“The manhunt no woman could stop!” In this bleak, disturbing film noir directed by Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), Van Heflin portrays building contractor “Frank Enley,” who seemingly leads the perfect life in a small California town with his young wife “Edith” (Janet Leigh) and baby. However, this World War II “hero” is hiding a terrible secret – it turns out that he informed on fellow prisoners in a German POW camp who were planning an escape. Frank’s idyllic life is turned upside down when obsessed, limping former prisoner of war “Joe Parkson” (Robert Ryan) arrives in town seeking vengeance against Frank for his betrayal. After fleeing his home, Frank makes a disorienting journey in classic noir style through downtown Los Angeles and even gets mixed up with aging prostitute with a heart of gold “Pat” (Mary Astor) and sleazy hitman “Johnny” (Berry Kroeger) in an effort to avoid the stalker. Also look for Phyllis Thaxter as Joe’s girlfriend “Ann Sturges,” who desperately attempts to stop him from killing Frank.
Useless Trivia: Act of Violence was based on an unpublished short story by Collier Young, who was married to Ida Lupino (1948-51) and Joan Fontaine (1952-61).