Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11., No. 9. 28th July 1948
Film Reviews — Crossfire
This story began a long time ago. . . . It isn't over yet, either. . . . It began in the time of Ghengis Khan, in the time of Moses, in the time of Jesus Christ, in the time of Attila the Hun—and in the time before that.
"Crossfire" concerns itself with the growing intolerance that is spreading throughout the world, not only in Washington, D.C., but also in New York, London, Sydney, and Wellington, New Zealand. This story tackles one aspect of this intolerance—the hatred of the Jewish race.
Unlike most films "Crossfire" has something to say, and says it bluntly, sparing no feelings. The message is conveyed without any long flowery speeches, sentimentalism or complexity of plot. The producers have set themselves a goal and plotted their course directly towards that goal, without any detours on the way.
An ex-serviceman is murdered. Investigation shows that there is no motive for his death . . . at first. This introduces the theme without any undue hysterics or trumpet blowing. From then on the message of the film and the hunt for the killer go hand in hand towards the inevitable conclusion.
Neither message nor investigation is concentrated on but are kept carefully in their right place. For to concentrate on the Investigation would have resulted in the film being no more than a top-notch murder trying to appear deeper than it was, while to concentrate overmuch on the message would have made the film embarrassing to view. It is, thus, well balanced, and is more forceful for this. Director Dmytryk and his cameramen have got together and have given us some of the finest photography this reviewer has seen on celluloid. What this Director does not know about shadows and the relation of light and shade isn't worth knowing. The night photography is especially illustrative of this and is noticeably impressive throughout the film.
John Paxton has written for the film an excellent screenplay, hard hitting and economic. It is not as frank as it could be and perhaps should have been, but a few punches have been aimed at the education system and the narrow-mindedness of communities and their citizens, punches that have been well aimed and stung more than a little.
The cast has been very well chosen, right from the three Roberts who head the cast, Young Mitchum and Ryan [unclear: wn] to Paul [unclear: Relly], who makes a great impression as an unwanted husband. Robert Young walks through his role, a role he plays with ease and is a lesson and a delight to sec. The cast as a whole keep such a high standard that "Crossfire" must rate as one of the best acted Alms Hollywood has turned out.