7.0/10
495
16 user 7 critic

An Act of Murder (1948)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 18 December 1948 (Sweden)
A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife's terminal cancer.

Director:

Michael Gordon

Writers:

Ernst Lothar (novel), Michael Blankfort (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An electronics expert creates a huge bookie broadcast system for his crime boss, and takes over operations when his boss is murdered. His greed leads him on a deadly destructive path.

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger
The Web (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An attorney acting as a body guard, apparently kills a man in defense of his employer's life, and later believes the victim was set up to be murdered.

Director: Michael Gordon
Stars: Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien, William Bendix
Road House (1948)
Certificate: Passed Action | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A night club owner becomes infatuated with a torch singer and frames his best friend/manager for embezzlement when the chanteuse falls in love with him.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Celeste Holm
Pursued (1947)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A boy haunted by nightmares about the night his entire family was murdered is brought up by a neighboring family in the 1880s. He falls for his lovely adoptive sister but his nasty adoptive brother and mysterious uncle want him dead.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, Judith Anderson
Possessed (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After being found wandering the streets of Los Angeles, a severely catatonic woman tells a doctor the complex story of how she wound up there.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Stars: Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey
High Wall (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Stars: Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A magistrate investigates a corporate executive.

Director: Claude Chabrol
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, François Berléand, Patrick Bruel
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Assistant district attorney Cleve Marshall falls for the mysterious Thelma Jordon when she seeks help solving robberies of her aunt's estate.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, Paul Kelly
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: William Holden, Edmond O'Brien, Alexis Smith
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After discovering the dead body of her teenage daughter's lover, a housewife takes desperate measures to protect her family from scandal.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: James Mason, Joan Bennett, Geraldine Brooks
Moonrise (1948)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Danny is being despised by his schoolmates because his father was accused to have killed another man and is condemned to the death penalty.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A pregnant woman adopts the identity of a railroad crash victim and starts a new life with the woman's wealthy in-laws, but is soon blackmailed by her devious ex.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, John Lund, Jane Cowl
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fredric March ... Judge Calvin Cooke
Edmond O'Brien ... David Douglas
Florence Eldridge ... Catherine Cooke
Geraldine Brooks ... Ellie Cooke
Stanley Ridges ... Doctor Walter Morrison
John McIntire ... Judge Ogden
Frederic Tozere Frederic Tozere ... Charles Dayton
Will Wright ... Judge Jim Wilder
Virginia Brissac ... Mrs. Russell
Francis McDonald ... Mr. Russell
Mary Servoss ... Julia
Don Beddoe ... Pearson
Clarence Muse ... Mr. Pope
Edit

Storyline

Judge Cooke, good husband and father, is known in court as Old Man Maximum. Cooke's daughter loves defender Dave Douglas, who hates Cooke's attitude toward defendants. Cooke's life shatters when he learns his wife has terminal brain cancer; as her pain worsens, he begins to consider mercy-killing, but that would place him in the position of a defendant. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

MERCY or MURDER? Can you condemn this man?

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1948 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Judge's Wife See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Florence Eldridge, who portrays Fredric March's wife, also portrayed his wife twelve years later in 'Inherit the Wind'. The two actors were married in real life. See more »

Goofs

While the setting was Pennsylvania, the outdoor highway scenes were obviously shot in California. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Walter Morrison: What is incurable today is curable next Wednesday.
See more »

Connections

Version of I accuse (1941) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
One of my favorite Fredric March performances, and an unfairly forgotten film
31 May 2015 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Here Fredric March plays criminal court judge Calvin Cooke who has a reputation as a sort of "hanging judge" so that he has earned the nickname of "old man Maximum". Edmond O'Brien plays a defense attorney arguing a case before the judge. While O'Brien's character looks at the spirit of the law, Judge Cooke looks only at the letter of it and it is obvious from the opening court scene that the two do not like each other. What do they have in common? They both love the judge's only daughter, Ellie.

Now this doesn't mean that the judge is a bad guy. He likes his community, adores his wife of twenty years (Florence Eldridge as Catherine Cooke), and loves his daughter.

But more trouble is afoot than just a suitor for his daughter's hand that the judge dislikes. His wife Catherine has been having headaches, dizziness, and has been dropping things due to numbness in her hands. She confides in a friend who also happens to be a doctor that she has "a friend" with these symptoms, and the doctor sees through her ruse and says that she should come to his Philadelphia office the next day for a check-up. She does that, but lies to Calvin and says she is going shopping.

This is where I do some head scratching. The news is bad - Catherine has a type of inoperable brain tumor that means a certain and painful death. The doctor tells Catherine that everything is fine. Who does he call? After sticking a cancer stick in his mouth to relieve the stress (????) the good doctor calls Calvin, her husband and tells HIM the truth. They both decide to not tell Catherine, the ACTUAL patient, the truth. Later when Catherine finds out, she decides not to talk about it either, even though by the way she found out she must know that her husband knows. Why isn't anybody talking to anybody about this woman's illness? Everybody just goes on pretending. Maybe this is the way it was 60 years ago, and that is one reason I love classic film - it gives you real insight into a bygone era about how people handled life, in this case illness, the fact that doctors routinely smoked, that grown daughters lived at home and pretty much went from the custody of their fathers to their husbands, and that it was acceptable for a policeman to shoot a dog that had been run over by a car in plain view of the general public - a mercy killing. This last incident happens as the judge is walking down the street to get pain medicine for his wife that just isn't doing the job. The implication is that mercy killing is on the mind of "old man Maximum" too. How will all of this work out? Watch and find out.

Even though all of the characters in this film are basically "good people" with good intentions, you could almost classify this one as a noir, because there are no easy answers, no possible way to a happy ending. I've seen a restored version of this film on Turner Classic Movies in the last year, so I wish Universal would find some way to get it out to the public. The questions the film raises are still relevant today. Highly recommended.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 16 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed