AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Act of Violence
Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
Release Date:   Feb 1949
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 22 Jan 1949
Production Date:   17 May--mid-Jul 1948; added scenes late Aug 1948
Duration (in mins):   82
Duration (in feet):   7,387
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Van Heflin (Frank R. Enley)  
    Robert Ryan [1909-1973] (Joe Parkson)  
    Janet Leigh (Edith Enley)  
    Mary Astor (Pat)  
    Phyllis Thaxter (Ann [Sturges])  
    Berry Kroeger (Johnny)  
    Taylor Holmes (Gavery)  
    Harry Antrim (Fred [Finney])  
    Connie Gilchrist (Martha [Finney])  
    Will Wright (Pop)  
    Tom Hanlon (Radio voice)  
    Phil Tead (Clerk)  
    Eddie Waglin (Bellboy)  
    John Albright (Bellboy)  
    William "Bill" Phillips (Veteran)  
    Dick Simmons (Veteran)  
    Larry Holt (Georgie Enley)  
  and Leslie Holt (Georgie Enley)  
    Garry Owen (Attendant)  
    Dick Elliott (Pompous man)  
    Irene Seidner (Old woman)  
    Ralph Peters (Tim, a bartender)  
    Douglas Carter (Heavy-jowled man)  
    Frank Scannell (Bell captain)  
    Rocco Ianzo (Teenage boy)  
    Rex Downing (Teenage boy)  
    Mickey Martin (Teenage boy Teenage boys)  
    Bill Cartledge (Newsboy)  
    Don Haggerty (Policeman)  
    Paul Kruger (Policeman)  
    Jim Drum (Policeman)  
    George Backus (Policeman)  
    Wesley Hopper (Policeman)  
    Nolan Leary (Man's voice)  
    Barbara Billingsley (Woman's voice)  
    Harry Tenbrook (Man in bar)  
    Everett Glass (Night clerk)  
    Phil Dunham (Drunk)  
    Fred Santley (Drunk)  
    William Bailey (Drunk)  
    Wilbur Mack (Drunk)  
    Howard Mitchell (Bobby, a bartender)  
    Cameron Grant (Man at bar)  
    Ralph Montgomery (Man at bar)  
    Walter Merrill (Man at bar)  
    Roger Moore (Wino)  
    Mahlon Hamilton (Wino)  
    Candy Toxton (Wife of veteran)  
    Florita Romero (Girl in church)  
    George Ovey (Bystander at accident)  
    Jimmy Kelly (Bystander at accident)  
    David Newell (Bystander at accident)  
    Fred Datig Jr. (Bystander at accident)  
    Margaret Bert (Bystander at accident)  
    Mary Jo Ellis (Bystander at accident)  
    Ann Lawrence (Bystander at accident)  
    Andre Pola (German voice)  
    Rudolph Anders (German voice)  
    Roland Varno (German voice)  
    Robert Skelton (Cab driver)  

Summary: At a Memorial Day celebration in the small town of Santa Lisa, California, contractor Frank R. Enley, a World War II Veteran, is honored for bringing a new housing project to the town. On the same day, Joe Parkson, a mysterious and disabled war veteran, arrives in Santa Lisa hoping to find Frank and kill him. Following the ceremony, Frank bids his wife Edith and young daughter Georgie farewell and goes on a fishing trip with his friend, Fred Finney. Only moments after he leaves, Edith receives a telephone call from Joe, who says nothing and hangs up. Joe later visits Edith looking for Frank, and when she tells him the he has gone fishing at the lake, he leaves without explaining himself. At the lake, Joe, carrying a loaded gun, rows out to where Frank is fishing, but is unable to fire a shot at him. When Bobby, the bartender at a shoreline bar, tells Frank that a stranger with a limp was looking for him, Frank immediately realizes who it is and rushes home in a panic. At home, Frank takes every precaution to secure his family's safety, and tells his wife that Joe is an old army pal whom he does not wish to see. Late that night, Frank admits to his wife that he moved the family away from Syracuse, New York, to get away from Joe. He also tells Edith that during the war he and Joe were imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp, and that Joe is mentally ill. One day, when Frank leaves town to go to a builders and contractors convention in Los Angeles, Joe forces his way into the house and tells Edith that her husband is responsible for his disability and the death of some of his army pals. Frightened by the visit, Edith leaves Georgie in the care of her neighbor, Martha, and rushes to Los Angeles. There, Frank admits that he revealed Joe's escape plans to the Nazis to win special treatment for himself. Meanwhile, back in Santa Lisa, Joe learns that Frank is in Los Angeles and decides to search for him there. After checking out of his Santa Lisa hotel room, Joe is surprised by the arrival of Ann Sturges, his girl friend, who has followed him in the hopes of preventing him from killing Frank. When Joe rejects Ann's pleas, Ann finds Edith and warns her about Joe's revenge plans. In Los Angeles, Joe finds Frank at the convention and the two scuffle. Frank manages to escape, and while taking refuge in a bar, meets a prostitute named Pat. Pat takes Frank to Johnny, a killer-for-hire, who uses force and alcohol to persuade Frank to hire him to kill Joe. The following day, Frank returns to Santa Lisa, and, regretting his decision to hire Johnny, tries to warn Joe about the impending attempt on his life. Frank warns Joe only seconds before Johnny fires his gun, and then steps forward to take the bullet himself. Though wounded by the gunshot Frank manages to grab Johnny as he speeds off in his car, causing it to crash into a lamppost. Both Johnny and Frank are killed in the crash, leaving Joe with the responsibility of telling Edith the tragic news. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
  Marvin Stuart (Asst dir)
Producer: William H. Wright (Prod)
Writer: Robert L. Richards (Scr)
  Collier Young (Story)
Photography: Robert Surtees (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Hans Peters (Art dir)
Film Editor: Conrad A. Nervig (Film ed)
  Blanche Sewell (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Henry W. Grace (Assoc)
Costumes: Helen Rose (Women's cost)
Music: Bronislau Kaper (Mus score)
  AndrĂ© Previn (Cond)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hairstyles des by)
  Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 10/12/1948 dd/mm/yyyy LP2015 Yes

PCA NO: 13275
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Film noir
Subjects (Major): Conscience
  Hired killers
Subjects (Minor): Attempted murder
  Attempted suicide
  Automobile accidents
  Conventions (Gatherings)
  Gunshot wounds
  Housing industry
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Prisoners of war
  Small town life
  World War II

Note:        Although Conrad A. Nervig is listed onscreen as the film's editor, HR production charts list Blanche Sewell as the editor. The CBCS and some contemporary reviews incorrectly list Nicholas Joy in the part played by Taylor Holmes. According to a May 1948 HR news item, some filming took place at Big Bear Lake, CA.
       Although unusual for the period, all credit titles come at the end of the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Aug 48   p. 268, 282-84.
Box Office   25 Dec 1948.   
Daily Variety   21 Dec 48   p. 3, 7
Film Daily   21 Dec 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 May 48   p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter   28 May 48   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jul 48   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 48   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Dec 48   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 49   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   4 Dec 48   p. 4410.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   25 Dec 48   p. 4433.
New York Times   24 Jan 49   p. 16.
Variety   22 Dec 48   p. 6.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.