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An Act of Murder (1948)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 18 December 1948 (Sweden)
A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife's terminal cancer.

Director:

Michael Gordon

Writers:

Ernst Lothar (novel), Michael Blankfort (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fredric March ... Judge Calvin Cooke
Edmond O'Brien ... David Douglas
Florence Eldridge ... Catherine Cooke
Geraldine Brooks ... Ellie Cooke
Stanley Ridges ... Doctor Walter Morrison
John McIntire ... Judge Ogden
Frederic Tozere Frederic Tozere ... Charles Dayton
Will Wright ... Judge Jim Wilder
Virginia Brissac ... Mrs. Russell
Francis McDonald ... Mr. Russell
Mary Servoss ... Julia
Don Beddoe ... Pearson
Clarence Muse ... 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 | Plot 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1948 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Live Today for Tomorrow See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Florence Eldridge, who portrays Fredric March's wife, also portrayed his wife twelve years later in 'Inherit the Wind'. The two actors were married in real life. See more »

Goofs

While the setting was Pennsylvania, the outdoor highway scenes were obviously shot in California. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Version of Murder or Mercy (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent but it loses its way towards the end.
30 August 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

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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