A Movie A Day: Quint on CROSSFIRE (1947)
Hate is like a loaded gun.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today marks our final Robert Mitchum flick of this run. So sad, but don’t get all frowny on me… I’m sure he’ll pop up again on this list… and we’ll follow one of his kids in tomorrow’s movie. But today we end our Mitchum marathon with 1947’s CROSSFIRE, directed by Edward Dmytryk, who directed past AMAD noir MURDER, MY SWEET and starring Mitchum, Robert Young and Robert Ryan.
And it stands side by side with OUT OF THE PAST for me in this run.
What a dark little tale and what a great, great role for Robert Ryan, who probably has more films on this list than any other person… no, that’s probably Newman, but that’s because of the huge Box Set, but Ryan’s definitely up there and I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors of this period and of the films of his I’ve seen this is probably my favorite of his roles.
He’s essentially a Jew-hating murderer here, but he’s charming and puts on such an innocent face that you almost don’t believe he did it… even when you know he did it!
The main drive of this story is a group of soldiers on leave are involved in the beating murder of a stranger. The police, led by Robert Young, are hunting a young soldier (George Cooper) who was last seen with the dead man. But we come to find out that he was silly drunk and with a group of other people, including Robert Ryan.
Ryan plays innocent in an “Aw shucks, I wish I could help ya’” way and the young solider is MIA, making it look like he’s on the run. Robert Young is looking for the kid because he’s the prime suspect, but he’s not convinced by Ryan’s act, especially when the kid is being vouched for by Robert Mitchum’s Sgt. Peter Keely.
Pretty much the rest of the flick plays as the good guys try to clear the young guy’s name (they start by finding him and trying to find his alibi, a beautiful blonde he semi-picked up) and Ryan tries to erase all trace of his guilt.
The flick deals with hate head on, especially anti-semitism. Young has a great speech where he’s figuring out the motive of Ryan if he is indeed the guilty party. Afterall, what would drive a man to murder another man with his bare hands if there is no money or women involved? Just pure hate. It’s a strong message today and you can tell it must have been shocking back then. In fact, I believe the original novel had the murdered man being a homosexual and that was too much for the time period, so the studio bosses forced them to change the man to Jewish, keeping the motive the same.
Final Thoughts: Robert Ryan steals this film. He’s a villain, but he’s not one note and seeing the play act he puts on to get the cops off his trail is worth popping this movie in by itself. Thankfully the rest of the movie is worth watching, too. Especially look out for a great minor performance from Gloria Grahame as Ginnie, the blonde bombshell/possible alibi. She has a confrontation with the young soldier’s wife that earned her a supporting actress nom. Really fun movie and a complete showcase for how awesome Robert Ryan was.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Sunday, July 27th: RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973)
Monday, July 28th: IN HARM’S WAY (1965)
Tuesday, July 29th: FIRECREEK (1968)
Wednesday, July 30th: THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970)
Thursday, July 31st: THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956)
Friday, August 1st: THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1957)
Saturday, August 2nd: VON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965)
Tomorrow we jump to ‘70s Italian Exploitation flick RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE starring son of Mitchum, Christopher. See you then!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 26, 2008, 12:14 p.m. CST
by Cletus Van Damme
I like this cast a lot.
July 26, 2008, 12:36 p.m. CST
July 26, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST
cuz they really make mitchum look totally gay...look how he is holding the cig, and it looks like he is wearing lipstick
July 26, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST
i guess this is just for your enjoyment at this point quint. seems to garner little interest.
July 26, 2008, 12:58 p.m. CST
you should post a pic of your dvd collection! come on and show us your shit like in joblo! i want to see a dvd collection thats thousands strong. that sounds too good too pass up.
July 26, 2008, 1:02 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
music wise. However, the upcoming Von Ryan's Express is really good. Quint, we love the reviews, but you gotta take it easy. Hasn't it already been 30 days? Stick to one a week.
July 26, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST
What is up with the gay looking Mitchum caricature on the cover?
July 26, 2008, 1:15 p.m. CST
Strong Victor Mature resemblance on both the cover and the poster.
July 26, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST
by Alonzo Mosely
Is just a damn fine little movie... Oh, and why knock Quint for actually doing what no other writer on this site has ever managed, in it's entire history, do a regular series and keep deadlines. You know like writers in the real world do. <p> Besides if he manages to hit a year I am sure he could get himself a book deal out of it - A Movie a Day - AICN's Quint brings you a years worth of movies, each one connected to the last.<p> Yes it's a long title, but it will have glowing quotes from Harry Knowles and Drew McWeeney on the cover...
July 26, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST
just the more recent ones...doing reviews of classic noir is very important...get people interested in the classics so they can really see how shitty movies are today...all spectacle with no soul
July 26, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST
And yep, a year's worth would be both a fine achievement and might well work as a book. Heck, if Vern can write a book, how hard can it be?
July 26, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST
by Raymond Shaw
My favorite part of this movie is the business between Gloria Graham and the guy who might or might not be her husband (Paul Kelley). It doesn't have much to do with the main plot but it adds a nice touch of sleaze to the goings-on. Also, if you haven't seen it "On Dangerous Ground" by Nicholas Ray has another great performance by Robert Ryan -- as a cop. It's a sort of distant cousin to "Insomnia".
July 26, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST
Most male actors today aren't even a fraction as tough as those guys. Von Ryan's Express is also a pretty badass flick and Sinatra's great.
July 26, 2008, 5:31 p.m. CST
well im glad some people get a use out of it (90% though? doubtful). i personally have nothing against it; i just was curious how many movies this would continue for. i think its a waste of time to watch random old movies just for the hell of it, but then again i am the one wasting time commenting on somebody who is writing about watching boring old films everyday.
July 26, 2008, 7:29 p.m. CST
I think this movie gets underrated by noir buffs because it does have an obvious message, but it's absolutely top-notch all the way. As you note, the main reason is Ryan, playing the kind of bigot who just can't imagine that deep down you don't feel the same way; he keeps trying to reach for the place under the surface where you'll find common ground against the enemy, and being surprised he can't locate it. But the atmosphere and the combo of Young and Mitchum is superb too. I would recommend looking for Bad Day at Black Rock, another prejudice tale he turns up in, which is also a very fine film. Anyway, thanks for revisiting some fine films and the yahoos who are proud of their ignorance of films of this era condemn themselves with their own words.
July 27, 2008, 1:04 a.m. CST
by George Newman
watched for film class last spring. Great stuff.
July 27, 2008, 12:14 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
knocking Quint for doing this every day because there are better talkbacks. Au contraire, these are some of the best because of the maturity of the discussions. I love reading these every day. I just don't want Quint to burn himself out, and end this series. If he's up for the task I say go for it, but don't overdo it.
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