Crossfire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Crossfire Reviews

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December 1, 2016
Often movies with messages and grand soliloquies or pronouncements don't work because they seem overly theatrical or contrived. But sometimes they do work, and and the artistic effort gets translated - through the famous "willing suspension of disbelief" by we the viewers - into great entertainment with a message; think Frank Capra. That's what we've got here with Crossfire, except the message is delivered through a film noir crime drama. With three great performances by Young, Mitchum and Ryan, a clever story, great lighting and scene set-up, Dmytryk has delivered a engrossing story and a great, timeless message. The one real weakness of this film, poor transitions between scenes, is a minor flaw in an otherwise fine film.
August 4, 2016
Message pictures have never much been my forte - preachiness sometimes overcomes cinematic riskiness - but there's no denying the power of Edward Dmytryk's "Crossfire," a low-budgeter so socially stirring in 1947 that its shoe string origins hardly mattered to audiences upon release. It amassed a huge sum of money at the American box office and was nominated for five Academy Awards, one being for Best Picture, which had not yet accomplished by a B-movie up until that point.
Considering its fearless backhanding of racial prejudice in modern society at the time, its cultural wave-making is no surprise. Prominently putting a spotlight on anti-Semitism and overtly expressing the needlessness, the ugliness, of hatred, it grabs ahold of us both intellectually and emotionally, a rarity for a 1940s that preferred movies without much on the mind (and without much by way of dealing with racism on a silver screen scale).
It was one of two anti anti-Semitism centered movies released that year, the other being Elia Kazan's "Gentlemen's Agreement," which garnered more critical and commercial attention and is widely said to be the superior. But "Crossfire," visually claustrophobic and temperamental, is stimulating nonetheless, even if its dialogue sometimes tends to mimic soapbox heat and even if some of the characters are more mouthpieces for screenwriter John Paxton than they are multifaceted creations.
The film concerns itself with the brutal murder of Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene), a Jewish man last seen hanging around a group of discharged soldiers. Suspicious of the circumstances regarding his demise - he's certain that turned heads and white lies are coating the actual truth - police investigator Finlay (Robert Young) embarks on an intense search for the culprit. As does Sergeant Keeley (Robert Mitchum), the protective friend of a possible suspect (George Cooper). But while they differ in their investigative methods, Finlay and Keeley find themselves increasingly distrustful of Montgomery (a terrifying Robert Ryan), a tyrannical bigot that was with Samuels in the hours leading up to his death.
"Crossfire" mostly fills the mold of an archetypal whodunit, spending a plentiful amount of time staging flashbacks (as a way to three-dimensionalize the stories told in interrogations) and occupying the scenery with skeptical persons of interest (most memorably with potential witness Ginny, who's exceptionally portrayed by Gloria Grahame). It's analogous to the mystery novels of Agatha Christie, only the characters are less eloquent, the investigator isn't an eccentric cartoon, and the murderer is fairly obvious. (And it's more pivoted toward its moral lesson; its enigmas are generally unimportant.)
But I admire its determination to make a statement, which is, fortunately, constructed efficaciously. It's dated, mostly since the topic at hand is not as rampant as it was sixty years, but its anger holds up. And, most interestingly, we feel cohesively transported into 1947, where post-war cynicism, where intolerance, and where the hysterical - and ridiculous - Communist witch-hunt were widespread normalities of society. That sensation is perhaps more engaging than the film itself (which is still pretty damn good).
June 8, 2016
The three 'Robert' leads do fine work here (even if Mitchum doesn't have to do much heavy lifting) for a very solid noir entry.
May 8, 2016
Interesting, but a little contrived.
½ April 9, 2016
She was a tramp when I married her.

A detective is sent in to investigate a murder in a bar. As he interviews the witnesses, it becomes very apparent a group of soldiers are responsible, but why did they do it, what led them to these acts, and was the violence justified?

"Could he have hit his head on the table?"
"With the beating he took, it wouldn't have made a difference one way or the other."

Edward Dmytryk, director of The Young Lions, The Cain Mutiny, He Is My Brother, Bluebeard, Till the End of Time, Mutiny, Secrets of the Lone World, and Behind the Rising Sun, delivers Crossfire. The storyline for this picture is fairly straightforward with some interesting characters and sub plots. The acting is excellent and the cast includes Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Jacqueline White, Steve Brodie, and Tom Keene.

"Soldiers don't have anywhere to go unless you tell them where to go."

I came across this on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and decided to give it a viewing. This was just okay but I enjoyed Mitchum in this film and the way the story of the soldiers unfold. Overall, this is only worth seeing once if you're a fan of classic films.

"He doesn't respect the service he doesn't respect his mother..."

