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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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