Act of Violence (1948) - Rotten Tomatoes

Act of Violence (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Act of Violence Photos

Movie Info

Act Of Violence lives up to its no-fooling-around title with a grim, exciting melodrama. Van Heflin is Frank Enley, a World War II veteran who has survived and been decorated with honors, while nearly all his comrades died in a Nazi prison camp. The one survivor, a crippled, revenge-crazed Robert Ryan, sets out to make Enley pay for the confession that sent his buddies to their deaths. To save his wife (Janet Leigh) from danger, Enley flees, meeting up with a kind-hearted hooker (Mary Astor) and ultimately hiring a hitman to kill his pursuer. The chase builds to a tense climax that does nothing to relieve the dark atmosphere of the rest of the film. With taut performances by Ryan and Heflin emphasizing its classic moral dilemmas, Act Of Violence remains a gripping thriller.
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Van Heflin
as Frank R. Enley
Robert Ryan
as Joe Parkson
Janet Leigh
as Edith Enley
Berry Kroeger
as Johnny
Taylor Holmes
as Gavery
Nicholas Joy
as Mr. Gavery
Tom Hanlon
as Radio Voice
Phil Tead
as Clerk
John Albright
as Bellboy
Larry Holt
as Georgie Enley
Garry Owen
as Attendent
Dick Elliott
as Pompous Man
Irene Seidner
as Old Woman
Ralph Peters
as Tim the Bartender
Douglas Carter Beane
as Heavy Jowled Man
Rex Downing
as Teenage Boy
Mickey Martin
as Teenage Boy
Bill Cartledge
as Newsboy
Don Haggerty
as Policeman
Paul Kruger
as Policeman
Jim Drum
as Policeman
Everett Glass
as Night Clerk
Phil Dunham
as Ad Lib Drunk
William Norton Bailey
as Ad Lib Drunk
Wilbur Mack
as Ad Lib Drunk
George Ovey
as Bystander
David Newell
as Bystander
Fred Datig Jr.
as Bystander
Margaret Bert
as Bystander
Mary Jo Ellis
as Bystander
Ann Lawrence
as Bystander
Andre Pola
as German Voice
Rudolph Anders
as German Voice
Roland Varno
as German Voice
Dick Simmons
as Veterans
Frank J. Scannell
as Bell Captain
Howard Mitchell
as Bartender
Show More Cast

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

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


An interesting post-war moral tale from director Fred Zinnemann. It certainly is not his best work but it brings up some interesting questions as Robert Ryan seeks revenge on his former war buddy played by Van Heflin. Ultimately, however justice is achieved in this noir thriller.

Four Star Film Fan
Four Star Film Fan

I must admit that I guessed the outcome of this story once all the pieces fell into place for me. If viewed as a sort of modern day fable - I felt the outcome was all but inevitable. It didn't make the film any less enjoyable for me though - I liked it a lot. It's a noir with a twisted WWII spin. It's also a lesson in the 3 R's from director Fred Zinnemann (HIGH NOON) - Revenge, Revelations and Redemption. Frank Enley (Van Heflin) is a former bomber pilot who seems to be adapting well to life after the war. He is married to a beautiful wife, Edith (Janet Leigh) and raising a 2 year old bouncing baby boy. They live in a nice suburban neighborhood. His home construction business is doing quite well in the postwar economy. The only thing wrong with this picture-perfect scenario is that a man is stalking Frank…for the purpose of killing him. The stalker is Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan) and Frank was actually expecting him to show one day. Both men once served as crew members of a bomber. The bomber was shot down and Frank and Joe were captured and spent the final year of the war in a Nazi prison camp. It is what happened in the prison camp that sets into motion the plot of the film… Zinnemann builds the suspense nicely. An injury causes Joe to drag his right foot and scape the ground as he walks. Sometimes you cannot see Joe… but you can certainly hear him coming like some sort for mad animal. When Frank realizes that Joe is closing in on him - all he can do is…RUN!!! Nice performances all around. Robert Ryan is particularly creepy as Joe the stalker. A young-looking Janet Leigh (12 years before Hitchcock's PSYCHO) as the worried turned paranoid wife - wondering what in hell is going on with her husband. Mary Astor is here too as Pat, a concerned prostitute trying to assist the down-and-out Frank when he flees to Los Angeles. Pat suggests a drastic solution to Frank's problems - but the solution may turn out worse than the problem. Nice L.A. location shooting too including views of the Angel's Flight railway. 8

bernard anselmo
bernard anselmo

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
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Act of Violence Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Act of Violence on our Movie forum!

News & Features