Review of Crossfire (1947)

Intended by director Dmytryk to be a message movie wrapped in a sweet sugar pill of a murder mystery, _Crossfire_ is better as a film noir than a cautionary tale about intolerance. Inspector Finlay's lecture on hate crimes is eloquent but stilted. However, the following common elements in noir are skillfully deployed. First is the element of perversity in the depiction of violence. The very first scene is of a man being beaten to death--a man whose kindness and hospitability is acknowledged by his killer. Also, Montgomery masquerades as a good leader and friend. Yet having survived the war, Floyd is killed by his commander's bare hands. Second, authority is questioned and even undermined. Although Inspector Finlay is an anti-racist authority figure, Montgomery is doubly not. He is both a platoon leader and a policeman before the war. Third, discontinuous, circular time unfolds. The opening sequence of the murder is followed by time going forwards and backwards in Montgomery's and Mitchell's flashbacks.

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