Hard to Hate
When a Jewish man is beaten to death in his room Homicide Capt. Finlay (Robert Young) is called in to head up the investigation and quickly narrows things down to three soldiers who the man had been with in the bar just beforehand. Finlay is not the only one investigating the case as Sgt. Keely (Robert Mitchum - Till the End of Time) fears for his men especially Montgomery (Robert Ryan - Trail Street) who had been in the room the night of the murder may go down for the murder and so works with Finlay to solve the case. But they soon realise that what they are dealing with is a hate crime.
From a pure entertainment point of view "Crossfire" works with director Edward Dmytryk employing a noir look which adds atmosphere. He also employs a strong cast including the three Roberts; Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan all of which handle the script in a solid way. Each are in control of their dialogue and character, never over acting and just allowing the story to capture the audience's attention. And that story combined with noir styling is a reasonable mystery, not too hard to jump to a conclusion as to who committed the murder but intriguing enough to keep you interested. It is simply a solid 1940's drama which also benefits from the likes of Gloria Grahame and Paul Kelly whilst effectively using flashbacks from different people to tell what happened.
But the truth is that "Crossfire" is more interesting in a historical relevance sort of way as it was one of the first movies to focus on a hate crime and an anti-Semitic crime at that. What is more interesting is that Richard Brooks original book "The Brick Foxhole" which inspired the movie was about a murder of a gay man by GIs. It is this which makes "Crossfire" a much more interesting movie than it is.
Now in fairness I should mention for those who have never read any of my movie reviews before is that I don't go wild for film-noir and not only because the term seems to get chucked at any crime story in black and white. As such whilst "Crossfire" was good with a decent storyline and performances the noir styling didn't blow me away as much as it would for those who love film-noir.
What this all boils down to is that "Crossfire" is firstly an entertaining crime drama and one which is interesting because of its subject matter. But it is a movie which will most likely impress film-noir fans more than general movie fans.