Act of Violence (1948)

Act of Violence


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this suspenseful film noir a crippled veteran sets out to exact revenge upon the coward who betrayed his comrades while they were all interred in a POW camp during WW II. By this time, the betrayer has become a prominent contracter and when he learns of the vet's vendetta he panics. Suddenly he feels terrible guilt and finally tells his wife that his well-meaning confession to the enemy resulted in the death of all the fellow prisoners but the one who stalks him now. Things become more taut … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Robert L. Richards
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 31, 2007



as Frank R. Enley

as Joe Parkson

as Edith Enley

as Johnny

as Gavery

as Mr. Gavery

as Radio Voice

as Clerk

as Georgie Enley

as Attendent

as Pompous Man

as Old Woman

as Tim the Bartender

as Heavy Jowled Man

as Teenage Boy

as Teenage Boy

as Policeman

as Policeman

as Policeman

as Night Clerk

as Ad Lib Drunk

as Ad Lib Drunk

as Bystander

as Bystander

as Bystander

as Bystander

as Bystander

as Bystander

as German Voice

as German Voice

as German Voice

as Veterans

as Bell Captain

as Bartender
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Act of Violence

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Act of Violence

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

It is strong meat for the heavy drama addicts, tellingly produced and played to develop tight excitement.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

Technically Act of Violence touches all the bases in its circuit chase. But it is as though it were doing it on the strength of a long, foul ball.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Fred Zinnemann's best movie

Full Review… | September 20, 2009

A terrific film noir directed by the great Fred Zinnemann. Reflects growing disillusionment with American society linked to the emerging Cold War.

Full Review… | August 27, 2008

Grim, exciting film noir.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

One of MGM's best film noirs and one of Zinnemann's early films to deal with what would become a recurrent issue in his owrk: Men tormented by moral conscience, here in the context of a WWII revenge medlodrama

Full Review… | October 26, 2006

Audience Reviews for Act of Violence


interesting scenario of sympathetic family man van heflin being stalked by a slightly crazed robert ryan for something bad that happened in the war. the ending wraps everything up a little too neatly in classic western style but with good suspense in getting there. mary astor plays an aging hooker at the same time she was playing the saintly mother in little women LOL

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


Act of Violence is a pretty forgettable and unremarkable noir that explains revenge as it's plot but doesn't really make you believe it. Robert Ryan is unusually dull here (picture a low rent Max Cady) and Van Heflin is just a warm body filling up screen time and keeping shots balanced. I liked where the story went for the second act but by the end it just seemed like 25 lbs of shit stuffed in a 15 lb bag. I just wasn't really buying it all. It's not all bad though, the lighting is brilliant and that final scene that was blatantly influenced by Westerns was well done--all up to the car crash. Look for a young, dopey Janet Leigh and and old, tired Mary Astor.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

Act of Violence doesn't completely add up

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Since so much of the plot of this movie is linked to the events that happened in a POW camp during World War II, I was very surprised that there were no flashbacks SHOWING what happened. The best director Fred Zinnemann could offer were some voice-overs in the famous "tunnel" scene. But those voice-overs were truly insufficient to explore character motivations. There had to be a more COMPELLING reason why Frank Enley (Van Heflin) would be so naive to trust the Nazis in attempting to thwart the escape plan. Think of it: have you ever heard of a story from World War II where a US commanding officer in a POW camp decided to trust the Nazis in order to save his men? In every World War II movie, it's always the commanders who get themselves thrown in the cooler to stick up for their men. Yes, there was Bridge Over the River Kwai, where the British commander (Alec Guiness), out of a sense of misguided pride, worked hard to build the bridge for the Japanese. But that kind of "collaboration" is quite different than actually going to the enemy and revealing plans about an escape. Furthermore, it has always been the number one aim of all American POW's to escape. So I had a real hard time buying the whole idea that Enley would try to prevent his men from escaping. Now if there were some flashbacks and we actually got to see more of Enley's personality and the other characters in the prison camp, then maybe a more convincing motivation would have emerged for Enley to rat out his fellow prisoners. If perhaps he was actually a 'coward', that could have been shown in a flashback. But the guy we see after the War, is a civic-minded, family man, a good guy who likes to go fishing with his neighbor--so it would have been a stretch to depict him as a coward underneath. If he really wanted to prevent the escape attempt, perhaps he could have physically confronted Parkson before he went into the tunnel or created some kind of diversion where he would take the blame and be thrown into the "cooler" (a la Steve McQueen).

My other problem with the plot was how did Parkson find out that Enley had set him and the other men up? If the Army investigators had found out from the Nazis after the war, then Enley would have been court-martialed. This wasn't really explained very well. Parkson was a very underdeveloped character (simply bent on revenge) and I also couldn't believe that Mary Astor would bring a total stranger back to her apartment. What was her interest in Enley in the first place? He was obviously "out of it" when they first met, but I guess it was the old "heart of gold" that caused her to take an interest in him.

Finally, the ending was also unconvincing. Parkson was so consumed with revenge, why would he suddenly be glad that Enley had saved his life by thwarting the gangster from shooting him? In fact, you get the impression throughout the film that Parkson is not concerned about the consequences of his actions. If he shoots Enley, he EXPECTS to go to jail. He simply doesn't care. Now Enley saves his life and all of a sudden his opinion of him has changed? Now he's the one who's going to go back and tell his wife that Enley has died? Didn't buy it for a second. It's obvious that the writers had to kill Enley off in order to atone for his "mistake". The mistake of course is Enley's naivety vis-a-vis the Nazis--a naivety which I was not at all convinced of. Nonetheless, the film moves along at a brisk pace and holds your interest, despite the simplistic premise.

Lewis Papier

Act of Violence Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Act of Violence on our Movie forum!