Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
Moorman

Act of Violence (1949)

Recommended Posts

Frank Enley ( Van Heflin) has got a problem.  That problem is named Joe Parkson ( Robert Ryan).  The plot is so simple that it requires a spoiler alert to even talk about it.  Enley and Parkson were buddies in the same military unit ( I believe Air Force) and were both held in a World War II POW camp with their comrades.  Enley was the commanding officer of the unit.  Parkson spoke with Enley about a escape plan.  Enley took this information and sold out his comrades for food. He alerted the camp commanding officer.  This information was used to ambush the escaping men and they were all killed with the exception of Parkson who faked death but was left permanently crippled.   He has a axe to grind with Enley.  

This was wonderfully filmed, particularly a lake scene early in the picture.  Its a pretty good film, though I don't believe its as good as Eddie Muller says it is.  This is the rare occasion where I kinda go against him.  Still, its a worthy look.  I rate this one a 7.5 out of 10...

 

2n9gsiv.jpg

 

ixh0qv.jpg

 

2z6sh1f.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why did you think it wasn't as good as others have said?

One problem I have with it is that MGM was not very effective at making film noir. They tended to keep things fairly safe to maximize profits (hence the studio's huge success with crowd-pleasing musicals). So to me the story poses interesting questions but the handling of the material is not really edgy or provocative. As a result we get something that seems kind of boring and has some dry stretches in it. 

If it had been made at RKO during this time it would have been much grittier, harder hitting. It's too slick, like most MGM films, and that slickness works against a noir.

Now one thing I will say is that I feel the performances are very good, even Janet Leigh who is just starting out in movies. The best one in my opinion is Mary Astor who seems to relish the chance to play a woman of ill-repute. She had been typecast by the studio in mother roles, so this was a chance for her to show off her acting talent.

It's a shame they used such a great title for this movie. ACT OF VIOLENCE seems like something that would have fit a horror film better. Something with a lot of blood in it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Why did you think it wasn't as good as others have said?

One problem I have with it is that MGM was not very effective at making film noir. They tended to keep things fairly safe to maximize profits (hence the studio's huge success with crowd-pleasing musicals). So to me the story poses interesting questions but the handling of the material is not really edgy or provocative. As a result we get something that seems kind of boring and has some dry stretches in it. 

If it had been made at RKO during this time it would have been much grittier, harder hitting. It's too slick, like most MGM films, and that slickness works against a noir.

Now one thing I will say is that I feel the performances are very good, even Janet Leigh who is just starting out in movies. The best one in my opinion is Mary Astor who seems to relish the chance to play a woman of ill-repute. She had been typecast by the studio in mother roles, so this was a chance for her to show off her acting talent.

It's a shame they used such a great title for this movie. ACT OF VIOLENCE seems like something that would have fit a horror film better. Something with a lot of blood in it.

I agree with everything you said.  The film was too by the numbers and it could pass as a tv episode due to that slickness you referred to.  When I say its not as good as Eddie Muller says, I'm saying its not a top 25 noir like HE says it is.  The 7.5 rating on IMDB gets it right.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Act of Violence is one of my favorites. I think it gets the despair of the main character exactly right. That sequence when he runs down the tunnel depicts his despair and then his transformation to acceptance of his situation in a way that really sticks with me. I even like the title: the act of violence could apply to the original act of betrayal (that wasn't intended to be betrayal) and then the psychological violence that eddies out from it. I agree with Eddie Muller on this one!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Marianne said:

Act of Violence is one of my favorites. I think it gets the despair of the main character exactly right. That sequence when he runs down the tunnel depicts his despair and then his transformation to acceptance of his situation in a way that really sticks with me. I even like the title: the act of violence could apply to the original act of betrayal (that wasn't intended to be betrayal) and then the psychological violence that eddies out from it. I agree with Eddie Muller on this one!

I actually think the title, ACT OF VIOLENCE, would have worked best for a story about rape. This film could have been called ACT OF BETRAYAL or something else. They wasted a really good title.

In those days there was some rule where, unless a film was a remake, they could not use duplicate titles. I guess this is because they didn't want audiences confused by two films being released at the same time with the same title. So the studios came up with lists upon lists of possible titles and registered them with the copyright office.

They sometimes sold these copyrighted titles. David Selznick talks about this in one of his memos. He had a title he was going to used for a romance drama but ended up selling the copyright on that title to one of the major studios which didn't even end up using it. 

This rule about duplicate titles was disregarded later, because in 1973 there were two films called THE DOLL HOUSE that were released around the same time.

Anyway, I think MGM had its list of titles and when they bought Collier Young's story idea they took this title off the list and applied it because they thought it sounded edgy and fit the story, but it really doesn't fit the story in my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marianne said:

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, TopBilled.

I guess so. Primarily because I don't feel this fllm is very violent. It's kind of tame, with a reliance on the psychological ramification of war because they were afraid to challenge the production code. A more hard hitting film would have had flashbacks of the actual horrors or atrocities that were committed.

Ida Lupino made a movie about rape in 1950 and it was called OUTRAGE. But ACT OF VIOLENCE would have been a more appropriate title for that film. Also ACT OF VIOLENCE would have been a very good title for JOHNNY BELINDA. Instead it was wasted on this glossy slightly dull noir from MGM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is what the book Film Noir has to say about Act of Violence.   

AOV is a film noir with a social theme.  It is primarily involved with the torments of Enley's (Heflin), conscience.

The entire film moves toward Enley's act of atonement but without suggesting an attitude to the incident that precipitated his guilt.  Consequently,  the social theme is not forceful and the whole tone of the film is dispassionate.   This is often true of films directed by Zimmerman.

Enley and Parkson and not amoung the more interesting characterizations of Heflin's or Ryan's careers, although the presence of these two actors does create interest.   More importantly,  there is a predictable visual schematization, to the film.  It begins in daylight in unthreatening surroundings and proceeds to a seamier environment as Enley journeys through the desperate night.   These later scenes revel the talent of photographer Surtees,  who contributes atmospheric night-for-night exteriors and evocatively lit interiors that are worthy of the best film noir. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...