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Crossfire (1947) is a film noir drama film which deals with the theme of anti-Semitism, as did that year's Academy Award for Best Picture winner, Gentleman's Agreement. The film was directed by Edward Dmytryk and the screenplay was written by John Paxton, based on the novel The Brick Foxhole by screenwriter and director Richard Brooks. The film features Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame. It received five Academy Award nominations, including Ryan for Best Supporting Actor and Gloria Grahame for Best Supporting Actress.


A man (Sam Levene) is killed by a drunken, recently demobilized American soldier (Robert Ryan) simply because he is Jewish. The film also addresses the post-World War II issue of soldiers being released from the military with no training other than as soldiers.


Critical reception

When first released, the staff at Variety magazine gave the film a positive review, writing, "Crossfire is a frank spotlight on anti-Semitism. Producer Dore Schary, in association with Adrian Scott, has pulled no punches. There is no skirting such relative fol-de-rol as intermarriage or clubs that exclude Jews. Here is a hard-hitting film [based on Richard Brooks' novel, The Brick Foxhole] whose whodunit aspects are fundamentally incidental to the overall thesis of bigotry and race prejudice...Director Edward Dmytryk has drawn gripping portraitures. The flashback technique is effective as it shades and colors the sundry attitudes of the heavy, as seen or recalled by the rest of the cast."

New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther lauded the acting in the drama, and wrote, "Mr. Dmytryk has handled most excellently a superlative cast which plays the drama. Robert Ryan is frighteningly real as the hard, sinewy, loud-mouthed, intolerant and vicious murderer, and Robert Mitchum, Steve Brodie and George Cooper are variously revealing as his pals. Robert Young gives a fine taut performance as the patiently questing D. A., whose mind and sensibilities are revolted—and eloquently expressed—by what he finds. Sam Levene is affectingly gentle in his brief bit as the Jewish victim, and Gloria Grahame is believably brazen and pathetic as a girl of the streets."

Critic Dennis Schwartz questioned the noir aspects of the film and discussed the cinematography in his review. He wrote, "This is more of a message film than a noir thriller, but has been classified by most cinephiles in the noir category...J. Roy Hunt, the 70-year-old cinematographer, who goes back to the earliest days of Hollywood, shot the film using the style of low-key lighting, providing dark shots of Monty, contrasted with ghost-like shots of Mary Mitchell (Jacqueline) as she angelically goes to help her troubled husband Arthur."

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 85% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on thirteen reviews."

Difference from the novel

In the novel, the victim was homosexual. As told in the film The Celluloid Closet and in the documentary included on the DVD edition of the Crossfire film, the Hollywood Hays Code prohibited any mention of homosexuality because it was seen as a sexual perversion. Hence, the book's theme of homophobia was changed to one about racism and antisemitism.


  • Cannes Film Festivalmarker: Award, Best Social Film (Prix du meilleur film social); 1947.
  • Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Edgar; Best Motion Picture, John Paxton (screenwriter), Richard Brooks (author), Dore Schary (producer), Adrian Scott associate producer) and Edward Dmytryk (director); 1948.

Nominations, 1947 Academy Awards

Other nominations


External links

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