Years of police work have taught Detective Finlay that where there's crime, there's motive. But he finds no usual motive when investigating the beating death of a man. The man was killed because he was a Jew. "Hate," Finlay says, "is like a gun."
Robert Young portrays Finlay, Robert Mitchum is a laconic army sergeant assisting in the investigation of G.I. suspects and Robert Ryan plays a vicious bigot in a landmark film noir nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Edward Dmytryk (Murder, My Sweet) directs, draping the genre's stylistic backdrops and flourishes around a topic rarely before explored in films: anti-Semitism in the U.S. Here, Hollywood took aim at injustice...and caught bigotry in a Crossfire.
This unusual and worthwhile black-and-white film noir was one of the first movies to deal with issues of anti-Semitism. A weary Washington detective (Robert Young) must get to the bottom of a seemingly motive-lacking murder, with the prime suspect a boozy soldier who can only vaguely recall the events of the night. The story really digs its heels into lots of postwar issues--how soldiers need a place to put all their violence once the war is over and the other problems of readjusting to civilian life. Robert Mitchum stars as a friend of the accused soldier who helps the detective solve the case.
Edward Dmytryk had already established himself as a fine noir director with MURDER, MY SWEET, made a few years earlier. Here he takes the shadowy, midnight world of desperate people and seedy dives and slyly turns it into a vehicle for the exploration of bigotry. The result is a quietly stunning, low-key classic. Young is especially good as the detective and gets ample help from Mitchum and Robert Ryan in this well-written, atmospheric drama.
CROSSFIRE is a rare 1940s indictment of anti-Semitism and bigotry. The theme is wrapped around a murder case with Robert Ryan as the hateful murderer.