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Act of Violence

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US, 1948, 82 minutes, Black and white.
Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor.
Directed by Fred Zinnemann.

Act of Violence is one of Fred Zinnemann's earliest American films. At this time he made such films as My Brother Talks to Horses as well as directing Montgomery Clift in The Search. He was soon to make such films as The Men, High Noon, From Here To Eternity.

This film focuses on post-war America, memories of behaviour during the war - especially cowardice leading to the loss of life of American soldiers. This is the dilemma of Van Heflin's hero - a leader who collaborated with the Nazis, thinking that the men would be saved during an escape attempt. They were not. Robert Ryan then wants vengeance on Heflin. In the supporting cast is Janet Leigh in one of her earliest roles, Phyllis Thaxter and an almost unrecognisable Mary Astor (especially in comparison with her mother performances). The film shows Zinnemann's style with his black and white photography, sense of atmosphere.

1. American thriller, psychological thriller, the background of World War Two?

2. Fred Zinnemann's work? Black and white photography, editing and pace, musical score?

3. The title - the war, Joe Parkson, Frank Enley? The final shooting? The consequences of all the violence?

4. The introduction to Joe Parkson: the dark, black and white, his limp, getting the gun, going by bus across America, searching for Enley, settling in the hotel, his sense of mission and vengeance?

5. Frank, his achievement, Edith and George, popular in the area, the housing construction, friendly neighbours, going fishing?

6. The beginning of tension: Joe and his visit to Edith, pursuing Frank? Frank seeing him, returning from the fishing trip, discussions with Edith, staying in the house in the dark?

7. His telling the story, his sense of guilt, his blame? Edith listening to the story, finding that Frank was an ordinary human being and not perfect? His leadership of the men, in action, in the prisoner of war camp, his decision about the escape attempt, the German betraying him, the slaughter? His later memory of this - especially in the tunnel and hearing the voices?

8. Leaving for Los Angeles, the conference, drinking, the phone warning, seeing Parkson, punching him and running? In the street, the bar, encountering Pat, the drink, going to her place, sleeping late, the set-up, the story, the group thinking that he wanted a hired killer, giving the name of the hotel? The money? The realisation, his return, his lies to Edith, going out?

9. Joe and his relentless pursuit, the leads, the visit to Edith and telling her the truth, confronting her with the story, Anne and her chasing him to Los Angeles? The phone call, Frank offering the money from his firm and Parkson laughing?

10. The confrontation, the railway station, the shooting, Frank's death? The crash of the car? Joe saying that he would tell Edith?

11. The portrait of Pat, on the street, the bars, drinking, picking up Frank, the plan, wanting a commission? Compassion and money?

12. Her contacts, the plan for the killing, the assassination, the car crash?

13. The memories of World War Two, the behaviour of Americans under pressure, violence and consequences?

14. How well did the film work as a psychological thriller?

Created by: coffey last modification: Thursday 11 of March, 2010 [10:44:22 UTC] by malone

Language: en