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An Act of Murder (1948)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 299 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 2 critic

A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife's terminal cancer.

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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: An Act of Murder (1948)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Florence Eldridge ...
Catherine Cooke
Geraldine Brooks ...
Ellie Cooke
Stanley Ridges ...
Doctor Walter Morrison
...
Judge Ogden
Frederic Tozere ...
Charles Dayton
...
Judge Jim Wilder
Virginia Brissac ...
Mrs. Russell
Francis McDonald ...
Mr. Russell
Mary Servoss ...
Julia
...
Pearson
...
Mr. Pope
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Storyline

Judge Cooke, good husband and father, is known in court as Old Man Maximum. Cooke's daughter loves defender Dave Douglas, who hates Cooke's attitude toward defendants. Cooke's life shatters when he learns his wife has terminal brain cancer; as her pain worsens, he begins to consider mercy-killing, but that would place him in the position of a defendant. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MERCY or MURDER? Can you condemn this man?

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1948 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

I Stand Accused  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Nemo me impune lacessit," the Latin phrase quoted by Judge Wilder during the dinner party, means "No one attacks me unpunished." It is the motto of the Scottish Order of the Thistle, and is also used on certain Scottish and British royal coats of arms. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Walter Morrison: What is incurable today is curable next Wednesday.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Universal Story (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Questions Still Raised Today
19 March 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

As Stanley Ridges says in An Act Of Murder what is hopeless today, might be curable on Wednesday such are the advances of medicine. And certainly we can treat and even cure more brain tumors today, even the type that Florence Eldridge has in this film.

But in 1948 cancer on the brain was a certain death sentence. At this time young Johnny Gunther was going through the same kind of struggle which his father would chronicle in Death Be Not Proud. Also the public remembered the premature death of George Gershwin from such an illness. Certainly Fredric March's character would also have been aware of these things, most definitely about Gershwin.

An Act Of Murder casts March and Eldrige as a small town Pennsylvania judge and his wife with Geraldine Brooks as their daughter. March is a rigid by the book judge known as Old Maximum because of the harsh sentences imposed. March has cross swords with defense attorney Edmond O'Brien in court so he's not real thrilled with Brooks going out with him, but Eldridge supports her daughter.

But when after having some dizzy spells, Eldridge goes to see their doctor Stanley Ridges, he finds out that she's got a terminal brain tumor and her suffering will increase exponentially. He's got a real crisis on his hands. Mercy killing is an option he considers and true to his rigid code, March confesses to killing her to relieve her suffering and is put on trial for it. Guess who gets to defend him?

Even with the Code parameters strictly enforced at this time, euthanasia was a daring subject to tackle in 1948. The ending which I won't reveal is a cop out, but they could have done little else at the time given the censorship restrictions.

March, Eldridge, and the rest of the cast are brilliant. An Act Of Murder raises questions still hotly contested today.


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