I’ve been watching my way through Joan Crawford’s filmography (I’m at 57 I think now!) and finally was able to watch this gem from, at the time, the only female director in Hollywood: Dorothy Arzner. The one review I could find of the film from its initial release is not too generous, but I have to say I absolutely loved this film.
The Forbidden Hollywood collections have been bringing us some of the greatest pre-code films to DVD for the first time for almost a decade. Originally released through the TCM Vault Collection, the last few editions have come from the Warner Archive Collection. Vol. 6 has been out for a few weeks now, but I was finally able to sit down and watch the four films included: The Wet Parade, Downstairs, Mandalay and Massacre. It’s a pretty great collection – all of films I hadn’t heard of before. Vol. 7 will be coming out shortly (and I will hopefully report on that collection as well). After the cut, I’ll briefly discuss the four films that are included in this excellent manufactured on demand set.
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.