Crossfire [1947]

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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