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An Act of Murder (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  18 December 1948 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 388 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 5 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)

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Complete credited cast:
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?


This movie marks the first use of "Courthouse Square", the iconic set/location seen in "Back to the Future" and countless other movies and TV shows. The courthouse facade was built for this movie. 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 »


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


Featured in Movies Are Adventure (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

A tough one
16 March 2015 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Caught this tough 1948 drama on TCM, which seems to have been out of circulation for a while. It's about a tough, by-the-book judge (Fredric March) who discovers his wife (Florence Eldridge, March's real-life spouse) has a fatal, painful disease, and rather clumsily plots a mercy killing. This means that for much of the film's length we have to watch Eldridge suffer, suffer, and it's quite uncomfortable viewing. There are plot conveniences that one other poster lists, and also the debatable position posed by the family doctor (Stanley Ridges, also good) that Eldridge should be lied to about her prognosis. Hal Mohr's photography thrusts itself deep into the Marches' anguish, and plot and subplot are contrivedly merged when Edmond O'Brien, as the liberal attorney who's romancing the Marches' daughter (Geraldine Brooks), injects himself into March's murder trial. Then there's some unconvincing, unsolvable philosophizing about euthanasia, and fadeout. I find a number of faults: Daniel Amfitheatrof's hyperactive musical score, which needlessly underlines everything, and was there ever a less appealing juvenile than pudgy, charmless Edmond O'Brien? But the issues are real, the debate is tense, and Mr. and Mrs. March are superb. Now if only TCM would find a way to show their other excellent co-starring vehicle from back then, also Universal and also directed by Michael Gordon, "Another Part of the Forest."

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