Saturday, August 20, 2005

Recent Watching: Crossfire

Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire is definitely a subversive film, but I can’t tell to what? By telling the story of an anti-Semitic sergeant who murders an innocent vet because of his Jewish heritage, is he exposing the sordid sides to our military? Or, by emphasizing the military’s quick reflexes in bringing a falsely accused soldier to innocence and bringing justice to the guilty party, is Dmytryk only adding fuel to the military’s propaganda bonfire?


Robert Ryan is clearly the highpoint of the film. Violence, for Ryan, isn’t an outward emotion, it is something inward that is projected, it has to come through your eyebrows and your elbows, not just your fists and your words. His face is unsettlingly calm, his limbs almost mechanical, and his composure sure and unrevealing: the epitome of militaristic professionalism. His perfection exudes the façade it seeks to hide. Never given the opportunity to be the hero, Ryan was able to perfect the role of “villain” even when the scripts were deficient (as in Crossfire). He doesn’t rest on dialogue and screen-direction, he makes acting something deeply personal, in the process wresting the character from the writer/director, and making it truly a creation of the actor. For this reason, many of Ryan’s character exhibit certain similarities; needless to say, they are always well acted, and always make the films a worthwhile venture.

-Cullen Gallagher


Jeffrey Smadbeck said...

this might be wasting my time, because I know how well you keep up with your boi 50, but...
tell me this won't be the best movie of the fall. tell me this won't be watched 50 years from now. okay, maybe that was going too far, but you better be getting pumped for this.

Jeffrey Smadbeck said...

Stephen Snart said...

Totally dig your Robert Ryan praising, I highly recommend The Set-Up for another brilliant performance of his that features the underlying violent streak you touched upon without turning him into a villain.