November, 1947 – Edward Dmytryk has been dismissed by RKO Radio Pictures at the insistence of Association of Motion Picture Producers president Eric Johnston.
Dmytryk joins the list of those motion picture industry professionals who find themselves “blacklisted” during the McCarthy-era ‘red scare’ by the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigation into the alleged ‘Red’ infiltration of Hollywood.
The group include producer Adrian Scott, who worked with Dmytryk on the highly praised film Crossfire, screenwriters John Howard Lawson, Lester Cole, Dalton Trumbo, Alvah Bessie, Albert Maltz, Ring Lardner, Jr., and Samuel Ornitz, and director Herbert Biberman.
The Hollywood Ten have been cited for “contempt of Congress”, for refusing to divulge any past or present political affiliations. Each had refused to answer the question: “Are you now, or have you ever been a Communist?”
Tagline– A MAN – Trying to run away from his past… A WOMAN – Trying to escape her future!
Starring – Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffat), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Steve Brodie (Jack Fisher).
Released– November, 1947
Directed By – Jacques Tourneur
Produced By– RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures
Description – When it comes to your past, you can run, but you can’t hide. Jeff Bailey, a man with a mysterious past, pumps gas at a station in the small town of Bridgeport, California. Jeff is dating local girl Ann Miller and, on the surface, life seems good.
However, not everyone is happy about the relationship. Ann’s parents are suspicious of Jeff as is Jim, the local law officer, who also is interested in Ann.
A man arrives in town looking for Jeff and informs him that gambler Whit Sterling wants to see him. This is where Jeff’s past begins to catch up with him.
A little about Jeff’s past.
While Jeff reluctantly agrees and drives with Ann to the meeting he tells her that he was once a private detective who, along with partner Jack Fisher, were hired by Whit to find Whitt’s girlfriend, Kathie Moffat, who shot Whit and left with $40,000 of his money.
He also tells Ann that his real name is Jeff Markham and that he had tracked Kathie to Acapulco where they started an affair. Together they left Acapulco for San Francisco to try and live a quiet life without Whit ever finding them. It didn’t last long.
They were recognized at the racetrack by Jeff’s old partner Fisher. Jeff and Kathie split up, with Jeff intending to throw Fisher off their trail. After believing that he has lost Fisher, Jeff heads for a cabin to reunite with Kathie. Soon after arriving, Fisher also shows up.
Fisher demands the money that Kathie stole from Whitt, and a fight with Jeff ensues. During the fight, Kathie shoots and kills Fisher. She then quickly drives off, leaving Jeff to cover up and run from the crime.
Back to the present.
Jeff and Ann now arrive at Whit’s estate and Jeff goes inside. To his surprise, Whit seems happy to see him and to his greater surprise, Kathie is there. She had gotten back together with Whit shortly after leaving Jeff at the scene of Fisher’s murder.
Whit says that he wants to make things right between himself and Jeff. He offers Jeff another job. Whit needs to recover some tax records that are being used to blackmail him and he says Jeff is the man for the job.
There’s a familiar ring of deceit in Whit’s plan. Another murder will soon follow and, for Jeff, the future doesn’t seem too promising.
NOTABLE: In 1991, Out of the Past, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Actor Humphrey Bogart wanted to play the part of Jeff in this film, but Warner Brothers was not interested in the script. RKO was and Robert Mitchum got the role. The lead had been offered to, and turned down, by both John Garfield and Dick Powell. A great break for Mitchum.
Personal Note: Another of my personal favorite film’s noir. This is classic and masterful noir right from the storyline, the cinematography, a lethal femme fatale, and great dialogue. A web of double-crosses and murder.
Starring – Robert Young (Capt. Finlay), Robert Mitchum (Sgt. Peter Keeley), Robert Ryan (Montgomery), Gloria Grahame (Ginny Tremaine), Paul Kelly (Mr. Tremaine).
Released– July, 1947
Directed By – Edward Dmytryk
Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures
Description – A body has been found in a Washington, D. C. apartment. The victim, Joseph Samuels, was brutally beaten and left for dead.
After questioning the woman, Miss Lewis, who found the body, police Captain Finlay believes that one of a trio of recently discharger soldiers that were with the murder victim and his woman friend in a bar earlier that evening may be the killer. But, which one? And why?
One of the soldiers was invited by Samuels back to his apartment. Miss Lewis returned to Samuels apartment later that night after Samuels did not answer his phone and found the body.
While investigating the scene of the crime, Army Sgt. Montgomery appears at the door of the apartment and states that he is looking for his friend Corp. “Mitch” Mitchell.
