Hollywood was emboldened by the war against the Fascist powers to make more socially aware movies. There were two anti-anti-Semitism movies released in 1947: Gentleman’s Agreement and Crossfire. The former was a prestige picture directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Gregory Peck and John Garfield. It could be called a “Gentile savior” film as journalist Peck goes “undercover” and poses as a Jew. It won the best picture Oscar but has not held up that well. It’s a good but not great movie.
Crossfire was a noirish genre film that told the story of an anti-Semitic soldier played by the great Robert Ryan. It’s a tight, compact thriller with a fabulous cast: Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, Sam Levene, and a pipe smoking Robert Young. It’s a 4 star classic and a much more effective tool against anti-Semitism than the more genteel Gentleman’s Agreement.
Here’s the poster. It has one of the best tag lines ever:
Let’s all go to the lobby and check out this lobby card:
Crossfire was adapted from a novel by Richard Brooks who was the writer-director of such classics as Elmer Gantry and In Cold Blood.
Hollywood improved on Brooks’ title. You can see for yourself:
I was mildly chagrined to lean that I used Crossfire for PFT 6 years ago. I missed the Brooks book so this post is better. It’s what happens when you’re prolific and occasionally prolix.