Last night I finished watching this very thought-provoking noir with an interesting combination of social message and traditional pot-boiler: 1947's Crossfire.
The story, set in Washington, DC just after the end of World War II concerns the murder of a Jewish man by a hate-filled American soldier and the ensuing investigation. But the film is really about transitioning from the violence of wartime to the justice and peaceful society of back home. The subtext actually makes an otherwise rote drama into something exceptionally resonant and powerful, aided especially by the acting. The great Robert Ryan earned his only Oscar nomination here as the bigoted killer, and it was his first movie role. Robert Mitchum and a young Gloria Graehme are also standouts in their supporting roles.
I believe it was Jean-Luc Godard who called Crossfire the best American film noir. I think that's a huge overstatement. The same director, European expatriate Edward Dmytryk, made a far greater film - a masterpiece even - with the noir Murder, My Sweet. And the Mitchum-starring Out of the Past also easily trumps this picture.
Yet Crossfire snuck up on me as something very compelling in an unexpected way: like a mediocre work of architecture and construction that wound up looking gorgeous.