A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
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 <email@example.com>
"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 »
Neither the city nor county where the courthouse is said to be located and the majority of the movie take place, are actual places in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See more »
I watched "An Act of Murder" because I love the actors Frederic March and Edmund O'Brien. Both were Oscar-winning actors who were not exactly handsome (especially as they aged) and managed to give one impressive performance after another over the decades. Sadly, however, despite having two excellent stars, the film lost its momentum towards the end.
When the film begins, March plays a tough-as-nails judge and O'Brien a bleeding-heart defense attorney. The two don't like each other all that much--and late in the film, O'Brien's character comes to the judge's defense when he's on trial for a mercy killing. In between is the part of the film I loved most--and which is totally obscured by the ending which is filled with speechifying and some bizarre behavior by March's character. It's a shame, as the idea of mercy killing and medical ethics are really interesting topics and it's pretty amazing to see them talked about in the 1940s, as usually films deliberately avoided this back in the day.
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