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Crossfire (Blu-ray Review)

Warner Archive Collection will be unveiling Edward Dmytryk film Crossfire to Blu-ray for the first time this month. Considered one of the peak film noir movies of the hey dey for the genre, it garnered itself five Academy Award nominations. All of which were in the major categories; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. They’ve also done a brand new 4K restoration for this release, coming from the original camera negative. A commentary and an archival featurette accompany the film on the disc. Crossfire will be coming out on March 16th. Pre-orders are up now and you can do such by clicking the pad Amazon Associates link following the review.

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Film

Years of police work have taught Detective Finlay that where there’s crime, there’s motive. But he finds no usual motive when investigating a man’s death by beating. The man was killed because he was a Jew. “Hate,” Finlay says, “is like a gun.” Robert Young portrays Finlay, Robert Mitchum is a laconic army sergeant assisting in the investigation of G.I. suspects, and Robert Ryan plays a vicious bigot in a landmark film noir nominated for five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Edward Dmytryk (Murder, My Sweet) directs, draping the genre’s stylistic backdrops and flourishes around a topic rarely before explored in films: anti-Semitism in the U.S. Here, Hollywood takes aim at injustice…and catches bigotry in a Crossfire.

Crossfire has an interesting backstory showcased in a must-see documentary called The Celluloid Closet. While the film was lauded and seen as a breakthrough for depicting a crime where the only motive was anti-Semitism (Something that would have been freshly on the brain with World War II recently ending), that was a the adaptational compromise. The film was based on the book, The Brick Foxhole. In that novel the crime of hate was because the victim was a homosexual. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s code forbid any depiction of that nature, as it was seen a perverse.

Its cored mystery and crime of hate theme still exist, making the film have such a strong structure and impact. Its a mystery that baffles its detective. The film features many a terrific interrogation conversations, flashbacks and exchanges between the suspected parties away from the police. There are some great performances to top that off, with a couple of them being up for Academy Award nominations. Robert Mitchum is probably the most recognizable name in the cast here, but he’s very much a side player in this, but commands the screen with such cool ease every time he slides in.

Edward Dmytryk drops all the hallmarks of the genre here. However, they are done in some of the most top notch degrees. Perhaps its just a beautiful restoration, but the lighting, the shadows and how they are utilized are marvelous. Our first shot in the film follows a confrontation told only by shadows on the wall. Every room, every alley, every corner is full of shadows and dread. If you’re a noir junkie and looking for something to bite off, there’s not many as nutritious a power bar as Crossfire.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/DetailCrossfire debuts on Blu-ray with a brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. And boy is it a beauty. This is hitting the furthest reaches you can on the Blu-ray format. Its a nice, clear picture with an impressive crispness. There is a nice grain structure intact allowing for great depth and details. Overall this thing just looks absolutely pretty.

Depth:  There’s a really impressive depth of field here with great spacing and pushback on the interiors (This is largely set in inside areas). Movements are cinematic and smooth. No motion distortions issues occur.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich. They provide great shading, texture and really liven the image up. No crushing witnessed. No information lost.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are gray/white and have a consistency throughout. Facial features like blemishes, make-up, wrinkles, sweat and a lot more come through and its pretty surprising. Mostly in the close-ups but its very detailed.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Crossfire comes with a very nicely restored mono track. It has a nice base of an analog hiss consistent throughout the runtime. There is a very dialogue focused mix on hand. The balance of effects/vocals/score is well blended here. Overall, the depth and layer and precision of the sound structure on this is very impressive.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. No instances of peaking or getting super fuzzy during intense deliveries.

Extras

Audio Commentary

  • By Alain Silver and James Ursini

Crossfire: Hate Is Like A Gun (SD, 8:58) – A vintage featurette that gives a narrative overview of the film’s production and legacy.

Summary

Crossfire is a terrific staple film noir in the heat of the era of the genre’s peak popularity. Warner Archive Collection has restored the former Best Picture nominee to outstanding degrees with a phenomenal video and audio presentation. It provides some solid extras for an overall very good package and entry into the archive. Noir fanatics need not my recommendation to pick this up. Its a must before I even published this review!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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