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(aka 'Live Today For Tomorrow' or "I Stand Accused")

Directed by Michael Gordon
USA
1948

 

From Michael Gordon, the acclaimed director of The Web, The Lady Gambles, Woman in Hiding, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pillow Talk and Portrait in Black, comes this classic film noir starring screen legend Fredric March (Death Takes a Holiday, Inherit the Wind) as a man faced with an impossible predicament. Calvin Cooke (March), a no-nonsense judge in a small Pennsylvania town, finds his thoughts turning to end the life of his beloved wife Cathy (Florence Eldridge, The Story of Temple Drake) when he learns that she has an incurable disease and is suffering from unbearable pain. He decides to move forward with his plan and then surrenders himself to the police. Defended by a brilliant attorney (Edmond O’Brien, The Hitch-Hiker), Cooke goes on trial for his life in a case that will decide if he’s legally guilty of murder or morally innocent of killing his wife. This controversial thriller was written by Michael Blankfort (The Dark Past) and Robert Thoeren (The Prowler), based on a book by Ernst Lothar (The Clairvoyant)..

***

An Act of Murder stars Fredric March as a husband faced with an impossible predicament in this controversial drama that was well ahead of its time. Calvin Cooke (March), a no-nonsense judge in a small Pennsylvania town, finds his thoughts turning to end the life of his beloved wife Cathy (Florence Eldridge) when he learns that she has an incurable disease and is suffering from unbearable pain. He decides to move forward with his plan and then surrenders himself to the police. Defended by a brilliant attorney (Edmund O’Brien), Cooke goes on trial for his life in a case that will decide if he’s legally guilty of murder or morally innocent of killing his wife.

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 29th, 1948

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Universal 'Vault Series' - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

  

Only available at present as part of Kino's Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IV with Calcutta, An Act of Murder and Six Bridges to Cross

  

Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:31:06         1:31:09.464 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,648,247,256 bytes

Feature: 20,033,507,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1554 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1554 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• None

DVD Release Date: November 15th, 2015

Keep Case
Chapters: 9

Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,648,247,256 bytes

Feature: 20,033,507,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• NEW Audio Commentaries by Film Historian Samm Deighan

Trailers

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 14th, 2020
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (July 2020): Kino have transferred Michael Gordon's An Act of Murder to Blu-ray as part of Kino's Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IV with Calcutta, An Act of Murder and Six Bridges to Cross.

The single-layered transfer has a supportive bitrate but the source has weaknesses - frequently looking impaired by damage (see vertical scratch captures below) in the Frederic March in jail scenes. It can look heavy and clunky with modest contrast, but is entirely watchable.

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a DTS-HD Master dual-mono track (16-bit) in the original English language. The film's audio, like the video, is imperfect with some infrequent weaknesses usually corresponding to the damage marks.  There are almost no aggressive effects (a car crash and amusement park) and an excellent score by Daniele Amfitheatrof (The Last Hunt, I'll Be Seeing You, Edge of Eternity, The Lost Moment, The Desperate Hours, Human Desire, Letter From An Unknown Woman), sounding a bit deeper with more consistent dialogue. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray has a new audio commentary by film historian Samm Deighan. She does a fine job discussing director Michael Gordon and his other films, blacklisting in Hollywood, McCarthyism, social justice films, crime drama and hard boiled efforts of the 40s. I agree with Samm and that Noir is a cycle or movement as opposed to a genre mostly because of the classification's broad range. I thought she made a decent case for An Act of Murder being a part of the movement although I would disagree. There are trailers. 

The Noir classification is, again, debatable with its inclusion partly based on the, fairly misrepresenting, title "An Act of Murder". There is comfort seeing Fredric March and Edmond O'Brien with excellent casting in Florence Eldridge and Geraldine Brooks. . It's a good film especially for those who love vintage work from this period and the performers... a refreshing and rarely addressed topic too. A good film that is part of the Kino's Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IV Blu-ray boxset despite this reviewer's reservation on its labeling as part of the 'dark cinema' cycle.

Gary Tooze

I really enjoyed An Act of Murder - A recommendation from a subscriber to our Twitter account. It takes an early look at "mercy killing" or "euthanasia" - and it does a fine job of it.

The disc is predictably single-layered and has no menus, or extras, and the transfer is interlaced (see combing in bottom capture.) It has a prominent vertical scratch (also see below) that runs for a few minutes hear the end of the film. Overall, aside from that, it didn't look bad at all on my system. In fact - it was quite watchable with pleasing contrast for SD.

The audio is indicative of the period - - but consistent enough that dialogue is always audible. The score by Daniele Amfitheatrof (The Desperate Hours, Human Desire, Letter From An Unknown Woman) and does a decent job supporting the film's emotional moments. There are no subtitles and the media is region free in the NTSC standard.

The bare-bones DVD inferiorities didn't deter my viewing pleasure and I got something positive out of An Act of Murder. The difficulty in endorsing this DVD is the exorbitant price and lack of supplemental value  It's buyable at a sawbuck ($10) - not much more.

Gary Tooze

 


Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Combing (interlacing) on the DVD

 

 


1) Universal - Region 0 - NTSC  TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Vertical Scratch Damage Marks

 

More Blu-ray Captures
 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


  

Box Cover

  

Only available at present as part of Kino's Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IV with Calcutta, An Act of Murder and Six Bridges to Cross

  

Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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