Friday, September 21, 2012

Crossfire (1947)

This is a short (85 minute), fairly straightforward mystery involving soldiers who may or may not have been involved with the murder of a man they met in a bar on the previous evening.  Robert Mitchum has quite a bit of screen time as the soldier who is friends with the primary suspect, but wants to make sure his pal has time to get his story straight before the police track him down.

It lacks any real suspense, but does include a line I loved.  While interrogating a woman of ill-repute (played by the beautiful Gloria Grahame, best known as Violet in It’s a Wonderful Life) about the whereabouts of one of the soldiers earlier that night, she is very uncooperative and feigning confusion says, “tonight’s a long time ago.”

The best part about this movie is its not-so-subtle statement on Anti-Semitism, an interesting topic considering it was up for best picture against Gentleman’s Agreement.  Here’s a monologue I transcribed that resonates strongly today.  A police officer is explaining how it may now be Jews, but it used to be the Irish who bore the brunt of racism and discrimination and tomorrow it will someone else.  He is talking about his Irish grandfather:

“He thought of himself as just another man living in America… Fear and hatred of all Irish Catholics had developed and spread like a terrible disease.  He saw that he wasn’t an American anymore.  He was a dirty Irish Mick.  A priest lover.  A spy from Rome.  A foreigner trying to rob men of jobs.  He didn’t understand.”

The officer then tells how his father was attacked and killed in a bar the night after helping defend his local parish priest who was being attacked in the street and finishes by saying, “Hating is always the same.  Always senseless.  One day it kill Irish Catholics, the next day Jews.  The next day Protestants.  The next day Quakers.  It’s hard to stop.”

Indeed it is.

50 to go…

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