Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Act Of Violence (1948)

A WWII hero (Van Heflin) lives happily in a small California town with his wife (Janet Leigh) and child. But while he's away on a fishing trip, a man (Robert Ryan) comes to town bent on exacting vengeance on his former friend who's not quite the hero he appears to be. This is a wonderful film noir that still hasn't quite got the recognition it deserves. There are no hard boiled private detectives, no femme fatales (unless one counts Mary Astor's aging prostitute), no black and white hero or villain. Instead, we get a man torn with guilt about his past who must finally deal with his conscience when confronted with one of his victims. The director Fred Zinnemann lets us see both sides of the situation and because of this, we can't choose sides, it's much more complex than that. The cinematography by the great Robert Surtees (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW) contrasts the sunny opening shots of the film with the darker and more ominous night shadows typical of noir as the film grows bleaker. Heflin and Ryan are in peak form but the movie provides strong roles for its trio of actresses. In addition to Leigh and Astor, there's Phyllis Thaxter as Ryan's girlfriend who acts as his conscience. With Barry Kroeger, Taylor Holmes and Connie Gilchrist.

No comments:

Post a Comment