Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Crossfire (1947)

CROSSFIRE is an engrossing murder mystery told in classic film noir style, with dark rooms, shadows on the walls, and damp night streets. Detective Finley (Robert Young) investigates the murder of a businessman in Washington, D.C. Among the suspects are a pair of soldiers, played by Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan.

Young is quite effective as the pipe-smoking detective, and frequent film noir stars Mitchum and Ryan do their usual fine work. CROSSFIRE was nominated for five Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Robert Ryan), and Supporting Actress (Gloria Grahame, playing a floozy who is a possible alibi witness). The movie runs 86 minutes and was filmed in black and white.

Robert Ryan is someone whose work I've come to greatly appreciate over the last year or so. Although a look at his credits shows that he acted in a significant number of classics over his 30-year career, he never quite hit the top level of stardom -- perhaps because he wasn't particularly interested in publicity and being a "movie star." A Dartmouth graduate, he pursued a number of interests outside film including founding various theater groups. Perhaps most intriguingly, he and his wife, who were dissatisfied with L.A. public schools, cofounded a private school in their home. Oakwood School continues to operate today, over half a century after its founding.

ROBERT RYAN: A BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICAL FILMOGRAPHY by Franklin Jarlett is a book I look forward to reading in future.

CROSSFIRE is available on VHS. The tape also contains a short documentary about the making of the film, in which the director, Edward Dmytryk, explains how the film acquired its distinctive shadowy visual style. (According to Dmytryk, the film's dark look was the direct result of a small budget, not artistic design.)

CROSSFIRE is also available on DVD, either as a single-title release or as part of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2.

The movie can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be viewed here.

2 Comments:

Blogger Irene said...

That's an interesting poster/cover for the movie. Reminds me of a cover for the pulp fiction type novels from that era and into the 50's. This one is available at the library in both DVD and VHS. I haven't requested it yet. Still waiting for June Bride. I have always liked Robert Young but I have never been a fan of this genre so I might pass on this one.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Irene! You're right, that is a very "pulpy" movie poster. :)

In years past I wasn't much of a fan of the noir genre either -- too "dark" for me. But as I've tried more and more films in this genre, thanks in part to learning more about it from my dad, I'm increasingly becoming a fan. Some of my favorite "new to me" viewing in the last year consisted of noir films like FALLEN ANGEL, PANIC IN THE STREETS, THE RACKET, and THE BLUE DAHLIA. I've really been enjoying actors like Andrews, Widmark, Ryan, and Mitchum. I encourage you to check out the genre a little more in future and see if perhaps, as I have, you find it any more interesting.

Let me know what you think of JUNE BRIDE when you get it. Happy viewing! :)

Best wishes, Laura

12:38 PM  

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