An Act of Murder

1948

Crime / Drama

0
IMDb Rating 7.0

Synopsis


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1.73G
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English
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91 min
P/S 0 / 0
1.10G
Normal
English
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91 min
P/S 0 / 0

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Hup234! 9

This film's relentless plotline marches straight-ahead forward as you squirm, fascinated, in your chair. The story is the familiar one about the onset of terminal illness within a solid American family of the 1940s. Never mind that it delves into MGM-style sermonizing; the great real-life husband/wife team of Fredric March and Florence Eldridge portray the couple whose once-comfortable lives are now being separated by an unstoppable and fast-advancing disease. The helpless husband, the uncomplaining wife, and their final attempt to recapture happier days with a doomed weekend outing is the stuff of deep film drama indeed. The sense of onrushing darkness is tangible through the film-noir camera shadings of Hal Mohr (Captain Blood, Phantom of the Opera [1943], The Climax), and Daniele Amfitheatrof's rich musical score. "An Act of Murder" makes a profound statement on the value, and the fragility, of life.

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Reviewed by adamshl 7

The concept of tempering legality with compassion is a daring, slippery slope. It is today as it was in 1948 when this challenging film was released.<br/><br/>Fortunately, this drama has the great acting team Florence Eldridge and Fredric March in the lead roles, lending both power and sensitivity to their characterizations. While conceding that the law must by its nature be clear and committed, one can also empathize with the human challenges faced in the case of a terminally ill loved one who is in great pain and suffering.<br/><br/>Where does one draw the line in such cases, especially when a spouse accused of murder emphatically pleads guilty? It&#39;s a tough situation created here, and one that must either tread the path of legal justice or find extenuating circumstances to help relieve the inevitable sentence.<br/><br/>&quot;An Act of Murder&quot; manages to walk this tightrope with considerable balance, thanks to an outstanding cast and some petty talented writers. The film also may be considered a &quot;lost work,&quot; despite the pairing of Mr. and Mrs. March in the lead roles.<br/><br/>It&#39;s also interesting to see only a single bona fide professional review in the IMDb, as though this subject may have been (and still may be) too tough to handle. The most complete review (by Bosley Crowther of the NY Times) expresses the critic&#39;s general reaction without declaring a firm stance on the controversial subject of euthanasia. And perhaps this is the best we can ever get, for the topic may be too challenging for us mortals to ever definitively solve.

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Reviewed by AlsExGal 8

Here Fredric March plays criminal court judge Calvin Cooke who has a reputation as a sort of &quot;hanging judge&quot; so that he has earned the nickname of &quot;old man Maximum&quot;. Edmond O&#39;Brien plays a defense attorney arguing a case before the judge. While O&#39;Brien&#39;s character looks at the spirit of the law, Judge Cooke looks only at the letter of it and it is obvious from the opening court scene that the two do not like each other. What do they have in common? They both love the judge&#39;s only daughter, Ellie.<br/><br/>Now this doesn&#39;t mean that the judge is a bad guy. He likes his community, adores his wife of twenty years (Florence Eldridge as Catherine Cooke), and loves his daughter.<br/><br/>But more trouble is afoot than just a suitor for his daughter&#39;s hand that the judge dislikes. His wife Catherine has been having headaches, dizziness, and has been dropping things due to numbness in her hands. She confides in a friend who also happens to be a doctor that she has &quot;a friend&quot; with these symptoms, and the doctor sees through her ruse and says that she should come to his Philadelphia office the next day for a check-up. She does that, but lies to Calvin and says she is going shopping.<br/><br/>This is where I do some head scratching. The news is bad - Catherine has a type of inoperable brain tumor that means a certain and painful death. The doctor tells Catherine that everything is fine. Who does he call? After sticking a cancer stick in his mouth to relieve the stress (????) the good doctor calls Calvin, her husband and tells HIM the truth. They both decide to not tell Catherine, the ACTUAL patient, the truth. Later when Catherine finds out, she decides not to talk about it either, even though by the way she found out she must know that her husband knows. Why isn&#39;t anybody talking to anybody about this woman&#39;s illness? Everybody just goes on pretending. Maybe this is the way it was 60 years ago, and that is one reason I love classic film - it gives you real insight into a bygone era about how people handled life, in this case illness, the fact that doctors routinely smoked, that grown daughters lived at home and pretty much went from the custody of their fathers to their husbands, and that it was acceptable for a policeman to shoot a dog that had been run over by a car in plain view of the general public - a mercy killing. This last incident happens as the judge is walking down the street to get pain medicine for his wife that just isn&#39;t doing the job. The implication is that mercy killing is on the mind of &quot;old man Maximum&quot; too. How will all of this work out? Watch and find out.<br/><br/>Even though all of the characters in this film are basically &quot;good people&quot; with good intentions, you could almost classify this one as a noir, because there are no easy answers, no possible way to a happy ending. I&#39;ve seen a restored version of this film on Turner Classic Movies in the last year, so I wish Universal would find some way to get it out to the public. The questions the film raises are still relevant today. Highly recommended.

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