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Act of Violence

Posted by martinteller on April 24, 2010

I’ve been sitting on Volume 4 of the Warner Brothers Film Noir Collection for far too long, finally making some time to dig into it.  We start things off with a winner.  Fred Zinnemann’s vengeance manhunt tale is a sterling example of the genre, with deep contrast in the lighting (terrific cinematography courtesy of Robert Surtees), slow-burn tension, a descent into the underworld, and the past coming back to haunt you.  Overall, this is a really solid and gripping piece of work, with some memorable moments and thoughtful post-war themes.  Wonderful climax and resolution, too, and a clever use of sound.  And something very unusual for its time: the credits are saved until the very end.  The acting is mostly strong.  Mary Astor as the world-weary hooker (never stated, but come on) stands out the most.  Janet Leigh, in one of her earlier roles, is rather weak.  Robert Ryan is menacing but could have been given a little more to work with.  As the lead, Van Helfin does a fine job… not a very distinctive performance, but a good one.  I’m tempted to give this is a higher rating, but it didn’t quite push my buttons in that certain way.  Rating: 8

IMDb
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