PLEASE see this movie, it's important!
Turner Classic Movies article by Jeff Stafford (I edited it down to the essentials here).
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Dore Schary's first film for RKO. Based on Richard Brooks' first novel, The Brick Foxhole, written while he was still in the Marines (he later became a Hollywood screenwriter/director). Brought first time Oscar nominations to both Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame in supporting roles and to Edward Dmytryk for his direction.
Crossfire also marked the last time Dmytryk and his producer Adrian Scott would work together; both men would be called before the House Un-American Activities Committee after completing Crossfire and blacklisted for refusing to answer questions about their alleged Communist Party affiliations. According to Dmytryk in his autobiography It's a Hell of a Life But Not a Bad Living, it was Adrian Scott who optioned the novel The Brick Foxhole for the screen: "It was a loose, rambling story of the frustrations of stateside soldiers at the end of the war. The book had a number of subplots, one of which concerned the murder of a homosexual by a sadistic bigot.
"Adrian had an inspiration: What if the murder and its aftermath were the whole spine of the story, and what if the victim was a heterosexual Jew? We could do at least a partial study of bigotry -- particularly as it relates to anti-Semitism -- and nothing like that had ever been done in Hollywood before."
At first Dore Schary was skeptical about the project. Despite his reputation for championing "message films," he felt that Crossfire would not appeal to the average moviegoer (this was based on a poll that showed only an eight percent interest by those polled). He also felt it would attract the unwanted attention of HUAC due to its controversial subject matter, anti-Semitism.
Even with these qualms, however, the project was approved. In exchange for the relatively high cost of the name cast, which included Robert Young, Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan, the shooting schedule was reduced to an economic timeline of twenty days. Yet, thanks to cinematographer J. Roy Hunt, the film's atmospheric low-key lighting was accomplished quickly and efficiently resulting in one of the most visually impressive film noirs ever.
The dark, pessimistic look and tone of Crossfire was further enhanced by a career-making performance by Robert Ryan as Montgomery, a psychotic racist whose hatred of Jews was terrifying to behold.
"Ryan's powerful performance resists the kind of neat, limiting social classification that the film wants to attach to his sickness," Foster Hirsch wrote in The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir. "He plays with an intensity that transcends the film's own boundaries as a liberal social document." Equally impressive in Crossfire, though in smaller roles, are Sam Levene as the murder victim, Gloria Grahame as a pathetic bar girl, and Paul Kelly as her bitter ex-husband, a dishonorably discharged soldier.
Crossfire marked a real turning point in Grahame's career, one that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Grahame later said, "Strangely, it was a dialogue director, Bill Watts, who first made me realize how to play movies. It's thinking. I was doing my hair for a scene and he said, forget the hair. And he started talking, and I forgot the hair, the makeup and everything. All he did was talk to me about who the character was, where she was, what she was until I was so immersed in what it was all about. After that, maybe I just did it for myself."
Robert Mitchum, who lends a quiet authority to Crossfire in his role as the cynical sergeant who helps with the murder investigation, was on his way to major stardom in 1947. He had recently been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in Story of G.I. Joe (1945) and would soon be reaping critical acclaim for his work in Out of the Past and Pursued, both released the same year as Crossfire.
The film was a critical success and a box office hit for RKO. And its theme is still relevant today. Regarding this, Dmytryk wrote in his autobiography that, "After our rough-cut showing to the sound and music department, one of the young assistant sound cutters, an Argentine, complimented me on the picture.
"'It's such a fine suspense story,' he said. 'Why did you have to bring in that stuff about anti-Semitism?' 'That was our chief reason for making the film,' I answered. 'But there is no anti-Semitism in the United States,' he protested. 'If there were, why is all the money in America controlled by Jewish bankers?'"
"I stared at him in astonishment. 'That's why we made the film' was all I could think of to say."
Producer: Dore Schary, Adrian Scott
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Richard Brooks (novel), John Paxton
Cinematography: J. Roy Hunt
Film Editing: Harry Gerstad
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Alfred Herman
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Robert Young (Capt. Finlay), Robert Mitchum (Sgt. Peter Keeley), Robert Ryan (Montgomery), Gloria Grahame (Ginny Tremaine), Paul Kelly (Mr. Tremaine), Sam Levene (Joseph Samuels).
http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/71903/Cr ... icles.html