Grade: B-
March 14, 2015
While it's handsomely photographed and it contains a few very well scripted moments, Crossfire is hampered by an unfocused narrative that spoon feeds its audience embarrassingly oversimplified Sunday School messages concerning anti-semitism within the United States very soon after World War II. It's a film that presents an array of interesting ideas, though completely falls flat on every front, lacking the moral complexity of great noir cinema, the intrigue and suspense of great murder mysteries, and despite its overtly preachy third act, it lacks enough substance to even remotely match that of a great sermon.

It centers around the murder investigation of an uncharacterized Jewish man, and immediately squanders nearly two thirds of its duration on a story that leads absolutely nowhere and is arbitrarily dropped the minute one of the main protagonists leaps to a wild conclusion about the true motive of the murder he is investigating, a motive so simple that it requires a villain with a great deal of established psychological complexity in order to remain convincing. Unfortunately though, instead of attempting a compelling character study on the kind of deranged prejudice that can lead an ignorant bigot into senseless violence and murder, Crossfire decides to wrap things up by simply stating "Hating Jews is bad," then closing with one of the most unsatisfying and anti-climactic endings I have experienced in years.
½ October 20, 2014
Robert Ryan became a star in this dark, pessimistic film about a psychotic bigot whose hatred of Jews is terrifying to behold. Robert Mitchum, on his own way to genuine stardom, is also superb, lending the film a quiet authority as a cynical sergeant who helps with a murder investigation. Director Edward Dmytryk's tight shooting schedule helped "Crossfire" beat Elia Kazan's similarly themed "Gentlemen's Agreement" to the theatres. The two films compliment each other perfectly, with the latter exploring 'country club' anti-Semitism, while the former delves into the grittier side of bigotry.
½ October 15, 2014
Crossfire is quite well acted and it is certainly a very important film with great messags, but thanks to forgettable characters, so-so direction and flawed story, it ends up being just a solid film that pales in comparison to endlessly superior masterpiece from the same year and of the same antisemitism subjdct 'Gentleman's Agreement'.
½ August 20, 2014
Film Noir with an anti Semitism message, a great cast and some sure footed direction.
When a Jewish man is found murdered in his home detective Finlay must get to the bottom of a mystery which has a rather unsavoury racial centre.
The suspicion is cast over a group of soldiers who visited the mans flat before he was killed.
One Soldier Mitch is too hung-over to remember what occurred and is the obvious number one suspect.
However Robert Mitchums sergeant feels Mitch is not the main culprit and that the police should be looking at Robert Ryan's bigoted Montgomery.
The film should be applauded for handling a tricky subject and director Edward Dmytryk keeps you guessing until the very end with one or two red herrings along the way.
Robert Young is excellent as the dogged detective and of course Robert Mitchum puts in another top grade performance.
A film noir with as powerful message today as it was in 1947
January 4, 2014
Crossfire is an incredible film. It is about man who is murdered, apparently by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, and Robert Ryan give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. Edward Dmytryk did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama.
December 21, 2013
This post WWII crime film takes on anti-semitism with honesty and enough suspense to keep it interesting. Very well done, and apparently quite controversial in its time. Both Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan are excellent.
½ November 29, 2013
Dmytryk transmutes message movie into stylish postwar thriller--A study of hate crime through the lens of film noir!!
½ August 25, 2013
Superb film noir detective story. Ryan, Mitchum and Young are all excellent. Although it was made to highlight the post war anti-Semitism problems it now stands alone as a great drama.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2013
Another of the great film noirs of the period and also one of the earliest to take on anti-semitism. Roberts Young and Mitchum are tremendous.
July 8, 2013
Classic oldie. A detective story which centers on army buddies recently back from the war - and the possibility that one of them may have brought the callousness of war back with them. Mr. Ryan had actually met the book's author while in the army - and asked to play the bad guy when a studio made the movie. Well played! Recommended for soldiers, or inmates, trying to blend back into society.
½ May 18, 2013
Crossfire is more of a message film with some noir visuals than a true noir, despite this it remains a good film. Ryan's performance is the highlight.
December 23, 2012
It's a bit too on the nose in its anti-racist message. However, it' s quite stunning visually.
September 10, 2012
While remaining a B-grade noir worth seeing, Crossfire is more than just another black-and-white tale about gangsters and the battles that they fight. It's one of the most compelling takes on the problem of anti-semitism in the post-war America. And even though the investigation might sometimes seem a bit childish and uneven, the message that's hidden in the storyline is as fresh as it's been more than 60 years ago.
½ September 2, 2012
Robert Ryan is terrific as Monty in this solid drama. However, the script is too preachy and detracts from the storyline.
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