1941-1950CrimeDramaMichael GordonUSA

Michael Gordon – An Act of Murder (1948)

A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife’s terminal cancer.

I find it interesting that An Act of Murder, The Third Man (Carol Reed), Obsession (Edward Dmytryk), The Set-Up (Robert Wise), Act of Violence (Fred Zinneman), House of Strangers (Joseph Mankiewicz) and Without Honor (Irving Pichel) were all in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1949 – about one quarter of the competition were films that show up these days on classic film noir lists.

Though I wouldn’t really call An Act of Murder a noir at all — it’s really a social issues film, and a one-note one at that. Director Michael Gordon has some fun with a couple of scenes, especially with a funhouse maze of mirrors, and his more showy scenes are what stood out for me. But the central ethical question in the film is not going to be interesting for contemporary audiences. The film also attempts to make a larger but painfully obvious point about the distinction between morality and legality, justice and the law. No great insight there.

I really like two of Michael Gordon’s films from around the time he made this one – The Web (1947) and The Secret of Convict Lake (1951) – and was really looking forward to this. But it’s very missable.

2.60GB | 1h 30mn | 778×576 | mkv



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