In retrospect, many critics consider “Crossfire” in every respect a better film than “Gentleman`s Agreement”: theme, characterization, theatre and visual style. Similarly, the management of racist bigotry, although more disguised, was staged by Dmytryk as a tense black thriller about an obsessive and psychopathic sergeant (Robert Ryan, specialized in this kind of role) who beats to death an ex-Jewish sergeant. Inspector Finlay (Robert Young), assisted by Sergeant Keely (Robert Mitchum), stops catching the killer. As a gentleman`s Agreement, it`s a heavy-hearted news film with a lot of anti-prejudice talk, but it boasts a great comedy by Ryan and Gloria Grahame, as floozy Dance Hall Girl, both nominated for supporting awards. It is about the anti-Semitism of prosperous post-war America and the insidious way in which Jews were excluded from high-level social clubs, resorts and, of course, jobs. There have been no official bans, just a nod and a nod and a “gentleman`s agreement” between nice conservatives they know the kind of people they want to be associated with. This is the kind of everyday prejudice that Groucho Marx elegantly dismissed with his joke that he did not want to join a club that would have him as a member. In 1947, the Oscar for Best Picture was awarded to Gentleman`s Agreement with Gregory Peck as a campaign reporter on a mission. The awards for Best Director were also awarded to Elia Kazan and Best Supporting Actress to Celeste Holm. At first glance, this sounds like a “publishing film” rather worthy of the 1940s, the kind of film the Academy thought it was honoring.
But gentleman`s Agreement is always a captivating, fascinating, somewhat boring, by turns naïve and very sharp film, fascinating for what it puts and omchant. The fact that “Gentleman`s Agreement” was voted best painting for more ideological reasons than for reasons, testifies not only to his victory over “Crossfire” but also to his victory over David Lean`s masterpiece, “Great Expectations”. The Academy has proven that the first counts more when you balance the content of a film against its style. “Gentleman`s Agreement” won two other awards, for director Kazan and for assistant actress Celeste Holm, who had all the dialogue. It`s one of the most unwitting hilarious lines in cinema. All this setup could indeed be a delicious satirical comedy. But of course, it`s deadly serious. Phil finds bad incidents of anti-Semitism everywhere: his bouncer contradicts the fact that he puts a Jewish name on his mailbox in the apartment building (and advertises for the building to take Jews) and by typing with the janitors, he spreads the word about the fact that he is Jewish, and thus indirectly he subjects Phil`s son to bigoted derisions at school. Phil discovers that her secretary, Miss Wales, is Jewish and has changed her name to get a job (like Hobson), but also that she is a Self-hating Jew who believes in her heart in her own inferiority. The magazine`s intelligent and funny art editor, Anne Dettrey (Celeste Holm), becomes a friend and admires her plan to unmask anti-Semitism, but like Miss Wales and most people in the office, they don`t realize he`s not really Jewish. Darryl F.
Zanuck, director of 20th Century Fox, produced the film in person and hired renowned playwright Moss Hart to adapt Laura Z. Hobson`s controversial novel. Gregory Peck plays the journalist crossed and Dean Stockwell plays his grandson, also affected by prejudice. Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield, Anne Revere and June Havoc are other actors who shoot memorable performances. Celeste Holm received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her first on-screen dramatic role.