (Gloria Grahame), who invite the soldiers back to their apartment for a party. Monty, however, has a fierce hatred of Jews, and he later goes into a drunken rage in which he beats Joseph to death. Monty's friends can barely remember the incident through their liquor-shrouded memories, but they recall just enough to make themselves scarce when police detective Capt. Finlay (Robert Young) begins making the rounds looking for information on Joseph's murder. Sgt. Kelly (Robert Mitchum), a soldier who knows the four men, begins to suspect that something is up, and he works with Finlay and Ginny to help ferret out the killer in his ranks, while Monty kills Floyd when he becomes convinced that he's going to talk to the authorities. While director Edward Dmytryk showed real bravery in bringing this story to the screen, it had greater repercussions than he might have expected; the film's controversial themes led to Dmytryk's denunciation by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy-era investigations of the 1950s; luckily, unlike other filmmakers who suffered similar accusations by HUAC, Dmytryk continued to work steadily through the '50s and '60s.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Edward Dmytryk's classic noir on anti-Semitism in the military was adapted from a Richard Brooks novel, The Brick Foxhole, whose actual subject was homophobia in the army, which RKO found too hot to handle at the time. Like many noirs, it's steeped in the malaise of returning GIs, still recovering from the trauma of war and trying to adapt to a changed world. Dmytryk evokes a miasma of angst with the noir vocabulary of looming shadows, oblique angles, and low-key lighting. Robert Young's professorial detective leads the investigation, which takes on a collective quality as Robert Mitchum's sergeant becomes involved, the film counterpointing their quiet sanity against the disorientation of the mustered-out soldiers and the raging paranoia of the murderer. Robert Ryan is most impressive as the latter, a matrix of festering resentments of which his anti-Semitism is only one. The residue of the original story remains in a slightly off-kilter scene, apparently detached from the narrative, in which a GI (George Cooper) discusses his alienation with a sympathetic stranger (Sam Levene). The first film to address the subject of anti-Semitism, it remains effective despite moments of preachiness. Test screenings of the film for Jewish audiences revealed their well-grounded concern that the association of such blatant pathology, as the murderer's with anti-Semitism, would allow viewers to ignore the far more commonplace and insidious forms of that prejudice. Due to the film's content, in October 1947, producer Adrian Scott and director Dmytryk were called to testify before HUAC and became the first two members of the famed Hollywood Ten, a group of producers, directors, and writers, including Ring Lardner Jr. and Dalton Trumbo, all of whom initially refused to testify against their colleagues, and were sentenced to prison terms. In return for an early release in 1950, Dmytryk identified former colleagues as Communists, and in 1951, named Scott, his friend, and the producer of his three best films, as a member of the Communist party. Scott never produced another film, while Dmytryk resumed his career, never to repeat the quality of his earlier work.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/25/2014
UPC:
0888574096243
Original Release:
1947
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Time:
1:25:00
Sales rank:
25,272

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Young Capt. Finlay
Robert Mitchum Sgt. Peter Kelley
Robert Ryan Monty Montgomery
Gloria Grahame Ginny Tremaine
Paul Kelly The Man
Sam Levene Joseph Samuels
Jacqueline White Mary Mitchell
Steve Brodie Floyd Bowers
Richard Benedict Bill Williams
William Phipps Leroy
Lex Barker Harry
Marlo Dwyer Miss Lewis
Kenneth MacDonald Major
Richard Powers Detective
Don Cadell Military Police
Bill Nind Waiter
George A. Cooper Arthur Mitchell
Carl Faulkner Deputy
Jay Norris M.P.
Robert Bray M.P.
George Turner M.P.
Allan Ray Soldier
George Meader Police Surgeon
Philip Morris Police Sergeant
Tom Keene Detective Dick
Harry Harvey Tenant

Technical Credits
Edward Dmytryk Director
Constantin Bakaleinikoff Musical Direction/Supervision
Gordon Bau Makeup
Russell A. Cully Special Effects
Albert S. D'Agostino Art Director
Harry Gerstad Editor
Alfred Herman Art Director
Roy Hunt Cinematographer
John Paxton Screenwriter
Clem Portman Sound/Sound Designer
Dore Schary Executive Producer
Adrian Scott Producer
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
John Sturtevant Set Decoration/Design
John E. Tribby Sound/Sound Designer
Roy Webb Score Composer

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