Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Act of Violence


Pretty interesting noir film. Van Heflin is a successful businessman in California with a young wife and son. Robert Ryan is an obsessed man with a grudge. He intends to kill Van, and he is relentless, but has enough bad luck that Van learns of his intentions, and flees. I won’t reveal what it is Van did, but it was in a POW camp in Germany, and it’s pretty reprehensible. You can see why Ryan would want to kill him. Van’s wife, Janet Leigh, has no idea of her hubby’s past. In Van’s defense, he says he thought he was doing the right thing and it went wrong. Hard to swallow, and he admits that he benefited from his actions in the form of extra rations. I won’t be the first to throw stones at him; I understand that a starving person will do pretty much anything for food. Concentration camp survivors usually don’t talk about that, it’s too shameful to them. But going strongly against Van, making him impossible for me to like, is his cowardice when his nemesis shows up. He abandons his family—okay, he says Ryan won’t harm them, but does he know?—and goes to Los Angeles to get drunk at a rowdy convention. A brave man would have stayed. It takes Van quite a while to man up, and the ending is pretty contrived, but there’s good writing and acting all around. And it makes you think about revenge and the consequences of one’s actions.