As we continue with Noirvember, I bring one of my favorites from the era, Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire. I read one critic who said it is more of a “message film” than a film noir and I think that is kind of a ridiculous statement, as it assumes the two are mutually exclusive. If you’ve seen The Celluloid Closet, then you know that originally the crime in this film was perpetrated out of homophobia, rather than anti-Semitism. Under the Hays Code, clearcut mention of homosexuality was prohibited because it was consider “sexual perversion.” I’m going to write a little more about the origins of the film after the cut. Crossfire was nominated for five Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Robert Ryan, Best Supporting Actress Gloria Grahame, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best picture that year were The Bishop’s Wife, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street and winner Gentleman’s Agreement (which is also about anti-Semitism). Crossfire was one of the twenty highest-grossing films of 1947, along with three other noirs: Body and Soul, Possessed and Dark Passage.
Waiter: Here you are, sir.
Dr. Jeff Cameron: These things are like water!
Waiter: They creep up on you.
Dr. Jeff Cameron: Bring me a couple more.
Waiter: But, sir, you have four and we are only allowed two to a customer.
Dr. Jeff Cameron: Why?
Waiter: That drink makes a guy talk back to his mother-in-law.
Dr. Jeff Cameron: What about his father-in-law?
Waiter: I suppose so.
Dr. Jeff Cameron: You’ve given me an idea.
If you follow me on Tumblr, y’all know how much I love westerns, so I was really excited to find out about these two newly remastered films from the Warner Archive. The first is a Zapata spaghetti western Un esercito di cinque uomini aka The Five Man Army, from producer/director Italo Zingarelli with a screenplay co-written by master of Italian horror Dario Argento (who also co-wrote Once Upon a Time in the West). A Zapata spaghetti western, fyi, is an Italian western from the late-1960s/early-1970s that is set in Mexico and usually they have political (i.e. dealing with the revolution, etc.) themes. The second film is 1972′s The Wrath of God directed by Ralph Nelson (not to be confused with Werner Herzog’s similarly named film, which also came out in 1972).
Pat Brady: [after a film screening] What’s Eddie, asleep? Jesus. Goddamn movie even puts the editor to sleep.
Assistant editor: He’s not asleep, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: What do you mean, he’s not asleep?
Assistant editor: He’s dead, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: Dead? What do you mean, he’s dead!
Assistant editor: He must have died during the. . .
Pat Brady: How can he be dead? We were just watching the rough cut! Jesus, I didn’t hear anything. Did you hear anything?
Fleishacker: Not a thing.
Assistant editor: Eddie. . .he probably didn’t want to disturb the screening, Mr. Brady.