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An Act of Murder (1948)

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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 202 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 2 critic

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



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

An Act of Murder (1948) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Judge Calvin Cooke
David Douglas
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 ...
Mr. Pope


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


MERCY or MURDER? Can you condemn this man?


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 December 1948 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

I Stand Accused  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Florence Eldridge, who portrays Fredric March's wife, also portrayed his wife twelve years later in 'Inherit the Wind'. See more »


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


Version of I accuse (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

Frederic March finds his wife, Florence Eldridge, has a fatal illness
12 August 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"An Act of Murder" is a gripping and deeply emotional story about a tough judge, Frederic March, who learns from the family doctor, Stanley Ridges, that his wife, Florence Eldridge, has a fatal, inoperable and painful illness of the brain. This is kept from Eldridge until she accidentally discovers it, and then she doesn't let March know that she knows. Meanwhile she is experiencing a lot of pain and disability.

Edmond O'Brien plays a lawyer who is going with March's daughter, Geraldine Brooks. That sub-plot eventually ties in with the main plot through a trial sequence in the last part of the movie.

The acting of everyone in this movie is phenomenal. Florence Eldridge is so good that she made me nervous. The director had to be good to get such a uniform excellence from his cast. He was Michael Gordon, whom I had never before noted. But now looking at his work, we can see that he directed a succession of very good films, indeed.

I'd seen this movie before, but its worth was lost on me the first time around. "An Act of Murder" appears in film noir lists. It is a social-noir or a morality story-noir or family-noir primarily, with crime coming into it. There are tough crime-laden noirs like "Raw Deal". There are very dark ones that involve morality like "Act of Violence" and "Reckless Moment", and these get into family life but the psychological darkness of one or two people really prevail in the drama and mark it. And there are other noirs that mostly involve family life like "Pitfall", "No Man of Her Own", and "A Stolen Life" that are, in some sense, more having to do with family or a moral issue in a family. "An Act of Murder" is more in the latter set.

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