MovieChat Forums > Crossfire (1947) Discussion > Anti-Semitism Is Too Over The Top Here

Anti-Semitism Is Too Over The Top Here


The problem with this movie is that Robert Ryan is too overtly consumed with hatred of Jews.

A real anti-semite could watch Ryan's frightening performance and say "well I'm not like that, and I don't know anyone who is. I've got nothing against jews; I've got jewish friends. I just wish they'd become Americans."

I'm not saying there weren't people like Ryan, but his out of control rage would've been more understandable if his victim had been gay rather than jewish. Having met anti-semites and homophobes, the anti-semites are very subtle and sly. The homophobes verge into disgust and fear.

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It was a different time when Ryan's character lived. Nowadays racism is kept more inside and isn't as overt. Back in those day's there were more racists like Robert Ryan's character who couldn't keep it in and were violate with hate against jews or blacks.

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"A real anti-semite could watch Ryan's frightening performance and say "well I'm not like that, and I don't know anyone who is. I've got nothing against jews; I've got jewish friends. I just wish they'd become Americans." "

What about all the violently anti-semitic people? I think they would side more with Robert Ryan's character than people who claim that they have Jewish friends.

The sad truth of the matter is that Robert Ryan's character is like a lot of real bigots.

Agreed, the film should have been about homophobia (in a way it was, it was about all bigotry, but the code stopped any discussion of gays) but the violent hatred of Montgomery is not out of place for anti-semitism; he have NAZIs, Neo-NAZIs, Tsarists ect. as proof of that.

"Namu-myoho-renge-kyo"

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"...his out of control rage would've been more understandable if his victim had been gay rather than jewish"

Apparently in the original novel it was a homophobic murder, changed to anti-Semitic for the film.
I find the film much more interesting and understandable with this subtext in mind.

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I don´t think Ryan´s character´s overtness in his anti-semitism was unrealistic, but the way he started to rant about "you know, people like that... some of them are called Samuels" during the first interrogation in the beginning, was a bit too dumb of him to believe. The way he drunkenly acted in the flashback sequence before the murder was brilliant though with the roundabout verbal abuse (the movie´s dialogue´s outstandingly written in general).



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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The film is based on a novel called "The Brick Foxhole" where the murder victim WAS a homosexual. But the Production Code of the time forbid filmmakers from dealing with homosexuality directly, so the victim had to be changed. WOuld be interesting to see a remake, with the original victim and see how it plays.

"We're fighting for this woman's honor, which is more than she ever did."

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It was clear from Samuels´s general demeanor and especially his behaviour with the later suspect in the bar scene, that he was indeed supposed to be gay as well as a Jew.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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Not really, many low class people have antisemitism spouting out of their ears. It is just not acceptable in most places to hate Jews anymore.

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The idea that the anti-Semitism is over the top is your opinion, but not a very logical one.

Anti-Semitism is as they say the oldest hatred, and one that sadly continues unabated today. You cannot take 2000 years of Christian teachings blaming Jews for every ill on the earth and expect a scant 40 or 50 years of more rational instruction to expunge the past.

In this film Montgomery did not hide his anti-Semitism, because he felt it was a universal opinion, and nothing that would make him a suspect in this murder.

The only thing I felt to be over the top was having Robert Young, especially after the speech he gives about hatred, gun down Montgomery in the street. Especially so to the eyes of modern viewers.

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I find your comments interesting, but because in the late 60s (almost 50 years ago) when I was in elementary school The Sisters of St. Joseph taught us not to worry about the other Christians and that the Jews were God's Chosen People; at the time, I only knew one Jewish family because there was one in our neighborhood (not many in my Catholic School ;) ). After we moved to the DC area in middle school, I knew many Jews - and wasn't aware of discrimination towards them - however the race issue in terms of African Americans was in full swing - but my parents (and those Sisters) had taught us that we are all equal in God's eyes.

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The idea that the anti-Semitism is over the top is your opinion, but not a very logical one.

Anti-Semitism is as they say the oldest hatred, and one that sadly continues unabated today. You cannot take 2000 years of Christian teachings blaming Jews for every ill on the earth and expect a scant 40 or 50 years of more rational instruction to expunge the past.

In this film Montgomery did not hide his anti-Semitism, because he felt it was a universal opinion, and nothing that would make him a suspect in this murder.

The only thing I felt to be over the top was having Robert Young, especially after the speech he gives about hatred, gun down Montgomery in the street. Especially so to the eyes of modern viewers.

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I agree that it may have been more believable if they had stuck to the source material and made it a homophobic crime, but it was just too much to ask to 40's Hollywood. This wasn't Nazi Germany and homosexuals or African-Americans were more frequent victims of this type of crime. Although making the victim African-American would have made it easier to immediately suspect the motif.

Anyway, it's still a powerful movie. Interesting that it's an adaptation of a Richard Brooks novel, but he didn't adapt if for the screen himself.

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As a kid, I remember hearing that Jewish men didn't make good soldiers and that there was some serious anger among ranks in the military, particularly WWII military, that Jews didn't do their fair share during WWII.
Its not hard to deduce from this that non Jewish soldiers were angry about having 'saved the German Jews' while the American Jew avoided military service leaving it up to Christian soldiers to save their butts.
I do not remember where I heard/'learned' this but I do recall that whomever I heard this from (likely from more than one person) that I never questioned it. I had no reason not to believe that this wasn't true until I went off to college and learned how the Israeli military kicked a**.
The first time I saw this movie I assumed this was why the movie was about soldiers and a civilian Jewish man.

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