7.5/10
3,842
56 user 29 critic

Act of Violence (1949)

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 Sturges
Berry Kroeger ... Johnny
Taylor Holmes ... Gavery
Harry Antrim Harry Antrim ... Fred Finney
Connie Gilchrist ... Martha Finney
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 Man Hunt No Woman's Kisses Could Stop! See more »


Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Akt der Gewalt See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,290,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$703,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,129,000, 31 December 1948
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

This film received its USA television premiere in Philadelphia Sunday 14 October 1956 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by Los Angeles Tuesday 23 October 1956 on KTTV (Channel 11) , by Seattle Wednesday 31 October 1956 on KING (Channel 5), by New York City Tuesday 4 December 1956 on WCBS (Channel 2), by Altoona PA Sunday 9 December 1956 on WFBG (Channel 10) and by Chicago Wednesday 19 December 1956 on WBBM (Channel 2); in Minneapolis it first aired 2 May 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9) and in San Francisco 11 January 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie, when the car crashes head-on into the light pole, Frank Enley is thrown forward by the impact. He is next seen lying in the street several yards to the rear of the car. See more »

Quotes

Joe Parkson: Sure, I was in the hospital, but I didn't go crazy. I kept myself sane. You know how? I kept saying to myself: Joe, you're the only one alive that knows what he did. You're the one that's got to find him, Joe. I kept remembering. I kept thinking back to that prison camp. One of them lasted to the morning. By then, you couldn't tell his voice belonged to a man. He sounded like a dog that got hit by a truck and left him in the street.
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User Reviews

Zinnemann again looks at the aftermath of war
17 November 2003 | by clore_2See all my reviews

In "Seventh Cross" director Fred Zinnemann depicted the isolation of a concentration camp escapee (Spencer Tracy) with MGM studio sets stepping in for actual locations - that would have been impossible at the time. In "The Search" he made use of a ruined Berlin to tell the story of a very young concentration camp survivor - a young boy separated from his mother - using the ruins as a metaphor for the many ruined lives.

In "Act of Violence" Zinnemann returns to the aftermath of war - this time telling of two prisoner-of-war camp survivors, one of whom was a Nazi collaborator, the other one a vengeful fellow prisoner who takes it upon himself to track down and kill his former friend. Cinematographer Robert Surtees makes great use of Los Angeles' seedier parts of town - I was reminded of how his son Bruce Surtees made similar effective use of San Francisco in "Dirty Harry" - this is noir at its best, not only in cinematic terms, but with those "only come out at night" characters you expect in a top notch thriller.

Mary Astor is most effective as the barfly (couldn't make her a prostitute, though it is more than obvious) - and after her performance in the garish "Desert Fury" it's nice to see her in black-and-white again. We first meet her in a pub in which Van Heflin runs for sanctuary, the lighting there has us admiring the way she has held up, but when we move to the harsher lighting of her apartment (the lamp hanging on a cord is unshaded), we realize that the first impression was too kind. It's a magnificent performance - perhaps the best that I've seen of her.

Barry Kroeger, whose altogether too infrequent appearances included such noir classics as "Cry of the City" and "Gun Crazy," makes the most of his few moments as an underworld "enforcer" who would be quite willing to kill Ryan for a price. While Ryan seems to be a man who is on the verge of violence at any second, barely able to restrain himself, Kroeger is even more chilling. His calm, rational demeanor puts him in a different class of predator - he's good at what he does and he's used to doing it, like Alan Ladd's character in "This Gun For Hire" we can be sure that when committing murder, he feels "Fine, just fine."

Janet Leigh appears as Heflin's wife - it's an early turn for her, and while it is a most stereotypically written "wifey" role, she invests it with all that she has, but the ending is such that we have to wonder just how she will react. Right before that we have a taut scene with Heflin about to confront Ryan while Kroeger is watching. The tension is almost unbearable, all done through editing and camerawork and not one line of dialogue.

Zinnemann would continue to look at war's effects on those who came home in "The Men" as well as "Teresa" and in "Hatful Of Rain" - the man may be the most unheralded of classic film directors, but his resume includes Oscar winners such as "High Noon" and "A Man For All Seasons" as well as such nailbiters as this film and the original "Day of the Jackal."


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