RKO's "Out Of The Past" (1947) is regarded by many as the finest Noir ever to come out of Hollywood. But CROSSFIRE, made just prior to it the same year, was a fair contender for that coveted title. Produced by Adrain Scott for RKO, the recognized home of Noir, it was magically photographed in beautifully defined black and white by J.Roy Hunt. Written for the screen by John Paxton from a novel by Richard Brooks it was stylishly directed by Edward Dmytryk and was fleshed out with an imaginative cast headed by the three Roberts - Young, Mitchum and Ryan plus Gloria Grahame, Sam Levene and Paul Kelly.
A Jew (Levene) is murdered in a hotel room by anti-Semitic GI Montgomery (Robert Ryan) leading to pipe smoking detective Robert Young investigating three soldiers who are suspects. Interestingly, in the original novel it is a homosexual that is murdered, but in 1947 homosexuality was very much a taboo subject to put on the screen so the murder victim was changed to be Jewish. The change had little effect on the story's impact for it is still a dynamic and potent drama.
CROSSFIRE is not only a fascinating well produced motion picture but it also has a fascinating look to it. Taking place entirely at night the deserted dark wet streets, filmed with a bug-eyed lens, together with the shadow filled interiors make for some of the most startling and vibrantly shot sequences ever seen in pictures. Also, though it is sparsely scored by RKO's resident Noir composer Roy Webb there is a thundering and punchy Main Title and a reflective love theme. Webb must have been saving himself for his masterpiece "Out Of The Past" which would come later that year. Also heard in the night club scenes in CROSSFIRE is the great New Orleans trombonist Kid Ory (1886/1973) And His Creole Jazz Band (uncredited) playing some wonderful jazz numbers. And later in Grahame's apartment Ory can be heard again on the radio playing the marvellous Jelly Roll Morton composition "Whinin' Boy Blues" which lends a persuasive atmosphere to the drab surroundings.
Performances are generally good! Robert Young is excellent in what is probably his best remembered role as the detective. But disappointing and wasted is Robert Mitchum! He doesn't really have very much to do in what amounts to nothing more than being cast in a sombre and subdued role. The acting honours however must go to Robert Ryan's blistering performance as Montgomery the violent Jew hating GI. His sneaky and scary portrayal deservedly earned him an Acadamy Award nomination. Also effective is Sam Levene as Samuels the ill-fated Jew and Gloria Grahame as the girl in the night club who picks up the naive George Cooper. And watch out too for a young Lex Barker in one of his first film appearances.
Not as good as the magnificent "Out Of The Past" that came later that year but still an engrossing and tight little thriller from that once great RKO studio in Hollywood who produced exceptional movies that we can never forget and which now, sadly, Hollywood itself seems to have forgotten.
Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Mystery
Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Mystery
Homicide Capt. Finlay finds evidence that one or more of a group of demobilized soldiers is involved in the death of Joseph Samuels. In flashbacks, we see the night's events from different viewpoints as army Sgt. Keeley investigates on his own, trying to clear Mitchell, to whom circumstantial evidence points. Then the real, ugly motive for the killing begins to dawn on both Finlay and Keeley.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 27, 2021 at 11:56 PM