NOIR CITY 19: They Tried to Warn Us! CROSSFIRE / OPEN SECRET
1947, RKO Radio Pictures [Warner Bros.] 86 minutes
Screenplay by John Paxton, from the novel The Brick Foxhole by Richard Brooks
Produced by Adrian Scott
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
This most nocturnal of noirs--it all takes place during one long night in Washington, DC--often gets overlooked as a crackerjack crime picture because of its incisive attack on American bigotry. A Jewish civilian turns up dead after fraternizing with several recently demobilized soldiers; the GIs close ranks in military fashion, but their alpha-dog, Sgt. Keeley, gradually steers police captain Finlay toward the rotten apple in the bunch: an ignorant Southerner whose ingrained prejudice would have been welcomed in the Nazi SS. Memorable performances abound: Ryan is genuinely frightening, Mitchum forges his cool-cat persona, and Gloria Grahame and Paul Kelly are one of the strangest couples in 1940s cinema. Crossfire works spectacularly on two levels: as a searing and still-timely message picture and as a top-shelf, race-the-clock noir thriller.
Cast: Robert Mitchum (Sgt. Keeley), Robert Young (Capt. Finlay), Robert Ryan (Sgt. Montgomery), Gloria Grahame (Ginny Tremaine), Paul Kelly (Ginny's "man"), Sam Levene (Samuels), Jacqueline White (Mary Mitchell), Steve Brodie (Floyd Bowers), George Cooper (Corp. Mitchell), Richard Benedict (Bill)
1948, Eagle-Lion Films [UCLA Film & Television Archive]. 68 minutes
Screenplay by Henry Blankfort and Max Wilk, based on a story by Max Wilk and Ted Murkland, with additional dialogue by John Bright
Produced by Harry Brandt, Frank Satenstein, and Robert L. Joseph
Directed by John Reinhardt
Newlyweds Paul and Nancy Lester arrive in a small town to visit Paul's old buddy Ed Stevens. Only Ed is nowhere to be found, and none of the townfolk are eager to locate him. Paul is equally perplexed by the white supremacy tracts he finds in his pal's apartment. Discovery of an undeveloped roll of film leads to a camera store--which is promptly vandalized, its Jewish owner threatened. Suddenly, Paul and Nancy come face to face with a virulent tribe of American Nazis and must decide whether to flee deadly threats against themselves or keep searching for Paul's missing comrade. A low-budget but hard-hitting cousin to 1947's Crossfire and Gentleman's Agreement, both of which broached the once-taboo subject of anti-Semitism, Open Secret was audacious for its time, showing how rampant prejudice and bigotry could easily coalesce into an all-American strain of fascism. John Reinhardt assuredly directs, albeit with meager resources, this pull-no-punches tale that's anything but a typical B programmer.
Preceded by the short documentary A Night at The Garden (2017, dir. Marshall Curry, 7 min.)
CAST: John Ireland (Paul Lester), Jane Randolph (Nancy Lester), Sheldon Leonard (Det. Mike Frontelli), Roman Bohnen (Roy Locke), George Tyne (Harry Strauss), Morgan Farley (Larry Mitchell), Charles Waldron Jr. (Ed Stevens), Arthur O'Connell (Carter), Rory Mallinson (Chuck Hill), Morgan Farley (Larry Mitchell), Ellen Lowe (Mae Locke), Bert Conway (Mace), John Alvin (Ralph), Anne O'Neal (Miss Tristram), King Donovan (Fawnes), Tommy Noonan (Bob)
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Grand Lake Theatre (View)
3200 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
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