Montgomery says that he, along with Mitchell and another friend, Fred Bowers, were all in Samuels apartment that night. Montgomery claims that Mitchell had left abruptly, promising to return later, but did not come back while he and Bowers were still there.
Capt. Finlay’s search of the crime scene came up with Corp. Mitchell’s wallet and Finlay wants him picked up for questioning. Unable to find Mitchell, Finlay decides to bring his friend Sgt. Peter Keeley in to question him about Mitchell. Sgt. Keeley refuses to believe that his friend could have committed this brutal murder, but does acknowledge that Corp. Mitchell is suffering from post-war depression and is estranged from his wife.
While Capt. Finlay’s investigation continues, Sgt. Keeley decides to conduct an investigation of his own. Both interview Montgomery and Bowers and Sgt. Keeley also talks, secretly, with Mitchell. Each man has a different version of the events that led up to the murder. But, all circumstantial evidence still points to Mitchell.
One additional possible witness, Ginny Tremaine, is also questioned. As piece by piece the parts start to come together a motive not previously thought possible begins to reveal itself. It is now up to Capt. Finlay and Sgt. Keeley to work with each other to try and get the murderer to expose himself.
NOTABLE:Crossfire received five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Edward Dmytryk), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Ryan), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Gloria Grahame), and Best Writing, Screenplay.
Crossfire became the first “B” movie to receive a Best Picture nomination.
It has been suggested that not winning an Oscar, despite receiving five nominations, may have been the backlash associated with the refusal of Director Dmytryk and Producer Adrian Scott to testify before the House On Un-American Activities Committee.
Despite being a breakthrough role for actor Robert Ryan, he rarely talked about the role. Politically, Ryan was a libral who detested any form of bigotry and the role called for him to be anti semitic.
Actress Gloria Grahame has stated, later in her career, that the role of Ginny Tremaine was her favorite.
Starring – Claire Trevor (Helen Brent), Lawrence Tierney (Sam Wilde), Walter Slezak (Matthew Albert Arnett), Phillip Terry (Fred Grover), Audrey Long (Georgia Staples), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Marty Waterman).
Released– May, 1947
Directed By – Robert Wise
Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures
Description – The only thing as popular as gambling in Reno is the quickie divorce, and Helen Brent has just gotten hers. Returning to the boarding house where she has been staying while waiting for the divorce to go through, Helen discovers her neighbor Laurie Palmer and Laurie’s gentleman friend murdered.
Cold-hearted, and not wanting to get involved, Helen does not tell the police of her findings and proceeds to the train station to leave town. The who, and why, of the murders mean nothing to her, at least not now.
As for the “who,” it was Sam Wilde a violent drifter who had been the “other man” in Laurie’s life. Laurie had dated Sam in order to make her boyfriend Danny jealous and more attentive. This is where the “why” comes in. The one thing she did not count on was Sam’s insane jealously and his rule that he would never allow any other man to “cut in” on his girl.
As fate would have it, both Helen and Sam are on board the same train to San Francisco. Sam tries to initiate a flirtation on the train, and although Helen, engaged to marry wealthy suitor Fred Grover, discourages his attentions, Sam tracks her to her half-sister Georgia Staples mansion.
Arriving at the mansion, Sam meets Georgia and Fred. Quietly, Helen tells Georgia of her gruesome discovery back in Reno. That evening, as the group have dinner together, Sam makes another attempt at Helen. Again, she turns him down saying that nothing can come between her and Fred’s money.
In response, Sam turns his attentions to the emotionally vulnerable Georgia. Sam is so confident that he can “reel Georgia in” that later the same evening he telephones his confidant, Marty Waterman, in Reno to tell him of his plans to marry Georgia. Also back in Reno, and unknown to Sam, the owner of the boardinghouse has hired private investigator Matthew Albert Arnett to find out who committed the double murder at her place of business.
After a whirlwind romance, Sam and Georgia are married. Even though the marriage angers Helen she does not let it, or her engagement of Fred, stand in the way of the inevitable affair with Sam. When Arnett arrives at the mansion, and suggests that Sam may be involved in the Reno murder, Helen dismisses him refusing to believe any of his story.
But, this private detective has an agenda of his own and soon begins his plan to blackmail Helen regarding Sam’s committing the murder and her knowledge of the crime. This will lead to another murder and a final and fatal confrontation as everyone’s plans begin to unravel.
NOTABLE:Born to Kill was the first film noir to be directed by Robert Wise. He would go on to direct other notable films noir such as The Set-Up, The Captive City, and Odds Against Tomorrow.