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Act of Violence (1949)

Passed | | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller | February 1949 (USA)
An embittered, vengeful POW stalks his former commanding officer who betrayed his men's planned escape attempt from a Nazi prison camp.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Robert L. Richards (screenplay), Collier Young (story)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Van Heflin ... Frank R. Enley
Robert Ryan ... Joe Parkson
Janet Leigh ... Edith Enley
Mary Astor ... Pat
Phyllis Thaxter ... Ann
Berry Kroeger ... Johnny
Taylor Holmes ... Gavery
Harry Antrim Harry Antrim ... Fred
Connie Gilchrist ... Martha
Will Wright ... Pop
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Storyline

War veteran Frank Enley seems to be a happily married small-town citizen until he realises Joe Parkson is in town. It seems Parkson is out for revenge because of something that happened in a German POW camp, and when a frightened Enley suddenly leaves for a convention in L.A., Parkson is close behind. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Manhunt No Woman Could Stop! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Act of Violence See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,290,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Mary Astor and Janet Leigh co-starred in MGM's Little Women (1949) with June Allyson the same year this film was released. See more »

Goofs

When Frank explains to Edith what happened in the POW camp, he sits on the stairs and places both hands on the upper hand rail. The camera cuts, and he has one hand on the upper rail, the other hand on the middle. See more »

Quotes

Frank R. Enley: You don't know what made him the way he is - I do!
See more »

Connections

References Summer Holiday (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Done A Terrible Wrong
13 August 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Neither Van Heflin or Robert Ryan were ever considered matinée idols or big box office draws. But both men were consummate professionals who could cast well in a variety of roles. I think that Act Of Violence could have worked just as well if they had played each other's parts.

MGM was a studio that did not do noir films very often, but in this case with Fred Zinnemann directing they did this one very well. No cops or private eyes in this one, both men are your average American of 1948. One has done a terrible wrong to the other and the other is seeking revenge.

Heflin is a former pilot who was shot down over Germany during World War II and Ryan was his bombardier. They both did time in a POW camp where Heflin informed on escape plans that Ryan and others made. No one survived but Ryan and he now walks with a limp, courtesy of Nazi machine gunners.

In civilian life Heflin is now a very successful contractor and when he hears Ryan is looking for him, he gets naturally rattled which concerns his wife Janet Leigh. Heflin who was not going to go to a convention in Los Angeles now changes his mind abruptly, but not before explaining to Leigh the reason for his fear. It's more fear of being exposed than for his life.

In Los Angeles Heflin who won his Oscar for Johnny Eager playing an alcoholic borrows a bit from that role as he ends up in a waterfront dive pouring his troubles out to some lowlifes played by Mary Astor, Taylor Holmes, and Berry Kroeger. Holmes is also drawing a bit from a previous role as a shyster lawyer in Kiss Of Death as he's playing the same kind of character in seedier circumstances. In fact Holmes's character says he is an attorney. I know Fred Zinnemann must have seen Kiss Of Death and cast Holmes as a result of that.

The climax might not be what you think, but in a way it's a fitting ending to the story. Though they get good support from the rest of the cast Heflin and Ryan dominate the story though they have no scenes together until the end. Act Of Violence is a noir classic and fans of Heflin and Ryan should list it among their best performances.


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